Cakes to celebrate America

Celebrate July Fourth by devouring some delicious cakes from all 50 states. Chef Warren Brown shares four recipes from his book, “United Cakes of America,” from Illinois, Wyoming, Texas and Delaware.

Coffee cake

Ingredients

  • Filling

    • Light brown sugar, soft
    • 1/4 cup superfine granulated sugar
    • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves .
    • Salt pinch
    • Ginger (optional) pinch
    • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • Topping

    • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, soft (not packed)
    • 1/4 cup superfine granulated sugar 2 ounces
    • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    • Salt pinch
    • Ginger (optional) pinch
    • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
    • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Cake

    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup milk
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Creaming

    • 1 stick unsalted butter, soft
    • 1 1/2 cups superfine granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cups light brown sugar, soft (not packed)
    • 3 eggs

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 335 degrees and place the rack in the middle position. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick oil-and-starch spray.2. Combine the ingredients for the filling in a bowl. Crumble them together with your fingers to break apart any clumps of brown sugar. Set aside.3. Combine the ingredients for the topping in a bowl and press to combine with a fork or your fingers, or mix on low speed using a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Set aside.4. Combine the dry ingredients for the cake in a bowl; combine the wet ingredients in another bowl. Set aside.5. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar and mix on low speed for about 3 minutes.6. Once the butter is creamed well, add the eggs one at a time. Use a flexible spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and mix until everything is thoroughly combined.7. Alternately add the dry and wet mixtures about a quarter at a time without pausing between additions. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix on low for another 20 seconds.8. Scoop half of the batter into the prepared pan, smooth it out, and sprinkle on the filling. Add the rest of the batter and smooth again. Sprinkle on the topping.9. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the cake bounces back when lightly pressed and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.10. Cool the cake for 5 minutes before inverting it onto a plate and flipping it again so the streusel side is facing up. It’s also fine to serve it in the dish it’s baked in.11. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tips:

One 9-by-13 inch sheet cake

Devil's Food Cake

Ingredients

    • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (100% cocoa)
    • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cocoa)
    • 1 stick and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
    • 1/2 cup half-and-half
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 8 ounces
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 6 eggs
    • 1 1/4 cups superfine granulated sugar, divided 10 ounces
    • 1/4 cups water

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 335 degrees and place the rack in the middle position. Line the bottoms of two 9-by-2-inch round pans with parchment.2. Melt the chocolates, 1 ounce of the butter, and the half-and-half in a double boiler over steaming water. Once melted, remove the pot from the water and whisk to combine the ingredients. Set aside.3. Measure the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside. Separate the eggs and set the yolks aside.4. Combine 6 ounces of the sugar and the water in a saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves.5. Place 4 of the egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. (Discard the 2 leftover whites or reserve them for another use.)When the sugar syrup measures 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, drizzle it slowly into the meringue while the mixer is on high speed. Whip for another 20 seconds and then remove the meringue from the bowl and set aside.6. Add the reserved yolks and 2 ounces of sugar to the mixer’s bowl and whip with the wire whip—there’s no need to clean the bowl or whip. You can even leave the cooked meringue that’s stuck inside the whip. Whip on high speed until the yolks are pale yellow, about 2 minutes.7. Reduce the speed to low and add in the remaining 4 ounces of butter. The yolk base will lose volume—that’s okay.8. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the melted chocolate to the mixer about a quarter at a time without pausing for the ingredients to combine. Detach the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the cooked meringue in two stages. It will be stiff at first. Use cautionnot to overmix it or you will deflate the batter.9. Divide the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean and the top appears dry, soft, and flat. It will give slightly to a very light touch.10. Cool the cakes for about 20 minutes, then run a metal offset spatula around the rim of each and invert the cakes onto a flat surface. Cool completely.11. To assemble the cake, slice each cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife to create four layers.12. Spread about 1 cup of frosting between each layer with an offset spatula and stack into a four-layer cake. Then pipe on the frosting with an open star tip to cover the top and sides of the cake, or just spread it lavishly with the spatula.

Tips:

One 9-inch layer cake

Texas Sheet Cake

Ingredients

    • 2 cups Superfine granulated sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup Cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon Baking soda
    • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
    • 2 sticks Unsalted butter, melted
    • 2 Eggs
    • 1 cup Milk
    • 1/2 cup Buttermilk
    • 1 tablespoon Brandy
    • 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
  • Chocolate Pecan Icing

    • 1 1/4 cups Pecans
    • 1 stick Unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 4 cups Confectioners’ sugar
    • 1/4 cup Cocoa powder
    • 1/2 cup Milk
    • 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
  • Sugared Pecans

    • 2 cups Pecans
    • 2 tablespoons Honey
    • 1 cup Superfine granulated sugar
    • 2 teaspoons Vanilla extract

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 335°F and place the rack in themiddle position. Grease a 12-by-2-inch round pan or9-by-13-inch baking dish.2. Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk tocombine.3. Combine the wet ingredients in a second bowl andwhisk lightly to combine.4. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients andstir well for about 20 seconds.5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes,or until a wooden skewer inserted in the centercomes out clean and the top of the cake bounces backslightly when gently pressed.6. For the icing, roast the pecans on a baking sheet for 4to 5 minutes while the cake is baking. Remove the nutsfrom the oven, cool to room temperature, and chop.7. Combine the butter, sugar, and cocoa powder in thebowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.Begin beating on low speed and then increase tohigh.8. Slowly add the milk and vanilla and beat well. Stopthe mixer and fold in the roasted pecans by hand. Setaside.9. To make the sugared pecans, combine the ingredientsin a bowl and mix well with a rubber spatula.10. Roast the sugared pecans on a baking sheet, whilethe cake is baking, until crisped and fragrant, approximately10 minutes. Remove the nuts from the oven andcool on a heat-resistant surface before using.11. Cool the cake completely before spreading the icingonto the top using a flexible spatula. (If you prefer, youcan turn the cake out onto a tray, but it’s fine to leaveit in the dish.) Add the sugared pecans across the top,pressing them slightly into the frosting.

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