VPR Cooks: Recipes From The 5th Annual Cake Week

Apr 19, 2016

For five years now, VPR has hosted Cake Week, a five-day binge of creativity, quantity, sugar and camaraderie among public radio stations. Its origin story is based in the happy coincidence of several Vermont Public Radio staff birthdays in early April, but after one of our colleagues moved to another public radio station across the country, it became a competition. This year, a record SIX stations spent the week baking and eating cake. Here are a few of our favorites! Search for #cakeweek on  Twitter for more photos and boasting.

Lemon Chiffon Cake with Boiled Icing
VPR President Robin Turnau brought this masterpiece topped with a radio tower made out of popsicle sticks for our Radio themed day. The recipe is the lemon variation of this cake from our friends at King Arthur Flour, with Joy Of Cooking’s Seven Minute Frosting.

7 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp cream of tartar or 1 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk (whole or skim, or buttermilk for chocolate cake) 
3 tsp lemon extract
2 Tbsp lemon zest

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar or lemon juice until foamy. Gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Set aside. 

Whisk together the remaining 1 cup sugar with the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the oil, milk, egg yolks and flavorings until pale yellow. Add the dry ingredients and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes at medium speed using a stand mixer, or longer with a hand mixer. 

Gently fold in the whipped egg whites, using a wire whip or cake blender. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl so the batter is well-blended. Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan or angel food pan, or two 9-inch round ungreased cake pans. Bake the cake in a preheated 325°F oven. If it's in a tube or angel food pan, bake it for 50 minutes, then turn up the heat to 350°F for the final 10 minutes, making a total baking time of 1 hour. If you're using two 9-inch cake pans, bake for about 40 minutes at 325°F, then 10 minutes more at 350°F. Don't open the oven during the first 45 minutes of baking; the cake will rise high above the pan, then settle back almost even. It's done when a finger gently pressed in the middle doesn't leave a print, and you can hear a crackling sound if you listen carefully. Cool the cake upside down for 1/2 hour before removing it from the pan. If you've used a tube pan, set it atop a thin-necked bottle, threading the bottle neck through the hole in the tube. Frost the cake, and cut it just before serving; you'll need to dip a serrated knife in hot water between each slice if you want smooth, even pieces. 
 
Buckeye Bundt Cake
Staff Accountant Laura Schonfeld baked three cakes for Cake Week, and this Buckeye Bundt Cake was her submission for the day themed “Surprise Inside.” It's a chocolate cake with peanut butter filling and glazed with chocolate icing.

For Peanut Butter Filling:
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp whole milk

For Cake:
1 cup water
6 ounces unsalted butter + 1 tablespoon for greasing the pan
1/3 cup cocoa powder +2 tablespoons for dusting the pan
1 heaping Tbsp instant espresso powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

For Shiny Peanut Butter Chocolate Glaze:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp corn syrup
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
4 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a 10-12 cup bundt pan generously with 1 tablespoon of softened butter. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder into the pan and swirl it around to coat the entire pan evenly in a layer of cocoa powder. Pay attention especially to the middle tube and the bottom.

Make the filling by adding all of the peanut butter filling ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mixing with a hand mixer until smooth and no streaks of cream cheese or peanut butter remain. Set aside.

Heat the water, 6 ounces of butter, 1/3 cup of cocoa powder, espresso and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to remove any lumps. When butter is melted and the pot just comes to a boil, take off the heat and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar and baking soda. Whisk in the chocolate and butter mixture, followed by the 2 eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Whisk until there are no streaks of sour cream, but try not to overmix— a few lumps are okay.

Pour 3/4 of the batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Spoon the peanut butter cream cheese filling evenly on top of the batter, trying to keep it from touching the sides or middle tube.

Cover the peanut butter filling with the rest of the cake batter. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes.

Cool the cake for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a thin knife, if needed, and place a cake plate over the pan. Invert the pan so it’s resting cake-side down on the plate, and carefully lift the Bundt pan away from the cake.

Make the glaze by heating the cream, sugar, peanut butter and corn syrup to almost a boil. Pour the heated mixture over the chocolate and let it sit a minute to start melting. Whisk until smooth and shiny, then pour the mixture over the top of the cake.