This week's SMS was chosen by the fabulous Leslie of Lethally Delicious: roasted pecan cake with caramel orange marmalade and burnt orange buttercream. As you could probably gather from the title of my post and my photos, I strayed from the recipe
The first change I made was to scale the recipe way back and make cupcakes instead of a cake. The recipe called for 12 egg whites and I happened to have 3 in my fridge leftover from another baking project so I went with 1/4 of the recipe, winding up with 7 cupcakes. Second issue - the recipe involved toasting pecans and then grinding them to make a flour to incorporate into the cake batter. I really don't like nuts in most things, cake included, so I decided to skip the nuts entirely. I didn't figure I could ignore the nut flour completely though and unfortunately, the recipe didn't indicate how much flour would be yielded by grinding the nuts, so I estimated and added 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour to my batter as a substitute. The recipe has you combine the nut flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt and then add browned butter and vanilla before incorporating egg whites that have been beaten to stiff peaks. When I added the butter to my dry ingredients, the result was essentially a paste-like substance and I wasn't all that confident that my substitution was going to work. I wish the book had included more information at that point to indicate what the texture of the batter should be. I folded in the meringue the best I could, put the batter into the cupcake pan and hoped for the best!
To my surprise, 14-ish minutes later, the cupcakes had baked up nicely! I let them cool on a wire rack and then tried one. I figured no sense in frosting them if they weren't any good, right? I found that I really like the cupcake, though! I know it wasn't at all what was intended by the author, but it was still tasty. It had a nice, tight crumb but it was still light and very flavorful. I decided not to fill the cupcakes (early reports from the other SMS bakers indicated that the orange marmalade filling was overwhelming and much too sweet) and also took the easy way out on the frosting. I like buttercream but I LOVE whipped cream and it was quicker. I whipped about 1/3 cup of heavy cream until it thickened some, then added a little less than 2 teaspoons of sugar as well as 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed orange juice and some orange zest. I didn't measure the zest but would guess it was about 1/4 of the zest from 1 large orange. I whipped until stiff peaks formed and then piped onto my cupcakes, with just enough for all of them. I love the specks of orange zest in the whipped cream and it had just enough orange flavor to announce its presence without being overwhelming.
While I did enjoy these, they probably aren't something I'd make again. I would like to try the layer cake eventually though, when I have folks who like nuts that would be willing to eat it! Many thanks to Leslie for hosting this week! You can find the recipe on her blog as well as photos of the cake as it was meant to be baked :)