Black Sesame Orange Layer Cake

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Kitra: Jordan loves Halloween. I love… cake.

Jordan: It’s my fault. I ruined Halloween for Kitra by forcing her to have Halloween birthday parties throughout her childhood.

I maintain that there is no such thing as a “seasonally appropriate theme party” and that if my birthday was near any other holiday we would not do that.

I always thought she was wrong about this, but no. It has taken me almost twenty-six years to realize that I would have a New Year’s/Fourth of July/Halloween themed birthday, but normal people would not. Clearly I was always an event planner at heart.

Anyway, this is why we always make a Halloween cake and I don’t even make myself cake for my actual birthday. #TeamEatonMess

Halloween cakes are great because you get to be ridiculous with them. Hence the way this looks a little like a Halloween carnival threw up on a cake plate.

Even though it looks like circus peanuts, I promise it doesn’t taste like them. For one thing, it’s not stale. Yet.

The cake itself is black sesame, which has a nice mild nuttiness

–same–

and we included a slick of marmalade in between each layer, which gives it a little bitterness.

Also same.

The frosting is fairly sweet, but it’s also light. We discovered this bizarre cooked frosting a while back—you start by basically making a bechamel, which seems so, so wrong—that provides a nice neutral base for a little bit of orange flavor. (Side note: I now want to make a cheese frosting using this base.)

I don’t buy the idea that this would be anything other than horrifying. And I LOVE cheese.

This cake is also the culmination of two long-held food dreams.

Back in… 2013? I got a tube of sweet black sesame paste, which I mostly ate with a spoon and a glass of orange juice. I always said I would start a food blog only if I could come up with a good black sesame/orange cookie.

For me, I’ve been holding onto this recipe for probably five years and finally got an opportunity to make it, or at least something like it. Considering that half the point of Cake Day was to use up my many bookmarks, I’m pretty happy with that.

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Red Red Wine Chocolate Rage Cake

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Jordan: So this week happened.

Kitra: 😡

This week happened, and then I googled “rage cake recipe” and mostly got gender reveal cakes(?).

Which do, in fact, fill most of us with rage. Gender is a fucking construct you assholes, get it together and just buy some tiny baby overalls. They’re unisex.

Kitra is still in a generally angry mood.

😡

My first impulse was “what kind of cake involves smashing things” but alcohol was a close second. Smitten Kitchen, ever the source of great ways to drown your sorrows, provided us with this cake.

My response was “I am on board with the red wine cake provided I can write something along the lines of ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH on it in melted chocolate.”

Other options included “wtf y’all” and “honestly fuck Susan Collins” but we decided to keep it simple. Turns out I’m not half bad at icing in cursive. This is probably not what my third-grade teacher intended.

This cake is exactly what it claims to be. It tastes like wine and chocolate.

(Red Red Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiineeeeee)

The frosting tastes like sweetened condensed milk, though you could use a standard cream cheese frosting.

Speaking of sweetened condensed milk, during the making of this cake, I revisited some classic Buzzfeed quizzes including “What kind of milk are you?” which is deeply embedded in my personality.

“Do you want to start writing the blog post?” “Hold on, I need to finish finding out what kind of soup I am.”

I’m minestrone. She’s miso.

Getting back to the cake: It’s one-bowl, it’s not too sweet, and it includes two cups of wine. This is a cake to make when you want to smash the patriarchy, when you have that damn UB40 song stuck in your head, when you want to cry into dessert, or when you just want a good chocolate cake. Swear words highly encouraged, because fuck eloquent discourse.

So, from two 2% milks to all of you, have some rage cake.

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Turkish Coffee Icebox Cake

Turkish Coffee Cake

Kitra: A lot happened to bring us here.

Jordan: This is actually not the first time we’ve caked since our zucchini chocolate cake, but it is the first time it’s been worth writing about. Two weeks ago we attempted a blackberry cake for my boyfriend’s birthday, and it was… fine?

I never got to eat it, so can definitely say its googly eyes were the best part.

I did get to eat it, and I agree.

Kitra has been refinishing a table this weekend, so between her exhaustion and the un-noteworthy blackberry cake, we wanted something easy and foolproof.

And I wanted something pretty. Because I’m bored.

Which led us to chocotorta: an Argentinian chocolate/coffee/dulce de leche dessert that’s somewhere between tiramisu and an icebox cake.

There are few things in this world I love more than icebox cake and desserts you can eat with a spoon right out of the pan.

The problem is that back in February, Kitra moved from Columbia Heights to Eastern Market, which is pretty darn white.

*Hill East. But yes.

In Columbia Heights, we probably could have found dulce de leche at about seven different stores within three blocks of her apartment. Here, we tried every store we could without any luck. Kitra rejected my suggestion of using fleur de sel caramel sauce and making the whitest bastardization of this cake imaginable.

In an attempt to salvage the cake, since it took us all weekend to even decide on this one, Jordan suggested an adaptation. And I like cardamom, so.

So we ditched “foolproof” and did our own thing.

This turned out… really well?

Yeah, I would make this cake on purpose.

There are some things we’d change slightly (more on that in the notes), but we did high five after finishing the first of two slices.

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake

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Kitra: There are two dishes that define summer to me: ratatouille and this cake. What they have in common is that, like in most rural areas, where we grew up zucchini is both a gift and a curse. In trying to use it up as fast as it grows (impossible), people get crafty. Since this cake came into our lives, I’ve looked forward to zucchini season. And then “forgetting to clean up bits of grated zucchini and trying to scrape it off the counter weeks later” season.

I only have a hazy memory of where this cake came from. It’s on a printed ¼ sheet of computer paper, and in my head it came from someone at the school where our mom used to work.

Jordan: I had no idea, so we texted our mom to ask and she said “Somewhere in the back of my head I think someone at Riverside gave me the recipe, but I could be wrong.” At which point Kitra enthusiastically gave herself a high-five, then gave me a high-five.

Self-fiving didn’t work well enough, so I had to high-five the doubters.

Wherever it came from originally, it’s a great cake. It actually doesn’t use a ton of zucchini, but it has the benefit of being a great use for the infant-sized zucchinis we always had around, the ones that aren’t particularly nice to eat on their own.

You know, the ones that are better as weapons than as food.

In this case, the zucchini isn’t really noticeable but helps keep the cake nice and moist. This is a lightly chocolatey cake—light enough that even I, the person who doesn’t like chocolate cake and thinks chocolate chip cookies would be better without chocolate chips, enjoy it.

It’s a cake’s cake. Like a man’s man, but… a cake’s cake.

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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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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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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.

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