Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Four Superb Birthday Cakes (pt. 2)

Happy Birthday Harry Potter!!! Thirty-two years ago (according to Dame Rowling) our hero was born to James and Lily Potter. And to celebrate, we will continue our exploration through the lovely birthday cakes sent to him by his friends for his fourteenth birthday in The Goblet of Fire:

"And then on Harry's birthday (which the Dursleys had completely ignored) he had received four superb birthday cakes, one each from Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, and Sirius" (Goblet of Fire 28).

As you can see, our next cake is from Hermione. Dinah Bucholz decided that Hermione sent Harry a Cherry Bakewell Cake, so that is what we shall make!

For the Almond Cake, You Will Need:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 sticks (12 Tbs) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 whole milk, at room temperature

For the Butter Frosting, You Will Need:
2 sticks (16 Tbs) butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs whole milk

To Finish the Cake, You Will Need:
1/2 cup cherry preserves
Maraschino cherries, for decorating
Toasted sliced almonds, for decorating

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8" round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl and set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed, about 5 minutes. Add the almond extract and beat until combined.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each until combined.

5. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour, while mixing on the lowest speed to combine. Finish by scraping down and folding the batter together with a rubber spatula.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for about 25 minutes, until the cakes feel soft but firm (what?) when touched lightly in the center, or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

7. For the frosting, beat all the frosting ingredients together until smooth, creamy, and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed, about 7 minutes.

8. To assemble the cake, place 1 cake top-side down on your serving dish/cake round. Spread the cherry preserves on top, spreading all the way to the edges. 

9. Top with the second cake, top-side up. Spread about 1 cup of the frosting on top of the cake and the rest into a pastry bag. Use the pastry bag to pipe a decorative border around the edges of the cake. 

10. Line the inside of the border with maraschino cherries about 1" apart. 

11. Sprinkle the middle space with the toasted almonds.

This cake is delicious. And so pretty! Sweetness of cherries and subtlety of almonds? Yes please! I highly recommend you pull this one out for your next birthday party. And many happy returns to our beloved Harry Potter!

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