Aka, someone wanted a Hobbit Hole cake for their daughter’s 11th birthday, and I had way, way too much fun with it.

Bilbo! Frodo! the Ring!

The top layer (aka Hobbit Hole) was Vanilla butter cake filled with a layer of Apricot preserves and frosting.  The bottom layer was chocolate with strawberry filling (local strawberries, frozen and saved from last summer).  The frosting was ‘buttercreme’ (not real), because it holds up at room temp even when it’s hot, and kids don’t care.  And it’s sweet.  The door, paving stones, and chimney stones are made from white chocolate (colored), and everything else except Frodo and Bilbo are frosting.

Yes, those are Elvish runes. It says "Happy Birthday Fiona. Eleven years."

Yes, I added an inscription in Elvish.  Because I could.

Wouldn’t you?

The cake will fit in.  It’s for a birthday party that’s Hobbit-themed (the party favors are copies of the book even).  The kid is a geek.  The parents are geeks.  They were thrilled when I dropped it off.  🙂

And, so you all can see how long it’s been since I actually made flowers, a flower closeup (don’t take my Wilton license away!):

Nobody tell my old cake decorating teacher, okay? I'll lose that "A".

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Delicious banana-rum cake using my new bundt pan!

I’ve been reading the Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy blog for a little over a year now, and being in love with her writing (and recipes!), picked up a copy of her book a few months ago.  I read through it when I first got it (something I usually do with new cookbooks – I love reading them just like books), but while I kept meaning to make something from it, I just kept getting distracted by old favorites.  Which also explains the paucity of posts lately 🙂

A few weeks ago, however, I had some extra bananas to use up,  picked up the book to see if there was anything interesting in it, and found this recipe.

It looked fantastic, so I made it (and took the excuse to use one of my new spiffy Bundt pans obtained on sale this winter), and Oh My God.  It really was fantastic.  The outer layer of rum-soaked cake became this sticky, crusty incredible goodness (we won’t even talk about the pecan layer on top), while the inside banana cake, which was soft and creamy right after baking (you think we waited for this to cool completely?  Ha!) becomes dense and creamy after you let the cake cool.  And if you throw the leftovers in the fridge?  Oh my goodness.  It is soooo good.  We even threw the last piece in the freezer (double-wrapped), and when I thawed it back out and ate it, it was still perfectly wonderful.

The book itself is a joy to use – recipes are clearly and beautifully laid out, instructions are easy to follow, and the book itself is a visual treat.  I highly recommend it.

Look at that creamy interior...

So this cake is an excellent one for cake stands, leftovers, etc.  Bakesales, you name it.  It holds up well, the flavors just get more rich after the first day, and it’s sooo good.

If only real cathedrals tasted this nice

So while we had friends over to play cards, I made it again – this time using my new mini-bundt pans (I cut the recipe in half, which made me six mini-bundts and one leftover tart-pan’s worth of batter).  Still amazing, amazing, amazing.  I took one to my sweetie for lunch at work, and he wrote to tell me that he was still tasting it on his tongue hours later.

Another cute little bundt shape

Bahama Mama Banana Rum Cake

from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor

Dark Rum Glaze:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup firmly packed light or dark [I used dark] brown sugar
1/2 cup dark rum

Combine the butter, water, and sugars [but not the rum!  I did this the second time and had to double the rum, oh noes] in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low nad simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the rum.  Set aside and keep warm.

The Cake:

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted [I ran out halfway through and used walnuts as well, which worked just fine]

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar [I used dark]
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons dark rum [I use Myers Dark]
3 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.  Spray a 10-cup tube pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Sprinkle the pecans in the bottom of the pan.  Set aside.  [note: Yes, the pecans make quite a deep layer on the bottom of the pan.  It will all work out, I promise.]

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat togethe rthe butter and sugars until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Beat in mashed bananas, vanilla, and rum.  Sift the flour, baking osda, baking powder, and slat over the batter and fold in using a rubber spatula, just until no streaks of flour remain.  Fold in the sour cream.  Spoon the batter over the nuts in the pan and spread to the ede of the pan using the back of the rubber spatula.

Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out with no more than a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 60 – 80 minutes.  [For the smaller bundts, it took around 30 minutes] Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Use a wooden skewer to poke holes all over the cake and pour 1/4 cup of the warm glaze over the cake.  Let the cake cool for 5 minutes more.  Place a serving platter over the pan and invert to release the cake onto the platter.  Spoon the remaining glaze over the cake, a little at a time, and let stand until the glaze is completely absorbed into the cake.  If the glaze starts to pool at the base of the cake, use a small metal spatula to spread it up and around the sides of the cake.  As the glaze hardens, this will encase the cake in a rummy, sugary shell.

[Let’s just dwell on that phrase for a moment, shall we?  Rummy, sugary shell.  Yummmmmmmm.]

Let the cake cool comp;letely before cutting into wedges and serving.  [Ha!  I can say that when warm/hot, this cake is almost like banana bread pudding.  It’s so awesome.  Don’t deny yourself.] Will last 2 to 3 days if covered well.  And if your house contains only one person, or somebody who has no taste buds.  Otherwise, don’t plan on saving any.  It’s that darned good.

Yummy!

Yummy birthday cake

A little while ago, I made a birthday cake for someone to have at their “Free Cake Day” party (not wanting to have a Birthday Party, or really celebrate their birthday in general – I know!  How odd.)

I’d recently acquired Rose Beranbaum’s newest cake book (Heavenly Cakes), and wanted to make something from that . I settled on Woody’s Lemon Luxury Layer Cake (page 43), because the lemon flavor seemed bright and cheery, and I hadn’t really done anything interesting with white chocolate in a while.  Plus, I wanted to try out my new transfer sheets.

The cake is a lemon butter cake, baked in two 9″ layers that are split and filled with homemade lemon curd (Rose’s fabulous recipe, that works like a charm and tastes amazingly zingy).

The white chocolate lemon buttercream was the real surprise in this recipe.  The technique Rose calls for is one that I’d never come across before – essentially, you make a white chocolate custard, cool it, beat in butter and then beat until stiff peaks form – and then leave it at room temperature for up to 2 hours until “slightly thickened and spongy”.  Then you beat until smooth, and beat in the lemon curd.

Why the fermentation period?  The buttercream was smooth and creamy and tasty – everything you want – but I can’t quite figure this one out.  It’s easier, overall, than doing either French or Italian buttercream, but you have to have those two hours of downtime.  Does anyone know what’s going on, here?

In any case, the cake and buttercream both came out delicious, I put it all together and decorated with white chocolate shards, and served with either raspberry or blackberry cabernet sorbet.  The not-birthday-boy and his friends/family were highly pleased; very little of this cake was left after the party!  Another hit, Rose.