I like to give a cake plate with a glass dome as a wedding present. Simultaneously useful and beautiful, a cake plate and dome promises good times ahead and a lifetime of celebrations to share. And it keeps your cake fresh and the flies off. What could be better?
At the check-out counter of a shop last week, I asked for a cake plate and glass dome. Please wrap it as a wedding present, I said. The young clerk was halfway through the door to the stockroom when she stopped and popped her head back through the opening.
“Do you always give a cake plate as a wedding present?” she said. Aha! A mind-reader, I thought, and I told her yes, usually. “My grandmother did, too,” the clerk said. “She was a caterer, and she went to lots of weddings. She always either gave a cake plate or a cookbook as a gift.” What a wise woman, I said.
Here’s what’s been under my dome lately.
Orange-Chocolate Mini-Chip Cake, (adapted from a recipe in Barefoot Contessa Parties!, by Ina Garten, © 2001, published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York. Ms. Garten makes her cake with chunks of chocolate, and it’s really delicious warm from the oven, but those chunks harden when cool, and that has a deleterious effect on the otherwise tender cake. A mini-chip, however, remains palatable no matter what the temperature of the cake.)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
Freshly grated zest from 4 large oranges
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided use
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed from one of the oranges zested above
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces mini-chocolate chips
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed from one of the oranges zested above
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (regular size)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, combine the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar. Beat together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, then sprinkle in the orange zest and continue to mix. (The zest often collects around the beater, so be sure to scrape both the beater and the sides of the bowl periodically.)
In a large bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl with a pouring lip combine the 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. With the mixer on medium-low, add the flour mixture in thirds to the mixer bowl, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Combine the mini-chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons flour and stir into the batter. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl thoroughly, then pour into the prepared Bundt pan. Bake at 350°F. for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the cake tests done. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
While the cake cools, make the syrup by combining 1/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, swirling to dissolve the sugar. When the syrup is clear, remove from heat. After cake has cooled in the pan for 10 minutes, turn it out decorative side up onto a rack placed over a baking sheet. Spoon the hot syrup over the warm cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.
To make the ganache, stir together the chocolate chips and coffee powder in a heat-proof bowl. Microwave the heavy cream until it is hot but not boiling. (Careful; don’t scorch the cream.) Pour over the chocolate chips and coffee powder and stir until the chocolate melts. Combine thoroughly, and then pour slowly and evenly over the top of the cake. Let cool to set, then serve.
(A message for foodies regarding substituting large eggs for extra-large eggs. [Those not interested in food minutia might like to exit here.] Ina Garten uses only extra-large eggs in her recipes. Most home cooks use only large eggs. I’ve bought extra-large eggs specifically for her recipes, and then ended up with half of a carton left over: not cost-effective unless one cooks from Ms. Garten’s books exclusively. I’ve tried adjusting for the difference in volume by adding a little more beaten egg to whole large eggs, which requires too much guesswork for my comfort. Turns out the difference in volume between a large egg and an extra-large egg is .25 ounce. Because the wet/dry ratio is so important in baking, I’ve added 2 tablespoons of orange juice to the cake batter here to make up for the loss of liquid resulting from substituting large eggs for extra-large eggs.)