Wednesday, June 2, 2010

United Cakes of America

In his first cookbook, CakeLove (STC, Spring 2008), Warren Brown wowed us with his amazing recipes for the pound cakes, butter cakes, sponge cakes, cupcakes, frostings, fillings, and meringues he serves at CakeLove—his popular D.C. bakery. Now, six bakeries later, this lawyer-turned-baker is back with UNITED CAKES OF AMERICA: RECIPES CELEBRATING EVERY STATE (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; May 2010; $29.95 U.S. / $38.95 CAN; ISBN: 978-1-58479-839-2).

Loving cakes is a natural part of Brown’s constitution. Now, in order to form a more perfect union of flour, eggs, butter, and sugar, he’s offering his unique take on classic dessert recipes from all fifty states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. Starting with Whoopie Pies for Maine, Brown tours the whole country, updating regional confections like King Cake (Louisiana), Lady Baltimore Cake (South Carolina), Mud Cake (Mississippi), and Key Lime Pie (Florida).

UNITED CAKES OF AMERICA includes official state desserts (Maryland’s Smith Island Cake; Massachusetts’s Boston Cream Pie) and unofficial favorites (New York–Style Cheesecake; St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake), as well as an ovenful of brand-new baked treats that Brown has created to honor specific states’ agricultural bounty (Avocado Cupcakes for California; Huckleberry Cake for Idaho). Informative sidebars and fun facts add local color, and plenty of mix-and-match frosting and glaze ideas complete the mix.

About the author:
Warren Brown has been featured on major media outlets such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, the Today show, and Fox News and profiled in People magazine, Forbes, Reader’s Digest, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, and other publications. He starred in twenty-six episodes of Sugar Rush on the Food Network in 2006, and is the author of CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch (STC, 2008). He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife.

UNITED CAKES OF AMERICA: Recipes Celebrating Every State
By Warren Brown
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
ISBN: 978-1-58479-839-2
May 2010
$29.95 U.S. / $38.95 CAN
224 pages / 50 color photographs; more than 50 recipes / 9 x 10"

Nutmeg Spice Cupcakes (or Hartford Election Cake Updated)
Yield: One 9-inch layer cake or 24 cupcakes

Dry ingredients:
8 ounces (1 cup) superfine granulated sugar
5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon potato starch
1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
Pinch of allspice
Pinch of salt
1⁄8 teaspoon baking soda
Wet ingredients:
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) butter, melted
¼ cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon rum
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and place the rack in the middle position. Lightly coat a cupcake tray with nonstick oil-and-starch spray and line 10 of the cups with paper liners.
2. Measure and combine all the dry ingredients in a deep bowl. Whisk lightly for about 15 seconds to blend.
3. Combine all the wet ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid and shake well for 15 seconds.
4. Lightly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. This should take about 15 seconds.
5. Scoop or pour 2 ounces of batter into the paper-lined cups. (Using a food scooper or ladle works best.)
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes are golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center of one comes out clean or with just a few crumbs.
7. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes before removing them from the tray. When they are room temperature, frost or decorate them with Old-Fashioned Milk Buttercream (recipe below).

Old-Fashioned Milk Buttercream
Yield: Enough for one 9-inch layer cake or 24 cupcakes
1 cup milk
2 ounces (¼ cup) all-purpose flour
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
8 ounces (1 cup) superfine granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Quickly whisk together 4 tablespoons of the milk with the flour. This slurry will be somewhat thick, so whisk thoroughly to make it smooth. Press out any lumps with a flexible spatula, if necessary.
2. Whisk in the rest of the milk and transfer the mixture to a 2-quart heavy-bottom saucepan. Bring to a simmer for about 30 seconds over medium heat, whisking the whole time.
3. Remove the pan from the stove and place plastic wrap directly against the milk’s surface. (This is the best method to prevent a skin from forming.) Cool to room temperature.
4. Combine the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix at medium to high speed for 5 minutes.
5. Pour the cooled milk-and-flour mixture into the bowl and beat for another 5 minutes, or longer, as needed to achieve a spreadable consistency.

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