For too many years than I care to count a certain catalog regularly shows up in the mail more often than the cable bill. It’s filled with an odd and pricey assortment of kitchen stuff and special-snowflake food. In fact, during the holidays an amusing parody of the catalog (plus others) usually shows up somewhere on the interwebs poking fun at some of the more absurd stuff, including the food.
That some of the catalog food items costs as much as an electric bill in the winter or a small college loan usually drives me right into the kitchen to figure out how to make the item from scratch. A couple of them – peppermint bark cookies and my favorite, Moravian molasses cookie were past year’s projects. Sure, they aren’t exactly the same, but they’re gluten-free doppelgängers if ever there was one or two.
So here we are again. Another holiday. The catalog arrives, pages filled with Valentine goodies that are fabulous looking but not gluten-free nor costing less than say, the cable bill. An adorable and fetching little chocolate cake with buttercream roses caught my eye. A nice little gift for anyone on your Valentine list. I am sure it is a superbly delicious cake from a fine bakery, but again, not gluten-free nor terribly affordable. One bitty-little cake is $39 plus shipping.
The challenge was on.
Our copy cat cake is gluten and dairy-free but the buttercream is not (butter). But we can offer choices. If you want an entire dairy-free cake use this cherry vanilla icing here.
You can find the little cake liners here plus don’t forget piping bags and a (star) tip. Also, feel free to add the icing to the cake with a spoon and swirl it around. Add chocolate sprinkles for a festive touch. Piping flowers is easy. Just use a sort of steady hand in a circle motion, and start on the inside of each flower, working your way to the outside in one continuous squeeze of the piping bag. And if you have not so perfect flowers, just add a flower over it. Or if in doubt, scrape it all off and push the icing back into the bag for a redo. It works. I do that all the time because I am piping challenged. It takes a little practice. And for an entertaining and very helpful piping tutorial about making buttercream flowers in a jiffy, tune into I Am Baker (Amanda Rettke) here.
The finished cake freezes quite well when wrapped up thoroughly. Be sure to first freeze the cake naked until the icing is solid before adding the plastic wrap. I wrap it with two layers of plastic wrap, put it into a freezer zip bag and then put itt in a tin and into the freezer. Remove the cake at least an hour before serving so it can come to room temperature. Take off all the wrapping while it is frozen so that the icing stays neat.
The versatile cake recipe can make a 9-inch layer cake. Or a single 9×13 cake. Or 18-22 cupcakes. Or three 8-inch paper pan gift cakes. Adjust baking time accordingly. The frosting should easily accommodate each of these though it will be a little less thick when frosting a layer cake. But whichever version you make, it’s really good cake. And our homemade version costs just $6 each, including the paper pan.
I have no idea what I’m going to do if the Easter catalog features a 3-foot tall bunny cake.
|Chocolate Valentine Rose Cake|| |
- 325 grams Canteen flour blend (2 ½ cups (see notes)
- 250 grams superfine sugar (1 ¼ cups)
- 50 grams unsweetened cocoa, sifted (1/2 cup)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 extra large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
- 240 grams nondairy milk (1 cup)
- 160 grams neutral vegetable oil (2/3 cup)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon brewed coffee
- 60 grams unsweetened (99%) chocolate, chopped and melted (1/3 cup)
- 140 grams egg white (4 extra large eggs)
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 200 grams superfine sugar (1 cup)
- 287 grams unsalted butter, cubed, room temperature (2.5 sticks or 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons)
- 110 grams powdered sugar, sifted (1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon Luxardo Cherry Liquor (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 drop AmeriColor pink coloring (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Have three 8-inch paper cake pans ready. Or for a layer cake, grease two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray. Line the pans with parchment and spray. Or grease a 13-inch by 9-inch pan with nonstick spray or line (2) 12-count muffin pans with liners (18-22).
- In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and coffee until combined thoroughly. Add to flour mixture and stir until batter is well mixed. In a microwave safe container, melt unsweetened chocolate in short bursts (22 seconds) stirring after each until smooth. Add to batter and stir thoroughly.
- Divide batter in thirds and scrape into the paper pans about half full. Place pans on a baking sheet(s). Rap baking sheets on the counter to even out the batter and remove any air pockets. Bake 24-27 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few dry crumbs. Cool on a rack until the bottom of the pan is just warm. Loosen edges and flip cakes out onto a rack to cool completely before adding icing.
- Whisk together whites, cream of tartar, salt and sugar until combined. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture reads 160°F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from heat and using an electric mixer whip the white until very stiff, glossy peaks form. The trick is to make them ridiculously stiff so that the whip attachment stands up in the whites without falling over and it looks like marshmallow.
- You should be able to place your hand on the bottom of the bowl comfortably. Add the butter pieces slowly and keep whipping the mixture. Once incorporated, add the powdered sugar and whip on low until incorporated (to avoid spraying the stuff all over the kitchen) and then back to high. Once the icing is fluffy, add the Luxardo, if using, and vanilla and the drop of color. Whip until the buttercream is pale pink. Pipe or spoon onto cakes and let frosting set.