S’mores Bundt Cake

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Jordan: This was going to be a bourbon cake.

Kitra: And then this happened:

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And so somehow “let’s make a simple cake that we can take to work” turned into a ganache-laden marshmallow-filled graham cracker bundt cake.

But really it’s been building since about 2011:

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(That was from back in my Boston Cream Pie phase.)

We took the structure from this Twinkie bundt cake, from Smitten Kitchen, but having made the graham cracker cake from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook as an early Cake Day project and found it lacking, we turned to a Food52 recipe for the basis of the cake itself.

I’ve been pulling for a s’mores cake for the last month, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to pull Jordan out of her deep fruit rut.

It’s summer! There’s fruit! We can have cakes without fruit for the other three seasons.

See, this is what I’m talking about.

(Side note: Always refrigerate your fruit-based cakes if you live in a humid area. Otherwise they’ll get moldy and you’ll turn into a bitter anti-fruit crusader.)

(Side note to the side note: Fruit is dumb.)

Anyway. This cake was… an adventure.

And not just because we left to get a soft pretzel halfway through.

Soft pretzels are the opposite of adventurous, but okay. Point is, we made a lot of mistakes so that you don’t have to. Exhibit A: We started with a batch-and-a-half of the original recipe, realized it wasn’t going to be deep enough, and added another half batch on top like the cake version of the Washington Monument.

Overall, there’s nothing wrong with the way we did it, but this cake can be so much easier than we let it be. LEARN FROM US. Also, you should always use weights in baking but you should especially use them here because then you can measure things in grahams.

The instructions below are adjusted to be the way we should have made it, not the way we did, so you can trust them. Probably.

Although we made way more ganache than we needed (it’s cut in half here), and I’m not sure that was a mistake. Just eat that with a spoon, my friends.

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S’mores Bundt Cake

Adapted from Food52 and inspired by Smitten Kitchen

Notes

Don’t skip flouring the pan or you’ll end up cranky and with a very ugly cake. You could also probably coat it in butter and finely crushed graham cracker crumbs, which is a brilliant idea we had way too late.

We actually used 1⅜ cups of flour, but we don’t think the extra 2T will hurt it so have written it as 1½ cups to save you some effort.

If you want extra chocolate, you could stir a few handfuls of milk chocolate chips into the batter, after you’ve combined everything else.

Depending on how big you scoop the holes for your filling, you may need a bit more than one jar of fluff. We’d recommend buying extra just in case, because then you have an excuse to make fluff-n-nutter sandwiches with the leftovers. That said, don’t make the holes too giant unless you want to go into a fluff-induced sugar coma later.

If you’re ambitious, feel free to make your own marshmallow fluff. We’ve heard good things about this recipe from the Kitchn.

Cake

3c (325g) graham cracker crumbs, from 20-25 full sheets
1½c (180g) flour
2T baking powder
¾t salt
1c (2 sticks, 8oz) butter, softened
1½c (300g) sugar
4 eggs
2t vanilla
1½c milk

Preheat oven to 350° F and butter and flour a bundt pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla.

Mixing thoroughly between each addition, add one third of the the flour/graham cracker mixture, then half of the milk, then one third of the flour, then half the milk, then the remaining flour.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool at least 10-15 minutes before removing from pan and turning onto a wire rack. (Keep the bundt pan handy though, since you’ll need it later.) Let cool completely before moving onto filling and decorating.

Filling and Decoration

½ c heavy cream
1c (240g) milk chocolate chips
1 7-oz jar marshmallow fluff
A few spoonfuls of well-crushed graham crackers, plus more for decorating (optional)

Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan or medium microwave-safe bowl until hot but not bubbling. Add the chocolate chips and whisk until chocolate is fully melted and completely incorporated, reheating briefly if need be. Set in the fridge/freezer to cool; you want it to be thick enough to spoon over the cake, but not particularly runny.

Put the cake back into the bundt pan to hold it steady. Using a small cookie scoop, melon baller, or small spoon, scoop out holes of cake all around the ring. (We did 8 holes, lined up with the wider sections of the bundt shape.) Scoop out enough that it’ll hold marshmallow, but be careful not to get too close to the edges or bottom. Set the cake lumps aside to snack on while you impatiently wait for your ganache to cool.

Use a small spatula to fill a small Ziploc or piping bag with marshmallow fluff. Pipe fluff into each hole, filling to the top. Once all holes are filled, sprinkle a layer of graham cracker crumbs over each to keep the cake from sticking to the plate.

