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Jun 10, 2012 08:53 AM

Cake Day!

So yesterday, 10 chowfriends got together to hold our 2nd annual Cake Day. This is a very happy day where we spend the entire day taking turns baking cakes and just hanging out and laughing. When all the cakes are done, we do a tasting all of the cakes and pack a slice of each for everyone to take home. It's a wonderful way to celebrate the joy of cakes and get a sampling of different recipes.

The recipe I wanted to share here was the brown butter pecan cornmeal cake that I got from Smitten Kitchen (which she got from a NY Times article about North Carolina and Watt's Grocery). It's very easy and has the most wonderful caramel-y, nutty flavour and fantastic texture. I could eat a LOT of this cake. Not too sweet and is delicious on its own, but can be elevated with some whipped cream or ice cream. It only has 3 Tbs. of white flour, so I imagine it could very easily be adapted for gluten-free eaters. Be warned, though, that the batter is delicious and you may run the risk of eating the entire bowl if you're not careful.

I also made a strawberry custard layer cake using Rose Levy Berenbaum's white velvet cake. This was my first time make this cake and it really has a lovely soft crumb that paired perfectly with ripe, local strawberries and the pastry cream. I frosted with the cooked flour buttercream that I got from this board.

Here's a photo of the table with all the cakes, as well as a close up of the brown butter pecan cornmeal cake and the strawberry custard cake.

I have to give a shout out to my friend's pandan butter cake with a gula melaka (coconut sugar) buttercream. I was inordinately fond of this cake with its light green cake layers and simply delicious buttercream that had the most amazing nutty rich flavour from the gula melaka. Probably my favorite cake of the day. Photo attached.

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  1. I love this idea! Do you come up w/ a list of cakes ahead of time and then do it all at once? Hwo did you divide the labor? How long is the party? Even better, how do I get on the invite list? ;-)

    The RLB strawberry cake is eye catching. What did you think of it? It sounds like a upgraded version of strawberry shortcake. Did the flour buttercream go well with it? Thanks for sharing!

    6 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      Everyone chooses what cake they want to make. My kitchen has 2 ovens, and a friend brought half her kitchen over (including her KitchenAid mixer), so we had two full baking stations going. Everyone was responsible for making their own cake. So there were always two cakes in the oven and two people making their cakes in the kitchen. And usually someone washing dishes! I provided all the "basic" baking ingredients, and everyone brought any special ingredients they needed.

      Due to scheduling issues, 4 people made their cakes at home and brought them over, but 6 of us made our cakes the day of (one person made 2 cakes that day). We started at 11 and we were eating cake by around 5pm, I think.

      I thought the strawberry custard cake was delicious. It was indeed a very strawberry shortcake-like cake! The buttercream worked perfectly, as it's not too sweet and I find it "reads" very much like a sweetened whipped cream, but is a lot more stable so no worries about melting or getting too soft at room temp. I do need to work on my pastry cream, though. I used Dorie Greenspan's recipe and it set up way too thick. I lightened it with whipped cream and it was fine in the end, but I think I'll try using less cornstarch next time and see if that gets me the texture I want.

      If you do your own cake day, it's good to have bakery boxes and lots of parchment paper on hand to pack up the slices at the end of the day.

      And hey, if you're in the Toronto area next summer, let me know, and you are officially invited. :)

      1. re: TorontoJo

        This sounds like so much fun. I'm thinking it probably worked better for some people to bring their own cakes already done. I need to find a space with a double oven!

        I prefer pastry cream that's been lightened with whipped cream which is how I've been making my Boston cream pies lately. I like the flour buttercream frosting and thought it seemed very much like a whipped cream. I need to use it more but I'm too impatient with waiting for the flour to cool. I've had curdled cream on more than one occasion.

        1. re: chowser

          What is flour buttercream frosting? I saw it mentioned the other day and missed the link while I got lost in reading the various threads...

            1. re: chowser

              Thanks chowser, I'll pay more attention from now on!

        2. re: TorontoJo

          I have used Dorie Greenspan's butter cream recipe and found it perfect

      2. What a delightful and fun idea, TorontoJo! And some gorgeous-looking (and I'm sure tasting!) cakes.

        4 Replies
        1. re: roxlet

          Thanks, roxlet. It really is so much fun. :)

          chowser, here's a photo of the inside of the strawberry custard cake for you. I need to make this again while strawberries are still in season.

          1. re: TorontoJo

            TorontoJo.. sounds like a great day, and a fabulous idea!! Cakes look gorgeous..

            1. re: TorontoJo

              That looks mouthwatering. I love how thin the cake layers are. I need to do it, too, while berries are in season.

              1. re: chowser

                Yep, it's just two 9" layer cakes split into two layers each (thank goodness for my cake layer cutter -- the best single-use device I've ever bought) The more custard and berries the better in my book!

          2. This sounds like fun. I'm going to try the cornmeal pecan cake this week as a GF peach upside down cake. Thanks for the link!

            1 Reply
            1. re: maxie

              Oh I'm glad, as it's really a delicious cake! I didn't strain the solids from the brown butter, as I think that's where half the flavor is. I just kept stirring so that the solids didn't burn.

            2. Oh this is a FABULOUS idea -- I'm going to send to my regional Chowhound group. I think we have some "home cooking" members that are in in both Southeast and HomeCooking groups. I'm ALL for this idea and I'm totally going to snag your ideas!

              FYI I just made Southern Living's lemon curd pound cake last night for the first time [] and it was pretty darn tasty!

              What a great idea for your CH group!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Tehama

                Darn, I was trying to cut back on my list of things to bake and now I have another one to add to it!

                1. re: Tehama

                  Go for it, Tehama! It's a great way to spend a day. Just make sure that you plan to feed the troops, as it's a long day. :) I set up a crock pot with chili and a waffle maker with cornmeal batter, and also a crock pot with braised pork belly and a pot of rice and some cucumber salad. Easy stuff to make and hold over a long day, and folks could just help themselves whenever they were feeling peckish.

                2. So a heads up for anyone looking to make the SK brown butter pecan recipe:

                  I just figured out why my cake looked so much darker than SK's photo. It's because I accidentally used double the amount of toasted pecans. Huh. I wouldn't make it any other way now, as it was SO nutty good the way I made it.

                  Oops. :)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    Sounds like the best type of cooking accident..!