Thursday, March 15, 2012

Last Weekend

 Last weekend I had a cake party. More appropriately and in German, I invited some friends over for "Cafe und Kuchen." Cafe und Kuchen is a German thing in my mind and I associate it with Omas (grandmas). It's essentially eating cake and drinking coffee in the afternoon, so I have no complaints about the concept but I think the Oma association comes from the fact that they are the ones who have time for such a thing. To be fair, it is mostly a Sunday afternoon thing for most. Anyway, enough rambling I am no expert, I just like cake...and coffee...and friends. So, I decided to organize a cake party of my own. P was here for the weekend and kindly drove me to a supermarket where we bought lots of ingredients for an afternoon of baking.

I planned to bake 5 cakes in all, 4 using authentic recipes from German Omas and one following a recipe from the internet, Guinness chocolate cake as a nod to the upcoming St. Patrick's Day that Germans do not celebrate. Last summer, for my birthday, my wish list included baking items and family cake recipes and my colleagues really came through. However, this was the first time I was getting around to actually trying to bake these cakes. Unlike the internet, family recipes tend to have less instruction and leave more room for interpretation which was pretty intimidating for me. Also, each cake called for 4 eggs so 30 eggs, 1.5 kg of flower, 300g nuts, Guinness, cream, and lots of sugar later I had everything I needed to spend the day baking. And then this happened...

Luckily that had nothing to do with my baking. I dropped a flower pot that had been holding spare change while moving something in the kitchen. The kitchen which I had so thoroughly vacuumed just hours before. You can also see we have replaced the industrial strength wet/dry vac with a Dyson which is A-mazing. Minor set back but moving on to cakes...

I found the inspiration for this Chocolate Guinness cake online and it did not disappoint. It was rich and moist and even though I made mine in a different pan than suggested, I did not have a problem getting the intended results. I didn't get leftovers either as P took the rest to his office. I will make this again even if it is not near St. Patrick's day.

This is a Fanta cake, make with Fanta orange soda. It kind of looks like a volcano so I just went with it when adding the glaze and let it pool at the base. The cake and glaze both have a slight hit of orange but more in the way that it tastes fresh than in an overwhelming this is an orange flavored cake. It is also very moist and tastes like a classic birthday cake. We got to enjoy the leftovers for breakfast at our department meeting Monday morning.  The only part I would change is the frosting. I think an orange butter cream using either a fresh orange or orange buttermilk would be better than the glaze. I would also try this as a cupcake.

The apple cake and whipped cream. I cannot take credit for this as I was too lazy to peel apples so this only made it onto the menu when P volunteered to do the peel removal. This is a German classic. Unlike an apple pie, this is actually half cake topped with the fruit of 6 apples. It was moist and delicious and there were sadly no leftovers. This was the winner for best cake best on the basis of the small piece of the cake chart remaining (my guests were mostly researchers, and the German term for a pie chart is cake chart, you really have to turn your nerd on for that one).

The last cake is not exactly a cake and I have no idea what to call them in English. I made the dough on Saturday, balled it up and refrigerated overnight. On Sunday I rolled it out and made the egg white and nut filling then cut, filled and rolled like mini croissants before popping them in the oven to bake. I had lots of filling leftover so I tried to make some meringue cookies in my whoopie pie pan which turned out to be an epically delicious fail that got washed down the sink because I didn't grease the pan first. The actual dessert was delicious and approved by the recipe owner.

In addition to baking, I had fun setting up the party. As I mentioned the idea of a cake party makes me thing of grandmas, I went with a bit of a vintage theme. I was super excited to buy an antique tea pot and some matching dishes (top left corner of below photos) for the occasion. P thought they were redic but I love them. I also picked up a lace doily and deconstructed the lace to decorate my jar collection. I think I will write that up in its own post for the current Pinterest Challenge since I got my inspiration for that from the internet.

The final cake I do not have a solo shot of is in the bottom left of the above photo and it was delicious. It is lovingly referred to as Oma Kuchen. It's a dense cake with raisins and chocolate bits. I love it for breakfast and it pairs so well with black coffee. I will be making this again for sure, it is also on my mental list to bake for Christmas in RI. I think nuts would be a great addition and cranberries could substitute nicely for raisins.

All in all, there were zero cake fails which makes me so so happy. We also successfully entertained 15 people in the living room and everyone had a place to sit. This Kuchen party did not turn into a Küche party! 

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