Birthday Faves

Here’s a cake recipe perfect for October birthdays.

by Jean Hecker

Baking a cake for everyone’s birthday is something I love to do, especially for those at work. When I worked at Holly City Travel in Millville years ago, I made all kinds of cakes. Terri loved the simple pound cake, Linda always asked for the “Jamaican Mystery Cake, Doris couldn’t wait for the “Milky Way Cake,” Anne loved the intricacies of the White Chocolate Layer Cake, and Ingrid always requested the German Chocolate Cake. Here at Magic Carpet Travels, Nina loves the Italian Rum Cake and Connie is new and for her, I think it will be the Pumpkin Cheesecake since her birthday is close to Thanksgiving.

October is my birthday month and my favorite birthday cake is, well, any kind of cake. I love them all! Sometimes my sister Linda surprises me with a white cake with orange icing from Century Bakery in Bridgeton or a Coconut Layer Cake from Crust n’ Krumbs Bakery across the street from work in Vineland. This year I told her that I wanted to make my own cake and I came across this recipe in Food and Wine and it looks just luscious!

Porter Bundt Cake with Whiskey-Caramel Sauce

1 1/2 cups porter
1 cup unsulfured molasses
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup cocoa nibs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs

SAUCE:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whiskey

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large saucepan, whisk 1 cup of the porter with the molasses and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the baking soda and let cool completely.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the maple syrup with the remaining 1/2 cup of porter and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half and syrupy, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, butter a 10-inch Bundt pan and dust with flour; shake off the excess. In a large bowl, whisk the 3 cups of flour with the baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cocoa nibs. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the 1/2 sticks of butter with the brown and granulated sugars at medium speed until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until just incorporated. At low speed, beat in the cooled porter-molasses mixture, then gradually beat in the dry ingredients.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake in the center of the oven for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes. Invert the warm cake onto a rack and brush with the cooled porter-syrup mixture.

Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and bring to a boil. Cook over moderately high heat, without stirring, until an amber caramel forms. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream and whiskey. Cook over low heat for 1 minute. Let cool slightly.

Cut the cake into wedges and serve, passing the warm whiskey caramel at the table. n

Jean Hecker is a full-time travel agent at Magic Carpet Travels and a part-time foodie. She has a BA in Home Economics Education from Rowan University and enjoys exploring all facets of the food and restaurant industry.

Food for Thought