Sunday, November 20, 2011

Finally Friends

I have known Benny since freshman year at Wes.  We have several mutual friends, and I've met him on several occasions.  I always thought he was a really wonderful person, it's just too bad he could never remember who I was.

Well, when my friend, Annie, and I ventured off to Amsterdam, she asked if it would be OK if we met up with Benny and his friends, who were coincidentally visiting the city at the same time from their various study abroad adventures.  Maybe it was the fact that we met (again) on another continent, or maybe it was because we met in an amazing pancake house, but Benny finally remembered me.  He recognized me on campus last semester, and now, this semester, we are not only in the same class, but are partners for a research project.  Benny is always a very positive guy, and whenever I'm upset, I know that our project meetings will cheer me up.  I decided to make him a birthday cake to celebrate the fact that we are finally friends, and to thank him for all the smiles he's brought me this semester.  I decided to make the cake with flavors that honor the place we finally met, a random pancake house in Amsterdam.

The pancake house where it all began.  Here is Benny, ready to drink the maple syrup.

Cinnamon Butter Cake w/ Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Pecans
Recipe adapted from here

Cake Ingredients
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used soy)
2 tsps vanilla
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsps baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3 tsps cinnamon (it was very cinnamony, you may want to use 2)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 16 pieces

Mix together milk, eggs and vanilla.  Set aside.
Whisk together dry ingredients.
Cut up butter into small pieces.
Mix in butter, one piece at a time, to the dry ingredients until the mixture is a uniform texture.
Add 1/2 the liquid mixture on low, beat until fluffy, increase speed to medium and add the rest of the liquid.
Grease and flour 2 9" cake pans
The batter will be thick and airy, so you may have to spread it evenly in the pan.
Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.  Cool in pans on wire racks for 20 minutes, then remove cakes and continue cooling on racks.  When completely cool, shave off parts of the cakes that are uneven.

It is best to use a long, serrated bread knife to level the cakes.
I stupidly burnt my hand on a stove burner when it was time to frost and decorate the cake, so I had to finish it while clutching a bag of frozen cranberries.  You'll have to excuse the look of the cake and the photos from here on out.  I am definitely NOT ambidextrous. 

Frosting Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
4 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
3 cups confectioners' sugar
2 Tbs good quality maple syrup

To make the frosting, beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy.  Slowly add the confectioners' sugar and then the maple syrup.  Beat on high until the frosting is voluminous and fluffy.

Decorations/Cake Assembly
1/2 cup pecans
2 Tbs maple syrup

Finely chop pecans
Spread a fine layer of frosting on one layer of the cake, sprinkle with pecans and drizzle a small amount of maple syrup.
Quickly invert the other cake layer so that it soaks up the maple syrup.
Frost evenly, decorate with pecans and remaining Tbs of maple syrup.  Refrigerate until serving.

Happy Belated, Birthday, Benny!  Thanks for finally remembering me!

Love and cookies,

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