Monday, June 6, 2011

Stop 20: Wisconsin Brown Sugar, Cranberry, and Pecan Cake

I did a Sarah-style triathalon today.  This means I rode my biked 4 miles and walked 1 1/2 miles and came home and passed out on the couch.  The passing out on the couch is the third activity in the tri.  As I as passed out on the couch, I realized that I was going to a birthday party tonight and hadn't made a cake.  Then I thought something along the lines of, "woe is me," (back of hand to forehead), "it is far too late now for me to make a cake that would be ready tonight.  Alas..."  Then I looked at the clock and realized it was only noon, got over myself and went to Whole Foods.  I had to go to Whole Foods because for this recipe I needed muscovado sugar and maple sugar.  Interestingly, in my house right now, I have muscovado sugar, turbinado sugar, maple sugar, and dark brown sugar.  No white sugar.

Anyway, my friend whose birthday it is is from Wisconsin, so I decided to make the Wisconsin cake  (seems logical, yes?).  The Wisconsin cake is this brown sugar, cranberry, pecan thing.  Brown decided on this cake because cranberries are the state fruit of Wisconsin and they celebrate them in a festival every September in a place called Warrens, Wisconsin.  I have no idea if this is near where Molly is from, but it's okay.  It turns out that Wisconsin produces the most cranberries of any state in the country.  As a girl from Massachusetts, this hurt a little to discover.

Brown says he likes to pair dried cranberries with muscovado sugar, which he, of course, just has around the house.  Muscovado sugar is a kind of unrefined brown sugar.  It is also known as  "Barbados sugar" or "moist sugar," though, that is from Wikipedia, so take it as you will.  This recipe also called for maple sugar.  Maple sugar is what is left at the end of the maple syrup-making process.  It is also what we commonly leave out of the maple sugar sweet potatoes every Thanksgiving because it is really, really expensive.  Well, now we have it.  And at $10/lb, we'd darn well better use it every Thanksgiving from here on out.  

The recipe is cooked in a bundt and calls for a rum-confectioners' sugar glaze. There is also rum in the cake.  I used Captain Morgan's since I seem to have acquired a handle of it at some point and I don't drink it, so I will use it in recipes until it is gone.  You cook the dried cranberries in the rum for a little bit, I assume to plump them up and get them good and tanked, then mix them in with the rest of the wet ingredients.  Besides that, it's a pretty typical cake recipe.  Cream the creaming ingredients (where the white sugar and muscovado sugar go) and add the wet and dry ingredients (where the maple sugar went) alternately.  Then you bake it.  I am being a bit anal about the oven this time since it did the whole turn itself off three times thing in the middle of baking the Coca-cola cake (stupid oven).  

I also, and this part is embarrassing, but I'm putting it in anyway, left out the sour cream.  I'm not exactly sure what happened, but when I had finished the dishes and the cake was well into the baking process, I looked on the counter and saw the sour cream sitting there, all un-opened and innocent looking.  The cake came out fine, super rich and sweet and delicious.  It was a bit crumbly and I have a feeling the sour cream would have helped with that.  Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with 10oz of full-fat sour cream.

All in all, it was definitely a success.  I think it would be more of an autumn cake and it definitely had a coffee cake feel to it.  I think it would be perfect for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving.  If I had to choose between this one and the Delaware coffee cake, the Delaware cake would definitely win out, but this is a good one to have in the arsenal.

Here it is all naked and ready to be iced.  I think the discoloration comes from the oil spray, but I'm not 100% sure.

There is a layer of thinner icing underneath the thicker top layer because I had the proportions off a bit when I started.  I think it looked pretty nice by the time it was done.

And here's the birthday girl enjoying her half-eaten cake!

I have no next stop predictions right now.  I guess it will have to be a surprise...


  1. Sorry about them cranberries! Averaged over land area, I suspect MA would retake the lead.

    Lots of sour cream dessert options, by the by. Pudding cake or pie, just to name two...

  2. Woah - you invested in TWO sugars for this cake? That really is a present!