Put a plate or cake stand over top of the bundt and flip the cake right-side up. Once the ganache is cool, pour/scoop a thick layer over the top of the cake. (If your ganache is thin, it may sink into the cake, in which case put both the cake and the ganache in the freezer for 5-10 minutes and then do a second layer.) If you’d like a marshmallow drizzle, put a few scoops of fluff into a bowl and microwave for about 20 seconds. Scoop into a Ziploc or piping bag and cut a very small hole in the end, then pipe marshmallow over the top of the cake. Top with crushed graham crackers.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Chocolate Cake

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Kitra: There was a time in my youth(ish) where I lived in a place deep, deep within the archives of Better Homes and Gardens. I made their Rosemary Lemon Cupcakes at least once a month, and everything else I tried came from there. Enter this cake. It was always… Almost right. A dense chocolate cake that tasted barely healthy, with a truly inadequate dollop of blueberry infused Cool Whip. It’s been on my list of things to fix up for a while, so I brought the idea to Jordan.

Jordan: And I had zero opinions on it, but also zero opinions on anything else. The world runs on apathy. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So we made a cake! Apathy Cake! Or, Whole Wheat Chocolate Blueberry Cake.

Kitra suggested calling it “extra-gluten chocolate cake,” but I was pretty sure that’s not how whole wheat works.

Listen, it’s WHOLE wheat. Not just partial wheat. Extra wheat = extra gluten.

Fun fact: The internet tells me that whole wheat flour actually has less gluten. So.

Fun fact: Shut up. Bonus fact: Jordan calls blueberries “bluebs.” And also corrected my spelling of “bluebs.”

It’s the first part of the word “blueberries”! Of course it’s spelled that way! But also, blame my coworker for me saying “bluebs.” She started doing it and now I can’t stop. It’s so much fun to say. Bluebs. Bluebs. Say it with me.

I’m good.

Bluebs. Bluuuuuuebs.

The original cake is one layer, and generally close to something you’d want to eat while not quite making it. (Can I be mean to this cake?) The first change I wanted to make was modifying it to become a layer cake, which meant making the batch slightly larger. The second thing that I wanted to change was the blueberry layer. In the original recipe, there is hardly any blueberry. In fact, Jordan didn’t even realize it existed in the original recipe until it was pointed out while writing this. This is, however, the best part of the cake, so in this revision I wanted us to focus in on the blueberries labor.

Ah yes, the blueberries’ labor. [Note: Kitra is voice-typing.]

They do do most of the heavy lifting, and we thank them for their service.

Anyway, focusing in on the blueberry flavor. Swapping out the Cool Whip-blueberry concoction for  a blueberry whipped cream, we were able to get more into the cake. After making that whipped cream, we decided it wasn’t enough and ran to the store to get blueberry jam. Which is a stand-in for the moisture that the original recipe gets from a “ganache” and adds more fruit notes to the cake.

Side note: This cake was SO EASY. It took 10 minutes and 2 dishes to make the batter, and it is deeply pretty. Plus, it’s got whole wheat so I think you’re good to eat it for every meal today.

Oh good, because that was my plan. The cake itself is fudgy and delicious, and I say that as someone who doesn’t really like chocolate cake. The whipped cream tastes like a milkshake and we ate the leftovers straight from the food processor bowl with our forks while writing this.

Any last words on this cake?

Bluebs.

🤦

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Whole Wheat Blueberry Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens and Serious Eats. See Instagram for some behind-the-scenes shots.

Cake

1 ½ cup (180g) whole wheat flour
1 ½ cup (300g) sugar
9 tablespoons (45g) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder, lightly heaped
¾ teaspoon baking soda
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
¾ cup blueberries
1 whole egg plus 1 white

Frosting

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
25g freeze-dried blueberries

Assembly

Extra freeze-dried blueberries (optional)
1/3 cup blueberry jam
Blueberries to top

Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In blender combine water, blueberries, and the egg and white. Cover and blend until smooth.

Add to flour mixture. Whisk until well combined.

Divide the batter into two greased 8 inch round pans, and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting

In a food processor, blend the dried berries and sugar until powdery. Add the cream, and blend until stiff.

Assembly

Spread a thin layer of jam over each cake layer. Place the first layer, and add about half of your whipped cream. (Note: If you have leftover dried blueberries, feel free to do what we did and sprinkle some crushed berries over the whipped cream between layers.) Add the second layer and top with the remaining whipped cream. The cream will squish out a bit between the layers, so you can run an offset spatula around the cake to create the semi-frosted sides you see on our cake. We topped ours with some remaining dried blueberries (crushed) and a pile of fresh blueberries.

This cake keeps well in the fridge for a few days.

Flag Cake

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Jordan: This week’s cake involved a lot of indecision. I wanted something fresh and fruity; Kitra… did not.

Kitra: It had been a long hard week and I want to eat my feelings, which is why I was thinking s’mores.

