Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mojito Pound Cake

I'm not sure what search led me to the website Erin Cooks that had pictures of the Mojito Pound Cake on it, but I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to make it. I left that page up on my web browser for days and made a list of the ingredients I would need. I was initially going to make the cake based on her version of the recipe, but then I kept hearing about the book that the recipe came from -- Cake Love by Warren Brown. I found a copy at Borders and one quick flip through the book and I knew it was coming home with me since there are at least 8 recipes I want to try.

Other recipes in the book seriously intrigued me, but I decided to start with the Mojito Cake since that's what led me to the book in the first place. The book has pretty specific instructions on measuring, mixing and ingredients, and uses certain ingredients I had never seen used in cakes before, such as potato starch. The instructions for this recipe wanted fresh mint dried in the oven, but I opted out of that and used store bought pre-dried mint -- I'm sure the flavor would have been better the other way, but it would have added quite a bit of time to the cake and I just didn't want to use that time.

The recipe also called for an entire lime. The zest went into the butter and sugar for creaming, and the lime segments (after being separated from the white pith and membranes) were put into the liquid ingredients. One of the other interesting things about the recipes in the book is that almost all the recipes call for a dollop of liquor -- in this recipe rum and limoncella.

The cake itself wasn't that difficult to make -- no harder than most cakes with lots of mixing. Warran Brown's methods of measuring do create a whole kitchen's worth of dirty dishes though which is a bit annoying. Oh well, can't make a cake without creating a little mess. *sigh*

For the frosting Chris and I made a rum-flavored Italian Meringue Buttercream frosting. This was my first experience using the meringue method for buttercreams and the flavor of that frosting was amazingly rich and creamy. The frosting doesn't set up so well though, so probably not that great for piping, although with the creamy swirls you can make on a basic layer cake you don't really need much in the way of piped decorations.

And the most important part -- the flavor: rich. I took two bites of the cake and had enough. Not that it was bad -- far from it, just that the frosting was so buttery and creamy that two bites were more than enough to satisfy me. (plus there was a special on t.v. all about obesity which kind of ruined some of the pleasure of it...) The mint and lime were balanced and the rum flavor faint... it's a different sort of cake and different sort of frosting for me, but if you like mojitos then this is definitely a cake to try.

As with most of the other books I own I would recommend that everyone interested in this recipe buy the book. The recipe I put here does not do a bit of justice to the author's descriptions and variations. Plus, there is also always the risk of typos (I made a big mistake on the oreo recipe the other day which I only discovered the next day...) which could easily ruin a good recipe.

2 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 whole cloves (ground into a fine powder with a morter and pestle or coffee grinder)
1/3 cup oven dried mint crumbled

2/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon limoncello
1 lime outer rind removed and segmented

2 sticks room temperature unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups extra-fine granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lime zest
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Incorporated all of the dry ingredients into a bowl, whisk briefly, and set aside. Incorporated all of the liquid ingredients into a bowl, whisk briefly, and set aside. Measure the butter, sugar, eggs, and yolks into separate bowls and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment) cream together the butter, sugar, and lime zest on the lowest setting for 4 to 5 minutes.

With the mixer still on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time followed by the yolks, fully incorporating after each addition.

Add the dry ingredient mixture, alternating with the liquid mixture in 3 to 5 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Move swiftly through this step to avoid overworking the batter. Don’t wait for the dry or liquid mixtures to be fully incorporated before adding the next. This step should take a total of about 60 seconds.

Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds to develop the batters structure.

Prepare the cake pans. For 9-inch-round cakes, line the bottom of each pan with parchment. Deposit the batter evenly into the pans and smooth out with an offset spatula, making sure the pans are two-thirds full. Bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and cool to room temperature on a wire rack, about 25 to 30 minutes before removing from the pan. Loosen the cake gently from the pan with a small offset spatula and invert onto a flat surface. Remove the parchment from the bottom of each cake and wrap the layers tightly in plastic. You can refrigerate the layers overnight or up to 5 days before frosting.

Rum-Flavored Italian Meringue Buttercream
5 egg whites 1 1/4 cups extra-fine granulated sugar 1/4 cup cold water 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp 2 - 4 tablespoons of dark rum (to taste)

Set out the ingredients and the equipment. Make sure that the bowl of the mixer and the whip attachment are completely clean and dry.

Separate the egg whites into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment. Measure 1 cup sugar and the water into a 1-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Gently stir with the candy thermometer to combine. Place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar into a small bowl and set aside. Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces and set aside in a medium bowl.

To make the sugar syrup, place the candy thermometer in the saucepan and heat the mixture over medium-high heat. Partially cover with a lid to capture the evaporating water-this helps to moisten the sides of the saucepan to prevent sugar crystals from forming.

With the mixer on high speed, begin whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks. When the peaks are stiff you have a meringue -- this took about 2 minutes mixing on high speed. Keep the mixer running and pour the 1/4 cup of sugar into the meringue.

Raise the heat under the sugar syrup to bring the syrup to 245 degrees, if it is not there already. When the syrup is at 245 degrees, remove the thermometer and slowly pour the syrup into the meringue.

After 1 or 2 minutes reduce the mixer speed to medium for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the meringue is cooled. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the mixer speed to high for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the butter is fully incorporated. Finally add in the dark rum and spread onto your pound cake. Decorate as desired.

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