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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

O Canada Day Cake


Canada Day is almost upon us and I usually do some kind of red and white cake or dessert to celebrate the day.  This is what I came up with for this year's celebrations. 

You may have seen those cupcakes or cakes on the internet that have a heart or number going right through the middle when they are cut.  Something that seems so mysterious is really very simple to do.  I'd been ruminating sometime on doing a cake for Canada Day (July 1) with a red maple leaf going through the centre.  My problem was I didn't know how I'd cut out a perfect maple leaf without a cookie cutter.   How would I get that maple leaf in the middle of the cake? How? How? How?  I had resigned myself to purchasing said cookie cutter next time I went to town but really wanted to get the cake made NOW so I could post it before Canada Day.  Such little problems in life can cause much thinking and anguish. (And I might add, unnecessarily so.) And then this morning it struck me like a bolt of lighting!  I DO HAVE A MAPLE LEAF COOKIE CUTTER!  It took a short climb up the step stool to find the much thought about item and the baking commenced.  If you read through the recipe and go down to the pictures you'll see how I use the cutter.


I thought a pound cake or at least a heavier batter cake would lend itself to this project but I'm guessing a cake mix would probably work as well if you didn't want to go through the bother of making a scratch cake. (It's almost summer, after all.)  I'm using one of my Cherry Cake batter recipe for this cake. It's not a real pound cake but it's moist and dense and pound cake-like.  It takes baking powder and milk which would eliminate it from the real  "Pound Cake" category if you were so inclined to be that much of a cake snob (which I can be at times☺).  Anyway, this cake should do the trick.     

And just to get you in the mood for baking a patriotic cake I've downloaded "O Canada" from YouTube for your listening pleasure. 



To make the O Canada Day Cake you will need to make this recipe once with red food colouring and once plain.    You will also need a deep loaf pan, straight-sided if possible.  I don't have a deep straight-sided pan so I rigged up inserts using the sides of an empty milk carton and used that.  It wasn't straight, but it was deep which is the most important part. Instructions are included in the picture section. 

O Canada Day Cake, Red Batter
1 cup butter
1⅓ cups sugar
2 eggs 
2 teaspoons red paste or gel food colouring, but you may need more
2 ⅓ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
⅓ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup milk
1⅓ teaspoons vanilla 
⅔ teaspoon almond flavouring
1⅓ tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare a high-sided 9x5-inch loaf pan by greasing and lining with parchment paper. 

Cream butter and sugar; add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add food colouring and adjust with more if needed to make as dark a red colour as you need.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with milk.  Beat well after each addition.  Add flavourings and lemon juice.  

Pack into prepared pan and bake 325 degrees for 1½-1¾ hours.  Keep checking every 5 minutes after 1½ hours to make sure you don't over bake the cake.  It took mine the full 1¾ hours to bake.  

Cool cake until it is completely cold.  You may want to place it, for a short time, in the freezer to help firm it up for cutting.  When the cake is completely cold, cut slices no thicker than the height of the maple leaf cookie cutter. Use the cookie cutter to cut a maple leaf from each slice of cake.  Place the cake leaves on a tray and cover until needed. 






I cut the sides off a 2 litre milk carton and cut them to fit in my 9x5-inch loaf pan.  That gave me almost another 2 inches height to the pan sides.





I covered the pieces with foil and fit them in the pan.






You can't see it in the pictures, but I made small corner pieces to fill in where there were gaps between the ends and sides.  









Now that the pan is ready, start baking.

To make the red cake, cream sugar and butter together.  Add eggs and mix until well blended.  Add the red food colouring making the mixture as dark as you need it to be.  I used about 2 teaspoons paste colour.

Add the flour and milk and flavourings to the creamed mixture.  Add the lemon juice last.  Pack into the prepared pan and bake at 325 degrees for at least 1½ hours.


When the red cake is completely cold, slice and cut out the maple leaves with the cookie cutter.   Lay aside until ready to assemble cake.  Cover with plastic wrap to keep from drying.


(If you have lots of red cake scraps and crumbs left over from making this cake use them in a Red and White Cake.)

O Canada Day Cake, White Batter
1 cup butter
1⅓ cups sugar
2 eggs
2 ⅓ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
⅓ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup milk
1⅓ teaspoons vanilla
⅔ teaspoon almond flavouring
1⅓ tablespoons lemon juice


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare the same pan you used for the red cake by greasing and lining with parchment paper.  Let the parchment paper hang over the sides for easy removal of cake.

Cream butter and sugar; add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with milk.  Beat well after each addition.  Add flavourings and lemon juice.  

Your cake batter is now ready to pour around the red maple leaves in the loaf pan.  

To make the white cake, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and mix thoroughly.  Add the flour, milk,  flavourings and lemon juice.  Spread a thin layer in the bottom of prepared pan.


To assemble the O Canada Day Cake for baking and decorating:

1. Place a thin layer of white cake in the prepared loaf pan.  

2. Line up the cut-out red cake maple leaves length-ways in the loaf pan on top of the white batter.   

3.  Carefully pour the white batter around and over the red cake leaves, covering completely.  I found instead of using a spoon, it was much easier to use a piping bag to squeeze the batter around the row of leaves.


4. Bake 325 degrees for 1½-1¾ hours.  Keep checking every 5 minutes after 1½ hours to make sure you don't over bake the cake. 

5. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool completely.  

6. Carefully lift the cake from the pan using the overhanging parchment as handles.  Keeping the cake right-side up, peel off the parchment paper and place the cake on a serving plate or tray.


7. Frost cake with your favourite white or vanilla icing.  You may decorate the sides with red cake crumbs made from the scraps of cake left when cutting the maple leaves. 


I used an American butter cream icing for the cake as it freezes well (can't eat it now) and it stands up well in hot weather--I hope we have hot weather.  As we will be eating the remainder of the cake on Canada Day and probably at a picnic or barbeque I wanted something that wouldn't slide off the cake before I even had a chance to slice it up.  

Vanilla Butter Cream Icing
¼ cup softened butter
2 cups icing sugar, sifted if lumpy, plus more if needed
2 or 3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat the butter while adding the icing sugar alternately with the milk.  Add the vanilla and adjust the consistency of the icing adding more sugar or milk if needed.  

If you wish to make a decorative border and write on the top of the cake make this recipe one and a half times.  



I'm quite pleased how the cake turned out.  The maple leaf is quite distinctive.  The only thing I would have done differently would be to semi-freeze the red cake slices.  The colder the cake, the sharper the cut.


O Canada . . .


Courtesy of Wikimedia.


2 comments:

  1. Going to attempt this today! You think Betty Crocker cake mix will do the trick? It's all I have at this time...

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I think the cake mix will work. Maybe leave out a couple of tablespoons of water to make it a little firmer.

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