Baking a cake can be therapeutic, relaxing — and tasty

Cakes are comfort food at its sweetest. They have the power to transport us to past birthdays, weddings, engagements, babies and vacations with just one bite. The best cakes can be whipped up in a flash and others are a labour of love. Making a cake has the added benefit of being therapeutic and relaxing.

Bundt cakes are easy to make but getting them out of the pan is sometimes a challenge. Make sure all nooks and crannies and the outside and inner sides of the pan are greased. Oil works best.

Prepare the pan when the batter is ready and not before.

Sprinkle flour, sugar or almond meal in the pan after greasing. Shake well to make sure all the same nooks and crannies are covered. Shake out excess.

After baking, cool the cake in the pan on rack five minutes with cake side up, then use a knife or spatula around edges to loosen.

Flip onto a plate and cool cake side down.

After five minutes jiggle to release cake, tapping if necessary. If cake doesn’t release, return to warm oven, retained heat only, cake side up, for 10 minutes and try again.

If using sugar, do not let cool in pan too long because the sugar will act as glue.

Some pans and cake recipes do better with flour, other sugar, other almond flour or meal. For a chocolate cake, after greasing, use cocoa powder. It works very well, and retains the chocolaty appearance.

Most cakes are made with all-purpose flour. Cake flour will result in a more tender crumb but all-purpose flour works well. Unbleached flour on the other hand does not absorb the liquid as well and will result in a cake with less volume.

In a pound cake, it will be difficult to achieve the nicely round and split top using unbleached flour.

Bacardi Rum Cake

Through the 1970s, cake with alcohol was a trend. The Harvey wallbanger cake, tipsy cake and the Bacardi rum cake were all favourites. This cake gets better with age. Let it sit at least overnight before serving. It also freezes beautifully.

  • 1 c. pecans or walnuts, chopped and toasted 250 mL
  • 18 1/2-oz. yellow cake mix
  • 1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 c. cold milk 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. dark rum 125 mL

Glaze:

  • 1/2 c. butter 125 mL
  • 1/4 c. water 60 mL
  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. dark rum 125 mL

To make the cake, preheat oven to 325 F (160 C). Grease and flour a 12-cup ( 3L) Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts on the bottom of the pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine all cake ingredients. Beat for two minutes on high with electric mixer. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for one hour.

Cool in pan. Invert onto serving plate.

Prick top with a fork. Now make the glaze.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil five minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum. The rum will cause steam. Be careful not to burn yourself. Drizzle glaze over top of Bacardi rum cake. Use brush or spoon to put extra dripping back on the cake.

Appalachian stack cake

I spent time housesitting in east Tennessee. My acreage neighbour, Miss Ersie, introduced me to this cake and other neighbourhood women quickly told me that this is a special cake and a labour of love. I saw how proud they were to maintain the tradition of the apple stack cake.

The dough is rolled out like a cookie. And dried apples are essential. Don’t use fresh apples. After stacking and filling, the cake must be wrapped and left in the refrigerator at least overnight, longer if possible.

Cake:

  • 4 1/4 c. all-purpose flour 1060 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 5 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon 1 mL
  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter 175 mL
  • 1 1/4 c. granulated sugar 310 mL
  • 3/4 c. molasses 175 mL
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk 125 mL

Filling:

  • 8 to 12 c. dried apples 2-3 L
  • 4 c. granulated sugar 1 L
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon 10 mL
  • 2 tsp. nutmeg 10 mL
  • 2 tbsp. molasses 30 mL
  • 3 c. water 750 mL
  • icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F (180 C) and place the rack in the middle position.

Add dry ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until wet and grainy.

Add the molasses. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula to get all of the molasses into the mixture.

Add the eggs one at a time. Scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl and mix on low speed.

Alternately add the buttermilk and the dry mixture about a quarter at a time. Stop the mixer to scrape the bowl and turn it on again on low speed for about 10 seconds. The mixture should be stiff like a soft cookie dough.

Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

After chilling, divide the dough into six or eight equal portions and place each one on a round piece of parchment paper a little larger than a 9 inch (22 cm) cake pan. Roll out the dough to the size of the parchment. Place the cake pan over the disk and trim away the excess around the edge.

Leaving the parchment paper underneath, lift the disks onto baking sheets and bake them for about 10 minutes, or until the top surface appears dry and a wooden skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Slide the disks off the baking sheet onto a flat surface to cool.

To make the filling, combine all the filling ingredients in a large, heavy-bottom saucepan and bring to a light simmer. Immediately transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse into a thick paste.

To assemble the cake, spread about one cup (250 mL) of the filling onto each layer, taking care to centre each disk on top of the one beneath it. Repeat until all the layers are used. Do not put apple filling on top of the cake.

Wrap the cake well and refrigerate it for up to 24 hours. This gives the apple filling time to work itself into the cake. Remove from refrigerator, dust with icing sugar and serve chilled.

Black magic cake

This is a Hershey’s cocoa recipe that has gained cult status. It is the best chocolate cake ever.

  • 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour 425 mL
  • 2 c. white sugar 500 mL
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder 175 mL
  • 2 tsp. baking soda 10 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. strong brewed coffee 250 mL
  • 1 c. buttermilk 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil 125 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 5 mL

Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Grease and flour two 9 inch (22 cm) round cake pans or one 9 x 13 inch (22 x 33 cm) pan.

In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine and make a well in the center.

Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat for two minutes on medium speed. Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into centre of cake comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack. Fill and frost as desired.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.

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