Demented Ramblings life is too short to refrain from eating jam out of the jar


Fun with Cake!

I don't have the patience for lovely staging of food photos for my blog. I tend to just snap a quick shop before digging in. The flash always winds up washing everything out until it all looks white. Believe me, though, when I tell you that this cake tastes amazing and actually looks fairly pretty.

A few weeks ago, I heard something on TV about "Derby Cake". I've heard of Derby Pie (chocolate chip pecan pie) but never Derby Cake. So, I went to my old pal Google for the answer. Derby Cake was just created last year by Mert's Cakes in Louisville to be the official cake of the Kentucky Derby. It's described as "an amazing fusion of moist butter praline cake, dark chocolate and fine Kentucky bourbon." As we all know, I prefer attempting these things myself as opposed to just purchasing them. Especially when the price is $40. For a cake? Is it going to do tricks for me? Clean the house?

I was thinking of making this cake for my derby party on saturday, but I wanted to do a test run first. I hate to serve something without ever having tasted it. I've also been thinking of experimenting with a bananas foster cake. A test cake doesn't have to be a full sized cake, it can be just one layer. The flavor is all I really want anyway.

So, I started with a boxed cake mix since I was feeling kind of lazy about it. Just your standard run of the mill Duncan Hines yellow cake mix. I mixed it up per the package directions except that I left out 1/4 of the water. Then I split the batter into two bowls.

To the first bowl, I added enough dark rum to make up for the lessened water. Stirred it all up and baked it according to the directions. This will be my bananas foster cake, but for tonight was set aside after baking.

To the second bowl, I added enough bourbon to make up for the reduced water. Mixed and baked. Once it cooled, I evened it up and put it on a platter. I toasted some pecan halves while starting the frosting, then placed the halves on the top of the cake, trying to spread them out evenly.

For the frosting, I put 1 cup of brown sugar, 2 tbsp salted butter, and 1/4 cup of milk in a pan and cooked it over fairly high heat until it started boiling. Then I reduced the heat and let it come up to 236 degrees (soft ball stage). I removed it from the heat, added a bit of vanilla and stirred until it started to thicken. I spread/poured this over the single layer of cake and pecans. Then, I melted some dark chocolate and drizzled it around on top.

The bourbon taste, which seemed very minimal in the bite of just cake that I tasted (from evening it off) seemed to step up quite a bit with the addition of the frosting.

Notes for next time:

  • Don't let dad bully me into using the cheapass bourbon again. I'm 90% sure a better bourbon would make for a better cake.
  • 1/4 of the liquid is plenty of bourbon
  • Maybe try cooking the frosting slightly less next time so that it doesn't get as hard when it cools. Of course, it was the consistency of a praline and that's what I was after, so maybe not.
  • The cake didn't rise very well, maybe due to the fact that we've had those cake mixes for probably 5 years. Pop likes to catch things on sale and stock up to a stupid level. Buy a fresh mix for next time or make a cake from scratch.
  • Watch the pecans closer so that they don't burn when toasting! But they didn't burn so badly that they tasted burned, so I used them anyway.

Here's a horrid picture for you...

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