Wednesday, 4 July 2012

United Bakes of America Round Two...and a Smith Island Cake for the state of Maryland!


Apologies for the delayed round up of United Bakes of America! I have been away in London all weekend and have only just been reunited with my macbook! Fear not, I was still doing challenge related things like supporting America on the courts at Wimbledon! yeah I painted American flags on my cheeks and waved my flag cheering on Mardy Fish on Court no.2...and the BBC commentators even zoomed in on us in the game and started talking about what a big week it was for Americans this week with July 4th as well (I, of course, loved the fact they were referring to me as an American - if only they knew!)


So back to the cake! This month I baked up the Smith Island Cake which comes from the state of Maryland.  It became Maryland's official state dessert in 2008 and is meant to be made up of multiple very thin layers of yellow cake with chocolate buttercream filling and dark chocolate frosting on the outside.  I say meant to be because although in the recipe it stated you should get 5 or 6 layers I only got 4.  Perhaps they used 9 inch tins and I used 8 inch tins...how many layers you made in the end really didn't matter because the amount of frosting the recipe made was only enough to cover 3 layers so in the end it became a 3 layer cake! Not quite as impressive but still delicious! 


Smith Island is the state's only inhabited off-shore island with a population of less than 400, most of whom make a living through crabbing or oystering.  Frances Kitching, a born-and-bred Smith Islander ran an inn and restaurant for 30 years and was one of the island's most celebrated inhabitants.  In 1981 she published a cookbook titled 'Mrs Kitching's Smith Island Cookbook' which included a recipe for Smith Island Cake, although it's not known who first made the local speciality.

The yellow cake recipe called for icing sugar as one of the dry ingredients and evaporated milk as one of the wet ingredients.  I've never used either of those in a cake I've made before and was intrigued as to how it would turn out.  The cake itself is one of the best vanilla/yellow cakes I have ever tasted - I really think the icing sugar gives it an added sweetness and there was an added fluffiness too which I loved! I think it could be to do with the use of a mix of shortening and butter rather than all butter, it makes the cake more delicate and fragile and in my opinion more delicious! 


The frosting was a whole other story! It also used a method I have never encountered before which consisted of boiling the butter and milk on the hob, and then whisking that mixture into icing sugar and cocoa powder.  It was meant to come out looking like a fluffy light chocolate buttercream (that's what the picture showed).  Mine came out more like a chocolate glaze icing, very sugary with a slight crust to it once cooled.  It still tasted good, and was different to the usual creamy frostings I whip up so it made a change but I think in the future I would use a proper tried and tested chocolate buttercream for this cake. 


Warren Love (the author of United Cakes of America) says purists would never stray from the original of yellow cake and chocolate frosting, although he had heard of crushed up candy bars being used as decoration.  So I decided since one of my favourite Americans, Milah, comes from Maryland and one of her favourite candy bars is Butterfingers that it would only be appropriate to decorate my Maryland state cake with her favourite chocolate! If you've never tried a Butterfinger they are sort of like peanut butter brittle, crunchy on the inside with lots of layers of crisp peanut buttery goodness and then a coating of chocolate around the outside - you can find them here.

Smith Island Cake:
Makes 4 8" layers

For the cake:
Dry: 
2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Wet:
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1/2 cup whole milk
4 tsp vanilla extract
Creaming:
8 oz unsalted butter
2 oz vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
5 eggs

For the frosting:
4 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 cup whole milk or evaporated milk
1/3 cup dark chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Grease your cake pans.

Measure the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients into separate bowls.  Whisk each to combine.  
Measure the butter, shortening and sugar into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Combine on medium to low speed for about 5 mins.  Add the eggs, one at a time, to the well creamed butter mixture.
Alternately add the dry and wet ingredients about a quarter at a time.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds.  
Pour about 1 1/2 cups of batter into each prepared pan.  
Bake the cakes for approximately 12 minutes or until the top surfaces have slightly browned edges (Mine took about 20 but I was cooking in a different oven so don't be surprised if they take longer).
Leave cakes to cool in tins for 10 minutes, then insert a knife all the way around the edge and flip out each cake onto a piece of parchment paper.  Once cooled, wrap in cling film whilst making the icing to ensure they don't dry out.  