Which is fair. But I made the point that we could make s’mores cake any time, and opportunities for holiday-themed cakes only come around every so often.

Hey, flag cake was my suggestion. Nothing says USA like a sheet cake the size of a toddler.

I wanted red-white-and-blue cheesecake, which we could also make any time. I guess I just didn’t want s’mores cake. It’s 90 degrees outside and I want fruit, so sue me.

I think we missed an opportunity to toast marshmallows on my porch using nothing but the sun. Sky demon.

The sky demon will be here until October.

Fair point. So we made America a birthday cake. Even though she’s had a rough week month year always. Even bad people deserve birthday cakes.

Do they really?

No. But we deserve their cakes.

We made you a birthday cake, but you don’t get to eat it, you bitch.

#USAUSAUSA

Anyway, Kitra had made this cake before, and her recommendation held up. This is a good fluffy vanilla cake, nothing fancy. Cream cheese frosting. Fruit. All of the best things in life.

Any tips for making this?

The very tiny containers of berries you find at the farmer’s market are half-pints, not full pints. You can make it work, but you really need at least a pint and a half (3 cups) of raspberries for low-stress flag-making. Learn from my mistakes.

The original recipe recommends a tiny tea strainer to coat your berries in powdered sugar (insert Boston Tea Party joke here). Any tea strainer will do in a pinch. Ours was shaped like a duck.

Improvising: the American way.

Flag Cake

Flag Cake

Adapted, very slightly, from Smitten Kitchen. See Instagram for some behind-the-scenes shots.

Tips for making this:

  1. You can add more powdered sugar to the frosting if you like it sweeter; we prefer it less sweet, plus we only had two cups of powdered sugar left. The cake is fairly sweet, though, so a tangier frosting is good here.
  2. We used white raspberries for the stripes, but you can also use regular raspberries and coat them in powdered sugar, as we did for the blueberry stars. Alternately, if you have white raspberries, you can use them for the stars too and skip the powdered sugar altogether. If you use powdered sugar, dry your berries very thoroughly to ensure good color.
  3. If you don’t have cake flour, the original recipe suggests 2/3 cups (460 grams) all-purpose flour plus 1/3 cup (45 grams) cornstarch.

Ingredients

Cake
2 sticks (1 cup, 1/2 pound or 225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
4 cups (465 grams) cake flour (see note)
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
1 teaspoon (6 grams) table salt
2 cups buttermilk (475 ml)

Frosting
8-ounce (225 gram) block cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick or 1/4 pound) butter, softened
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar

Decoration
Powdered sugar (see note)
1 cup blueberries
2-3 cups raspberries

Directions

Cake

Preheat oven to 350°. Line the bottom of a 9×13″ pan with parchment paper (or, if your pan is gross and rusty, line the entire thing) and coat lightly with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes), then add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla extract.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and sift half over the butter-sugar-egg mixture. We combined these directly in a sifter, but unless you have a particularly large sifter, we recommend combining them in a bowl and then transferring them to a sifter or wire mesh sieve. Mix until just combined. Slowly add buttermilk and mix until combined, then add the remaining dry ingredients. Mix until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth top, and bake 40-50 minutes. When done, the cake should be golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out free of batter. Remove from oven and cool completely before decorating.

Frosting

While the cake is cooling, make your frosting. Using an electric beater, beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy and smooth, then mix in the vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until combined. As noted above, you can add more powdered sugar if your frosting is especially thin or you like a very sweet frosting.

Decorations

If you like, use a serrated knife to level the top of your cake a bit. This is really up to you; we leveled ours slightly, but the frosting will hide any unevenness unless your cake is very well-domed.

Once the cake is cool, spread frosting over the top and smooth it out. No need to be finicky here, as the berries will hide most imperfections.

Outline the blue square with blueberries; the edges should fall about halfway down the short side of the cake, and about a third of the way along the long side. Scatter a handful of blueberries in the center; these will be your stars. Using a tea strainer or small mesh strainer/sifter, dust the center blueberries with powdered sugar. Fill in the rest of the square with plain blueberries.

An accurate flag cake would have 13 stripes, but as long as you start and end with a red stripe, no one will care. (That means you’ll have one more red stripe than you do white stripes.) If you’re going to powder your raspberries, lay down the white stripes first, coat them in powdered sugar, and then fill in the unpowdered berries. (Smitten Kitchen recommends just eyeballing the space you’ll need to leave for the red stripes, but we found that a few lightly placed raspberries were easy to remove without damaging the cake if needed.) If you’re using white raspberries, it’s easiest to start with the red stripes at the top and bottom and then go from there. If you bought enough berries to start with, you can go at it freestyle; we had a shortage so carefully spaced the berries out, but this is not the recommended route. Again: learn from our mistakes.