Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Cherry-ish" and the Sweet Birthday Stuff

This past weekend marked one of the busiest I've had in a long time. School was back in session on Saturday down at George Brown after a cancelled class last weekend due to the snow, and Sunday marked my mom's birthday bash (which saw close to 40 people in our house and has given us more leftovers than we can eat in a week! P.S.: Thanks Andrew for taking a bunch!). I figured that we had lost out on the Black Forest Cake lesson, which I was looking forward to, because of the cancellation, so I opted to take the train downtown again instead of driving (which is what I had planned on for the cake's transportation purposes). Well, imagine my surprise-turned-annoyance when I walked into class only to find Black Forest Cake gracing the board in a very different scrawl from Amjad's. Yup, March Break Madness doesn't only take over the students, it seems. I forget our substitute prof's name, but she is a quicker demonstrator than Amjad and was very to-the-point when it came to the finer points of slicing and assembly. Not feeling so great that day, my slicing abilities were a tad... shall we say... off (you mean 45 degrees isn't straight?), but luckily my partner Ferdie was able to help rescue our shared cake round so my final product was at least presentable.

To keep costs down in this class we do have to use the cheaper and slightly lower-quality ingredients of shortening, processed, gluey pie filling and "whipped topping" to stand in for the more accepted butter, fresh cherries and whipped 35% cream found in the high-end cakes out there. This is where we have our introduction of what one of my classmates dubbed "cherry-ish" - in with it's buddies "apple-ish" and "un-cream". Personally, I use canned pie filling... cherry kind ONLY... because I just can't be bothered to pit, stem and cook down enough cherries for a pie myself! Usually I do thin it down to a less Jell-O like consistency out of personal preference, but for this class it was glue all the way. The quality loss actually wasn't noticeable outwardly until today when I went to divide it for Andrew and my dad to take with them. As soon as my cuts became thinner than 1/4 of the 7" cake, the slices cracked. Crispy cake? Nah, I'll pass, thanks. Especially when there are two delicate, moist and richer cakes waiting in the fridge that are better for my body than the processed (albeit pretty) GBC creation.

One of these two cakes you've already seen on here... it's the same Buttermilk Vanilla Cake I had made for my Grandma's birthday back in January. The only difference here was that I used all whole-wheat pastry flour instead of the white stuff. Everyone who had some had high praise for the texture and flavour of it, since it isn't a sweet cake like the kind you'd find in a standard bakeshoppe. The second cake (and my favourite creation for the party) was one I created way back in November or December off the top of my head when I was experimenting with different flours... a chocolate, espresso, peanut butter and buckwheat creation I named the Nutty Night Owl Cake. Never having made it before, it was a case of complete blind faith going in, but it turned out beautifully and the reviews came back raving about the complex flavour of the crumb as well as the moist texture. I mentioned to a few of the guests that it was actually a fairly light cake as far as calories and fat content went, especially since it had no butter (only a small amount of olive oil) and the addition of rich prune puree, healthy, natural peanut butter and tangy buttermilk for the bulk of the moisture content. I even subbed in No Sugar Added chocolate for the regular bittersweet called for in this recipe since we had a few diabetics in the house. While I'm not claiming that the cake is in any way a "health" food, I know that my mom doesn't feel bad taking on her share of the leftovers!

Nutty Night Owl Cake
Serves 16
1 cup flour
¾ cups buckwheat flour
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup natural cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup strong, brewed espresso
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup unsweetened prune puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon brewed espresso
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup peanut butter
skim milk to thin (if necessary)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13” pan.
  2. Sift together flours, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and cornstarch.
  3. Separately, beat together peanut butter, espresso, buttermilk, olive oil, prune puree and vanilla until completely blended.
  4. Stir in dry ingredients until fully incorporated.
  5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until cake tests done.
  6. In a small bowl, mix 1 tsp espresso, brown sugar and peanut butter.
  7. Add milk if necessary to achieve desired spreading consistency.
  8. Smooth over cooled cake and refrigerate.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 258.6
Total Fat: 11.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.6 mg
Sodium: 90.7 mg
Total Carbs: 37.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.8 g
Protein: 5.7 g


  1. This sounds like the most intriguing combination of ingredients! I've bookmarked it and can't wait to try it. And lucky you--George Brown! I loved the few courses I took there a few years ago.

  2. this cake is amazing i had 2 slices... my dad domlished 2 slices he said " so amazing so suprizing the flavours.. sarah is amazing


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