Sieve the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a large bowl and set aside.  
In a large heavy bottom saucepan set over medium heat, bring the butter and the milk to a rolling boil, stirring often.
Reduce the temperature to low and whisk the boiling liquid into the icing sugar.  Scrape this back into the saucepan and bring to a simmer for about 15 mins.  Add more milk if the mixture thickens too much.  It should not get pasty.  
Scrape the hot mixture into a large bowl.  Fold in the melted chocolate with a flexible spatula unti the frosting takes on a deep even colour.
Allow it to cool to room temperature.  Give it a few stirs with a flexible spatular to smooth it out.
* At this point, mine was not resembling anything near a spreadable consistency so I added about 2-3 tbsp evaporated milk and beat it with the paddle attachment for about 3-4 minutes to make it fluffier and more spreadable.  

Assemble the cake by spreading a 1/4 inch layer of icing between all the cake layers and swirling a good amount of icing around the outside of the cake.  I found that using a knife dipped in hot water helped to smooth out the frosting nicely.  
Finish by chopping up mini Butterfingers and placing in the middle of the cake.

Now on to what everyone else has been baking this month! 

Susie from Fold in the Flour made this rather grand looking Chocolate and Coffee Cake with Espresso Buttercream.  The original recipe she used was an American one but she has very kindly converted it into metric measurement for all you UK bakers out there! The flavour of the cake is also very appropriate to UBA as statistics suggest that whilst British people drink about 3.9 million cups of coffee per week that Americans drink somewhere around 339 million cups per day, so it seems Americans really love their coffee! 


Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker made these very inventive Maple and Pecan cupcakes! The maple cupcakes were baked using a recipe from Paula Deen and the maple syrup frosting came from Martha Stewart - you can't get any bigger than those two American baking legends! so I can only imagine how amazing these tasted! and a sprinkling of pecans on top just finishes them off beautifully! 


Speaking of pecans, my sister Mara whipped up this huge Hummingbird sheet cake for refreshments at a church activity she went to.  I love the cinnamon stenciled butterfly on top! and the cute little flags! and she finished off the sides of her cake with some sprinkled pecans too.  Hummingbird is a traditional  American cake hailing from the south (North Carolina) and is made from pineapple, banana and pecans and always has cream cheese frosting as an accompaniment.  


and finally moving a little further down south, you get to Mississippi and what is Mississippi famous for? Mississippi Mud Pie of course! so Laura Loves Cakes made these super cute mini Mississippi Mud Pies! In my opinion, everything looks and tastes better when it's mini or is that just me?! and what's better than a chocolate pastry and a chocolate filling finished off with a nice dollop of cream! yum! 


A huge thanks to everyone who entered this month! I know with it being Jubilee and Olympics this last little while most bakes have been focusing on England but I'm glad to see some of us are still keeping the American baking going! I love to see what you come up with! 

Remember, if you'd like to join along you can with any recipe that involves an American ingredient or where the author is American or where the dish is inspired by a state! Email me your entry by the 30th to be included in the roundup, there's a recap of the rules here if you're visiting for the first time :)

This month I will be baking the Apple Butter Cake from West Virginia! 

Oh yeah...and HAPPY 4TH OF JULY everyone!! Hope you all have an amazingly delicious day!


Disclosure: American Soda provided me with these complimentary products.  However my participation was voluntary, and all opinions and views expressed are my own.

33 comments:

  1. Great timing Gem - Happy 4th July! Your cake looks fab and you may have only got three layers in the end, but it looks beautifully even! I love the sound of the Butterfingers - a recipe I did not so long ago needed them, but I coukdn't find any in time. It's nice to know where to get some so perhaps I'll finally get around to trying one! :)

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    1. Yeah you should definitely try them, they're SO tasty if you're a peanut butter fan which I know you are! Happy 4th July to you too! Fortunately the cake baked really flat so I didn't need to do any trimming of the layers, they just baked like that themselves for me!

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  2. Happy 4th July Gem - party your heart out!! Your cake looks amazing - it would be huge if it was 5 or 6 layers!! I think the icing looks fab and the butterfingers on top are perfect. I'm bookmarking this recipe to try as I really want a taste. Great round up too! I have another one for your later today - I can't keep away from American baking so you can probably count on me most months :)

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    1. Yeah it would have been wouldn't it! but I think the layers probably should have been thinner and that's why I ran out of mix in the end! I really did love the taste of the cake itself so would definitely recommend you trying it out. I'm glad you bake American style goods so often, it's what makes you one of my very fave blogs!!

