Raine Stockton's Wedding Cake
In THE JUDGE'S DAUGHTER, Book # 15 of the Raine Stockton Dog Mystery series, Raine is pressured into finally make some wedding plans. She randomly decides on an "orange spice cake with walnut filling and lemon icing" which she claims she saw on the internet. I'll bet she got it from my friend Eileen Goudge's website!
Here's the recipe for the cake that inspired Raine's choice, generously provided by Eileen. The recipe calls for a 7-minute caramel frosting, and it's delicious, but if you try a lemon buttercream (as in Raine's version) let me know how it turns out.
SPICE CAKE WITH DATE-NUT FILLING AND CARAMEL FROSTING
This recipe was handed down to me by my mom. Its fragrance derives from its aromatic blend of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom. Light in texture, rich in taste, it’s the perfect cake for any occasion. For teatime or Sunday brunch, you can serve it unfrosted, dusted with confectioner’s sugar. For a fancier dessert, make it with the date-nut filling and seven-minute caramel frosting. It requires a little extra effort, but you will be amply rewarded.
Serves 8 to 10.
For the cake:
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 scant teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (preferably freshly-grated)
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks while chilled and softened
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment cut to fit the bottoms. Grease the parchment.
Sift the flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Discard any hard bits that have collected in the sifter. Scatter the softened butter chunks over the flour mixture. Add ½ cup of the buttermilk. With an electric mixer or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, beat until moistened and there are no visible butter chunks. (It will resemble cookie dough at this point).
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the remaining buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts, beating for 15 seconds after each addition. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, smoothing the tops. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a layer comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 2 minutes. Invert onto wire racks and cool completely. Place one layer on a serving plate. Spread with the date-nut filling (see recipe below). Place the remaining layer over the filling. Frost the top and sides of the cake with seven-minute caramel frosting (see recipe below). Garnish with toasted walnut halves.
Makes 1 ¼ cups.
¼ cup walnut pieces, plus 12 walnut halves (for garnish)
8 ounces (about 1 ½ cups) pitted, chopped dates
½ cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the walnuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Toast for 5 minutes. Remove the walnut pieces and toast the walnut halves for an additional 3 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, place the dates and orange juice. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium-low and stir for 3 minutes until the date mixture is a paste-like consistency. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange zest and toasted walnut pieces. Set aside to cool while you make the frosting.
SEVEN-MINUTE CARAMEL FROSTING
Makes enough to frost the top and sides of a nine-inch double-layer cake.
2 large egg whites
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
In the top of a double boiler or a large heatproof bowl, place the egg whites, sugars, cream of tartar, and salt. Add 1/3 cup of cold water. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat for one minute. Meanwhile, in the bottom of a double boiler or a large saucepan, bring 1½ to 2 cups of water to boil.
Place the top of the double boiler or bowl containing the beaten mixture over the boiling water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the pan. With an electric mixer on high speed, beat for about 7 minutes until stiff peaks form. Remove from the heat. Beat in the vanilla.
~*~This is without a doubt one of my favorite cakes ever! And it's perfect for holidays-- just like the Thanksgiving one coming up. As an added bonus, you can go to Eileen's website to download a free copy of her recipe book containing dozens of delicious goodies just like this. Happy holidays, everyone!