Southern Cakes @ Whole Foods

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This past Saturday we attended the Southern Cakes Class @ Whole Foods Charlotte with Chef John Auman. He is a guest instructor @ Salud Cooking School and has been working as a pastry chef for more than twenty years.  He trained under Karl Smerenick who owns A Taste of Tyrol in San Raphael, California.

Our Menu...
Our Menu…

Now some interesting facts we learned from Chef John.

  • Baking is a science, you have to be exact
  • The Core of your recipe has to be the same, the extras (i.e. pine nuts) can be switched up.
  • The more gluten you have the stronger (denser) the dough will be. You don’t want to over mix and create gluten in your cakes.
  • Cake flour – all purpose flour refined with cornstarch.
  • Self-rising flour – has salt & baking soda
  • You can freeze cakes for up to 6 months.

Note: The Pineapple Upside-Down Cake & Coconut Cake are Chef Johns Recipes, Red Velvet Cake & Hummingbird Cake are not. The Hummingbird is from 1953 Southern Living Magazine.

Suggested recipe to look up: Martha Stewart One Bowl Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

We wouldn’t be baking the red velvet or coconuts ourselves that day. The red velvet cake was in the fridge (waiting for icing that the other team would create) and the chef mixed up the coconut cake.

First a few more things to know…

  • Everything blends better @ room temperature
  • Always start and end with dry
  • Don’t open oven to check all heat will go out of the oven and you’ve just increased your baking time by 10 minutes.
  • Once your timer goes off, test for spring by tapping the top of cake. Do not remove from the oven.
  • Convection oven (use shortest time) Non-convection (longer time)
Scraping the paddle.
Scraping the paddle.
Batter all mixed up.
Batter all mixed up.

Coconut Cake 

For the cake

  • 16 tbsp unsalted butter, softened, plus morse for pans
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pans, sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs (only add one egg at a time to fully incorporate… Don’t crack while mixing. You don’t want a shell in there.)

For the frosting:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup fresh coconut water (Harmless Harvest)
  • 3 cups grated coconut

For the coconut syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut water (Harmless Harvest)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans and set aside.

For the cake: Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Whisk together buttermilk and vanilla in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. One low speed, alternately add dry ingredients in 3 batches and wet ingredients in 2 batches. Increase speed to high, and beat until batter is smooth, about 5 seconds. Divide batter between prepared pans, and smooth top with rubber spatula; drop pans lightly on a counter to expel large air bubbles. Bake cakes until a toothpick insert in middle comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pans; invert onto wire racks, and let cool. using a serrated knife, half each cake horizontally, producing four layers; set aside.

Make coconut syrup: Combine the sugar, water and coconut water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely, about 20 minutes.

Make the frosting: Place egg white and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, and beat on medium high speed until soft peaks form’ turn mixer off. Bring sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup tap water to a boil in a 2 qy. saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar; attach a candy thermometer to side of pan, and cook without stirring, until thermometer reads 250 degrees, 4-5 minutes. Turn mixer to medium speed, and very slowly drizzle hot syrup into beating egg whites. Add vanilla, and increase speed to high; beat until meringue form stiff peaks and is slightly warm to the touch, about 3 minutes.

To assemble, place on layer on cake stand, drizzle with 3 tbsp. coconut syrup, spread with 1 1/2 cups frosting, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated coconut. Repeat with additional layers of cake, syrup, frosting and grated coconut. Cover top and sides with remaining frosting, and cover outside of cake with remaining coconut, pressing it lightly to adhere; chill cake to firm frosting.

Note: If you use the whisk attachment you won’t incorporate your sugar correctly. It’s all about breaking down and blending.

Finished Coconut
Finished Coconut

Now for our ingredients of the day…

We divided up into two groups of four and went to our section of the ‘island.’ We would start with the Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

For the topping:

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  •  1 can (20 ounce) of pineapple slices

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp. cake flour
  • 6 tbsp. ground almonds
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine brown sugar and butter and melt in a saucepan on medium heat until sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbly, this should take several minutes. (After sugar melts, don’t stir!) Pour mixture into a 10 inch diameter non-stick cake pan with 2 inch high sides. Arrange pineapple slices in a single layer on top of caramel mixture.

Whisk the flours, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the sugar and butter together until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream in 2 additions each, beating well after each addition. Pour cake batter over caramel and pineapple in pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30-45 minutes. Cool cake in pan or a rack for 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Our beautiful creation.
Our beautiful creation.

Now it was time to get our hands dirty. Why you ask? The ingredients for the Hummingbird Cake have to mixed by hand.

Hummingbird Cake

For the cake:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups chopped bananas

For the frosting:

  • 13 1/2 ounces powdered sugar
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.

Pour batter into three greased and floured 9″ round cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Combine cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer on medium speed, until just blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add vanilla and salt and mix until combined. With speed on low, add powdered sugar beating until smooth between each addition. Refrigerate 5-10 minutes before using.

Spread frosting between layers, top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top. Store in refrigerator.

Slice of Hummingbird Cake
Slice of Hummingbird Cake

We took a break for some lunch before we finished up the last of the frosting of the cakes…

Now Chef John showed us how to cut the already prepared Red Velvet Cake… Make first slice with hand flat on top of cake, turn with fingers spread for stability.

Now it’s frosting time… for the coconut cake, we added apricot jam in between the layers to give a little extra flavor.

All our slices… We only took a bite of each… one b/c dairy is not my friend… and two that’s a whole lot of sugar.

Now I bet your wondering if you were ever going to see the Red Velvet Cake Recipe, right?

Red Velvet Cake

For the cake:

  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pans, sifted
  • 2 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp red food coloring
  • 1 tbsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs

For the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour two 8″ cake pans, and set aside. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in a bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, alternately add dry ingredients in 3 batches and wet ingredients in 2 batches. Increase speed to high and beat until batter is smooth, about 5 seconds. Divide batter between prepared pans, and smooth top with a rubber spatula; drop pans lightly on a counter to expel any large air bubbles. Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pans; invert onto wire racks, and let cool.

Whisk together sugar and flour in a 4qt saucepan; add milk and whisk until smooth. Stirring often, bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook, stirring constantly, until very thick, about 5 minutes. Remove pudding from heat and cool. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and 1/4 of the pudding on medium-high speed until fluffy and smooth, about 1 minute. Add half of the remaining pudding, beating until smooth, and then add remaining pudding and vanilla. Increase speed to high and beat frosting until white and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

To assemble, place one cake on a cake stand, and spread with 1 1/2 cups frosting. Place second cake over frosting; cover top and sides with remaining frosting; chill to firm frosting. Serve at room temperature.

Chef John Auman was an amazing teacher. He had us laughing, he helped and answered questions when we need him to making the class both enjoyable and fun!

~thefoodie

 

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