Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sarah's Sangria Cake

Ok, so I've done a lot of baking over the years, and have come up with some pretty amazing creations.  But this cake, by far, surpasses anything else I have ever made or conceptualized.  It was DELICIOUS, moist, light, and one of the coolest ideas I've had in my life.  So how did I come up with this genius idea, you may ask?

Well, we must first start with the reason I made the cake in the first place.  Fate would have it that I would not end up staying abroad for a full year last year, throwing my housing at Wes upon return to chance.  As luck would have it, I sent out a Facebook message pleading all of my friends if they knew someone that was looking for a roommate.  My friend, Sarah Q, told me that her friend, Johnny was looking for someone, and gave him my email.  Johnny worked for ResLife, and put a plan into action for me to live with him and two of his friends (who were both also returning from abroad) even though I had never met any of them.  Now, this situation could have gone horribly, horribly wrong, but it didn't.  I came out of that semester with three of the most wonderful new friends anyone could ask for.  We all bonded in our special ways, Johnny and I with our obsessive cleaning, Julia and I with our boy gossip, and Sarah and I with our foodie-ness (she is from NYC, so it is in her blood).

Last year, I made Sarah a really awesome Black Magic Cake befitting of even the snobbiest foodie.  I knew that this year it would be tough to top it, but I had to try.  It's getting to the point in the semester where I don't have a lot of points yet, so I have to choose my ingredients carefully.  I opened the cupboards and found a bottle of merlot, and was immediately inspire.  Sarah was going to be missing the Tour de Franzia for a family affair at home, so I thought that a birthday cake was an appropriate way of getting her wine.  I didn't want to make any more frosting, so I decided that I would decorate it similarly to Stacy's cake and use whipped cream.  When I thought of what I could possibly put on top of the whipped cream, I decided on fruit, and then decided that the fruit in combination with the wine would make a sangria cake, and the most amazing cake idea was born.

Sarah's Sangria Cake
Chocolate Merlot cake, brushed with Merlot, filled and topped with fruit-infused whipped cream, garnished with wine-soaked fruit
Basic cake recipe adapted from Epicurious

Cake Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsps baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, (softened)
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups merlot

I recommend making this cake the day before you want to serve it.  Take the first day to bake the cake itself, and then refrigerate or freeze it until you are ready to assemble it.  You will also want to cut and soak your fruit overnight.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Set aside
Cream together butter and sugar
Add eggs one at a time and then the vanilla, beating for 2-3 minutes until smooth
Add in the flour and wine, alternating between the 2 in three parts
Cut out parchment paper to fit two 8" cake pans and grease the sides
Divide batter evenly between pans.  It will be thick
Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pans on wire racks for 15-20 minutes, then run a thin knife around the edges and invert the pans, allowing the cakes to finish cooling completely on wire racks.  If you are not assembling the cake right away, stick each round into it's own gallon freezer bag, seal tightly, and store in the refrigerator or freezer.  If placing it in the freezer, make sure you take it out at least an hour before you begin assembly so it can thaw.

Fruit and Cream Preparation
1 firm green pear
1 firm gala apple
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups merlot (or other red wine)

Chop the fruit into small pieces (sharp angles look nicer)
Place half the fruit in a bowl with the cream, and the other half in a bowl with the wine.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, stirring once in the morning.
An hour before you assemble the cake, scoop out the fruit from both bowls, saving both the liquids and the fruit.  Allow wine-soaked fruit to drain in a strainer.  The cream-soaked fruit can be eaten or discarded.  The cream should be recovered and returned to the freezer, and the wine should be reserved for brushing on the cake later.

Cut one of the cakes so that it is even and flat
Whip the cream until just before stiff peaks form.  If you beat it too long, you will end up with lumpy butter
Using a pastry brush, generously coat the top of the cut cake with the wine the fruit was in
Carefully spread the whipped cream and add the wine-soaked fruit. (The cream-soaked fruit is pictured here- I used it because I feared the cake would taste too strongly of wine, but after the final taste test I decided the wine fruit would be better)
The finished product
Inside- moist, flavorful, beautiful
Happy Birthday, Sarah!  I hope you were surprised and had a great time, even though you were super tired!  We love you!

Love and cookies,

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