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I hear from a lot of people about cakes they make for their families and coworkers or in their start-up businesses. Sometimes they want to compare recipes; other times they’re just swapping stories. You might think that there isn’t too much to a cake, until you take a close look at the different flavors that appear in kitchens across the country. The cakes popping out of the ovens in America sound as diverse as they are delicious. After a while I started wondering—what do we bake, and how? Baking from scratch is one of those disappearing arts that deserve preservation. That’s when I realized I needed to get out of D.C. and learn what’s baking across the United States of America. What connects a cake with a state? Sometimes history and tradition bond the two. Sometimes a crop makes up the backbone of the recipe or is the central flavor. Other times the cake reflects one of the many cultures in a given state. In a few instances, states have passed legislation recognizing official state desserts. What gives them common ground is the simple fact that in the United States we like desserts, and we celebrate our lives and our heritage with them at every occasion. Passive research for this book began years ago, pre-CakeLove and all the way back to family vacations when I was a boy. Casually working my way through the options for dessert has always been one of the pleasures I enjoy. I’m a foodie at heart—I enjoy tasting something different at every meal just for the sake of adventure. Memories of cake for dessert or after-school snacks are some of the highlights from my past. The active research was a lot of mental notes and ideas scrawled on scraps of paper since my early days of research leading up to opening CakeLove in 2002. Owning a bakery also means that whenever I travel I’m obligated to seek out local bakeries and try a few items—it’s really tough work! I look for specialties and never hesitate to ask how they were made. The hints and secrets I’ve learned are all here. Finally, research for a book about what we’re baking in our homes wouldn’t have been possible without the vast resources on the Internet. Diving into the world of America’s home kitchens has a new meaning now that there are blogs and recipes posted online. I had a lot of fun adapting and tweaking traditional recipes that everyone loves. Each state has at least one entry, but I couldn’t resist dropping in a few extras when going with just one cake would have left great recipes in the


united cakes of america



2 teaspoons


½ teaspoon



Superfine granulated sugar, divided

10 ounces (1¼ cups)


¼ cup

4 ounces of butter. The yolk base will lose volume— that’s okay.

8. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the melted

for the frosting Cooked-Meringue Buttercream (recipe follows)

7. Reduce the speed to low and add in the remaining

1 recipe

chocolate to the mixer about a quarter at a time without pausing for the ingredients to combine. Detach the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the cooked meringue in two stages. It will be stiff at first. Use caution not to overmix it or you will deflate the batter.

1. Preheat the oven to 335°F and place the rack in the middle position. Line the bottoms of two 9-by-2-inch round pans with parchment.

2. Melt the chocolates, 1 ounce of the butter, and the half-and-half in a double boiler over steaming water. Once melted, remove the pot from the water and whisk to combine the ingredients. Set aside.

9. Divide the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the top appears dry, soft, and flat. It will give slightly to a very light touch.

10. Cool the cakes for about 20 minutes, then run a metal

Superfine granulated sugar, divided

10 ounces (1¼ cups)


¼ cup

Egg whites


Unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-size pieces

16 ounces (4 sticks)

small, heavy-bottom saucepan over medium to high heat and cook until the temperature registers 245°F on a candy thermometer.

mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. (Discard the 2 leftover whites or reserve them for another use.) When the sugar syrup measures 240°F on a candy thermometer, drizzle it slowly into the meringue while


united cakes of america

with an offset spatula and stack into a four-layer cake. Then pipe on the frosting with an open star tip to cover the top and sides of the cake, or just spread it lavishly with the spatula.

speed to high to fully incorporate it.

6. Add any flavoring desired (see box, page 136). peak in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment. Time everything so that the sugar syrup reaches 245°F at about the same time the egg whites form stiff peaks.






when abraham lincoln and mary todd were courting in springfield, illinois, she served him vanillaalmond cake, which became a favorite in the lincoln white house.

spea k o f the de v il The name devil’s food cake was coined at a time when people associated all things white with angelic qualities and all things dark with devilish ones. While we’ve all come a long way from such far-fetched ideas, the name remains with us. Besides, from today’s perspective it’s safe to say that the cake’s decadence makes people see it as a sinful indulgence.

5. Place 4 of the egg whites in the bowl of a standing

12. Spread about 1 cup of frosting between each layer

5. Add the butter to the meringue and increase the

  

saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.

between the revolving wire whip and the side of the bowl. Reduce the speed to medium high after 30 seconds and continue to whip for another 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Combine 6 ounces of the sugar and the water in a

4. In a slow and steady stream, pour the sugar syrup

2. Meanwhile, whip the egg whites on high speed to stiff

11. To assemble the cake, slice each cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife to create four layers.

remaining 2 ounces sugar into the egg whites and continue to whip on high speed.

1. Combine 8 ounces of the sugar and the water in a

3. Measure the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. Separate the eggs and set the yolks aside.

3. Just before the sugar syrup is ready, drizzle the

offset spatula around the rim of each and invert the cakes onto a flat surface. Cool completely.

Yield: Enough for one 9-inch layer cake


Baking powder

  

1 tablespoon


mixer’s bowl and whip with the wire whip—there’s no need to clean the bowl or whip. You can even leave the cooked meringue that’s stuck inside the whip. Whip on high speed until the yolks are pale yellow, about 2 minutes.

8 ounces (1½ cups)

All-purpose flour

6. Add the reserved yolks and 2 ounces of sugar to the

½ cup

  


This is a wonderfully rich but light buttercream. Because of its super-smooth texture it’s often mistaken for whipped cream. I highly recommend it for frosting and decorating—just be sure to work with it and serve it at room temperature. It will keep well in the fridge and freezes easily.

5 ounces (1 stick + 2 tablespoons)

Unsalted butter, very soft, divided

the mixer is on high speed. Whip for another 20 seconds and then remove the meringue from the bowl and set aside.

  

2 ounces

Bittersweet chocolate (60% cocoa)

2 ounces

T h e M i dw e st

Unsweetened chocolate (100% cocoa)

Cooked-Meringue Buttercream


Yield: One 9-inch layer cake


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United Cakes of America  

Loving cake is a natural part of Warren Brown’s constitution. Now, in order to form a more perfect union of flour, eggs, butter, and sugar,...

United Cakes of America  

Loving cake is a natural part of Warren Brown’s constitution. Now, in order to form a more perfect union of flour, eggs, butter, and sugar,...

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