Sunday, November 7, 2010

IHCC: Halloween Spice Cake

This week's theme over at I Heart Cooking Clubs was "Out of Italy." This means that we were to find a Giada recipe that did not come from Italy. Not an easy feat, given that Ms. De Lauretiss has been dubbed "The Italian Princess" (Wolfgang Puck called her this on The Next Food Network Star this past season). Everything that was overtly from "somewhere else" just didn't appeal to me this week.

So, for my weekly recipe, we left Italy and, well, stayed here. "Here" meaning the US. I made the Halloween Spice Cake, on the assumption that Halloween as we know it is a very American holiday. Of course, upon making the bread, er, I mean, cake, I thought it wasn't nearly as appropriate for Halloween as for the winter holiday season. Oh well. The interpretation of the theme is loose, okay?

Now, on to the details about the cake. It is easy to prepare. Your typical mix the dry, mix the wet in another bowl, add the dry to the wet, and bake. The problems arose in getting the cake to set. I had read about other folks having the same problem in the reviews of the recipe and scoffed to myself, "Food Network website users--they're probably novice bakers, who don't use oven thermometers, and therefore have no idea that their ovens are running cold." Nope. Not the Food Network website users who have the problem. I think Giada needs to check the temp in HER oven. 40 to 45 minutes? No way. More like 50 to 60.

That said, I baked my cake for 55 minutes, and the middle was still a little squidgy when it was cooled and set up. Blame it on the fact that I was drinking a rather strong Dark & Stormy while it baked. Or just impatience. Or both. But, in the end, it worked out. The squidgy parts are the best now that it has cooled.

The taste of this cake is definitely very spicy. At first bite, I thought, "Wow. This is very strong, and I'm not sure it's all that good." But then I took another bite, and another. And realized that this cake is highly addictive. I think it's the influence of all that ginger. There's an afterburn on your tongue that lingers, and makes you want more. So, I went from the first bite, thinking that this recipe would get a 3 on my 1 to 5 scale (which, in my household means "it was fine, but with so many recipes in the house, why make it again?"), to last bite, thinking that this recipe would get a 4 ("very, very good, and will be made again."). But, a funny thing happens with this cake. I ate a piece for breakfast about two hours ago, and I'm craving another piece now. Really craving it. Talking myself out of it only by reminding myself that I lost two pounds over the last week, and I don't want one spice cake to undo that in one day. Which means that this recipe will probably join my pantheon of quick breads that I take everywhere (the other two, so far, are my Zucchini Bran Bread and a Pumpkin Bread from Wilson Farm--both of which I should probably post about some day). Talk about a sleeper recipe! I never would have expected that at first bite.

So, that's three recipes from Giada that I have made and really enjoyed. Who would have thought? I suppose I'll continue with this group. Maybe she's growing on me after all.

Halloween Spice Cake
Butter, for the pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (I bought little individual cups so I wouldn't have to open a whole jar)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.

In a large bowl, beat the sugars, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla extract to blend. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cake for 10 minutes. Unmold the cake and place on a wire rack to cool completely.


Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Mmm, I love ginger! I have terrible luck with quickbreads and timing - for that reason I always make them as minis or muffins. It's the only way I can guarantee they will turn out!

Bridgett said...

I'm at the point where I can take or leave Giada but most of her recipes turn out pretty well, so I can't complain. The ingredients in this cake sound really yummy. Now, how was the dark and stormy? lol

Yvette said...

I agree that This cake is perfect for the holiday season, allthat spice is so lovely.
I made this cake two weeks ago for my addition on IHCC, and did bake mine also about 55 minutes(The original 40 minutes whas to short)

girlichef said...

Nooooo! Don't say she's growing on yu ;) LOL! This cake does sound delicious, all of the autumny flavors :Dmo

Anne said...

I love the spices in this, it sounds amazing and flavorful! I hadn't heard Giada called the Italian Princess before, that's too funny! She does have great recipes but I can't help but wonder if she actually eats any of them, she's so tiny!