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  3. What a cute post idea! And I love that you camped out for Wimbledon - I bet the experience was unforgettable! XOL

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    1. It really was! and this year we made sure we were properly insulated unlike last year when I was sharing just one sleeping bag with my sister and we didn't even bring pillows and it ended up being an unforgettable experience but for the wrong reasons! This time we were properly kit-ed out so it was super fun!

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  4. Can't wait to try my hand at this cake! Happy Fourth!

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    1. Yes please do, it's definitely going to be my go to vanilla cake now and I've been searching for one for aaaages!

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  5. Happy belated 4th July!

    I'm admiring the frosting of your Smith Island cake... love the super glossy finish :D

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    1. Thanks! it all seemed to be going wrong at one stage but in the end it came together and I loved how glossy it looked too!

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  6. happy be-lated 4 th of July, yes your layers are too thick, if they where a litle thinner you would have ended up with all the 5 or 6 layers. It looks great do and bet was NHAM!!!!

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    1. yes unfortunately the recipe stated a cup and a half of mixture for each layer and so I dutifully followed and only realised after I'd baked the first 3 layers that there wasn't going to be enough to go around! I'll know for next time though!

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  7. This cake looks so super. Never heard of it before! yum yum!

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    1. I hadn't heard of it before but I'm so glad I know it now as it will be my go to vanilla cake for the future!

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  8. What a pretty looking cake, I love the sound of using icing sugar and evaporated milk in the sponge. It looks like it has a really lovely texture.

    I was just reading your comment on Ros' Scottish tablet post and feel I have to say I'm so sorry you encountered such horrible people in Scotland. (Out of curiosity, where were you staying?) It makes me feel really bad, even though I obviously have no control over other people's behaviour. Honestly, there are lovely people up here too!

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    1. Ah thanks, I was staying in Stirling (which I guess makes it more understandable)! I did have a friend at Edinburgh Uni and I went to visit him often and everyone was lovely there and he had an awesome experience but unfortunately the people of Stirling still seem to be stuck in a history rut and apparently my ancestors were to blame for William Wallace (despite the fact my mom is South African and my dad is Irish so really none of my ancestors were involved!!) Where abouts do you live? I hadn't realised you were Scottish!

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    2. p.s I know Stirling is a random pick in the first place but when you know that in the 3rd year I would have had an opportunity to do a year abroad and their exchange universities were all in California you may understand my reasons for choosing it! hehe

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  9. i have nominated you for an award :) check it out http://messmakesfood.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/super-sunday-update.html

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    1. Thanks I will pop over and check it out, sorry it's taken me so long to do it!

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  10. What a great round up! I've never heard of this cakes but suinds rich and lovely. Looks lovely as well.

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    1. Thanks, I hadn't heard of it either but now it's a tasty new addition to my repertoire!

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  11. Brilliant I love your cake as well as all the others!

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    1. Thanks! it was a great month of entry's!

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  12. I love the look of the cake.. I'm drooling. I'm going to make this weekend and surprise hubby with it:) Thanks.

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    1. Ah what a lovely idea! how did it turn out?

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  13. That first cake looks absolutely amazing - really moist and sticky. Reading this post has made me seriously hungry :-)

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    1. Hehe yes one of the downfalls of filling your google reader full of food blogs - never browse them on an empty stomach, it's torture!

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  14. Yum this looks really tasty and its decoarted nicely too!

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    1. Thanks, you'd never know I slapped that frosting on in 5 minutes as I was running out the door to Wimbledon would you!

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  15. Gorgeous cake and a great round up! I love this challenge, and I am going to be able to enter again soon woo hoo - I found some mint M&Ms in a sweet shop and am going to bake something with them in the next few weeks (unless I eat them first!). And wow that's awesome you had a trial shift at Primrose, gutted it didn't work out (although moving abroad is probably more exciting!!)

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    1. Hehe you're right I'd rather have Canada any day over the job there, and I found a better paying job for the summer in the end anyway so it all worked out for the best! Exciting about your mint m&m's! I hope you're able to bake them in time for entering it into UBA! Looking forward to your entry :)

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  16. WOW that looks like an amazing CAKE :) Well done! I've heard quite a lot of people use the boiling method lately ~ But I've never tried it hehe ~

    I'm sorry that i haven't had the chance to participate in your challenge but I promise I will soon :D

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    1. That's okay Daisy, I know how hectic stuff is...I've been crazy busy myself recently and have about 10 past bakes all ready to be blogged about and entered into various challenges but finding the time to do it is a whole other story!
      I was a bit scared to try the boiling method but it turned out okay in the end and tasted yummy too!

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