Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Although I'm not Irish, any day that gives me an excuse to bake something out of the ordinary is a day worth celebrating. Traditionally on St. Patrick's Day, I have made chocolate Guinness cake but this year I decided to go for something a little different once I saw this recipe on tastespotting a few weeks ago. I can't say I don't miss the chocolate, but the frosting is amaaaazing. If you ever wanted to know how to make a caramel frosting without actually making a caramel, this is the frosting for you.

In a recent past life, I was a cake decorator. The frosting isn't the most forgiving (hence the extra piping to cover up mistakes) and won't give you the smoothest sides, but the taste was absolutely worth the effort. I baked the cake batter in my new 5'' layer pans and made 11 cupcakes from the rest of the batter. The original recipe calls for a 9'' springform pan. Any pan you use, be sure to keep an eye on it as it's baking. I used an apricot jam in the middle of the cake rather than frosting and, one more thing, I cut the sugar down by half - I didn't think 1 cup of each type of sugar was really necessary and the cake tastes great without the extra. My modified version is below.

I hope everyone has a great St. Patrick's Day!

Guinness Oatmeal Apricot Cake

1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1 can Guinness beer
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

Pour the beer over the oats in a medium bowl and let sit for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the oatmeal has absorbed the beer.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and grease the pan(s) you're using to bake the cakes in. Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until creamy (about 30 seconds) after each one is added. Add the flour mixture alternately with the oatmeal and Guinness mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Fold in the apricots.

Divide and pour the batter into your cake pan(s) and bake anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes depending on the size of the pan you used. A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean when they're done.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2-3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Cream the butter, cream cheese and brown sugar until the brown sugar is dissolved into the butter and cream cheese, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the confectioner's sugar a cup at a time, tasting to make sure the sweetness is to your liking. I went for about 2 1/2 cups. Add the vanilla extract and salt and beat until lighter and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Hope this cake makes you lucky! :)

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