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United Cakes of America - Cookbook Review

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 Posted by Rita A

July 4th is just around the corner. Lots of pride in our 50 great states can be seen in red, white and blue glory! Warren Brown, the very successful cake baker and author, decided to bring us culinary adventure of cakes made from every state. United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State is an incredible tasty journey of our great tastes across the nation.

I adore this book. Each state is represented in short stories as well as recipes using those famed flavors of the region. I had to see what the cake is for my state, California and it is rather unusual. Avocado Cupcakes! It makes sense because we grow near 90 percent of all avocadoes produced in the U.S. (bet you did not know that). The recipe sounds pretty tasty made with cornmeal or grits with the avocado and lots of spices plus crunchy walnuts. I think I would try this recipe. Also from California, is Chiffon Cake which was created in 1927 in Los Angeles. Yum.

A few recipes from other states:
Georgia - Coca-Cola Cake
Kentucky - Kentucky Derby Cake
New York - Red Velvet Cake
Michigan - Chocolate Souerkraut Cake
Texas - Texas Sheet Cake

There are so many more wonderful taste treats from every part of our country. You will find official state desserts and unofficial favorites. Also included are Warren's creations based on the ingredients for the area. Some are cakes, cupcakes, pancakes and treats. All made with Warren's touch of CakeLove.

United Cakes of America is a joy to read and is filled with glorious photos. The format is easy to read and the recipes are clearly explained for easy of preparation. I have about 4 cakes on my must make this list for my 4th of July get together. Which one will I choose is the big question.

Here is a sample recipe courtesy of the publisher:

Nutmeg Spice Cupcakes (or Hartford Election Cake Updated)

Yield: One 9-inch layer cake or 24 cupcakes
Dry ingredients:
8 ounces (1 cup) superfine granulated sugar
5 ounces (1 cup) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon potato starch
1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
Pinch of allspice
Pinch of salt
1⁄8 teaspoon baking soda

Wet ingredients:
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) butter, melted
¼ cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon rum
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and place the rack in the middle position. Lightly coat a cupcake tray with nonstick oil-and-starch spray and line 10 of the cups with paper liners.

2. Measure and combine all the dry ingredients in a deep bowl. Whisk lightly for about 15 seconds to blend.

3. Combine all the wet ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid and shake well for 15 seconds.

4. Lightly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. This should take about 15 seconds.

5. Scoop or pour 2 ounces of batter into the paper-lined cups. (Using a food scooper or ladle works best.)

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes are golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center of one comes out clean or with just a few crumbs.

7. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes before removing them from the tray. When they are room temperature, frost or decorate them with Old-Fashioned Milk Buttercream (recipe below).

Old-Fashioned Milk Buttercream

Yield: Enough for one 9-inch layer cake or 24 cupcakes

1 cup milk
2 ounces (¼ cup) all-purpose flour
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
8 ounces (1 cup) superfine granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Quickly whisk together 4 tablespoons of the milk with the flour. This slurry will be somewhat thick, so whisk thoroughly to make it smooth. Press out any lumps with a flexible spatula, if necessary.

2. Whisk in the rest of the milk and transfer the mixture to a 2-quart heavy-bottom saucepan. Bring to a simmer for about 30 seconds over medium heat, whisking the whole time.

3. Remove the pan from the stove and place plastic wrap directly against the milk’s surface. (This is the best method to prevent a skin from forming.) Cool to room temperature.

4. Combine the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix at medium to high speed for 5 minutes.

5. Pour the cooled milk-and-flour mixture into the bowl and beat for another 5 minutes, or longer, as needed to achieve a spreadable consistency.

Sounds delectable!

For those of you wanting more information about Warren Brown, take a moment to visit Cakelove.

You can purchase United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State directly from Abrams, your local bookseller or at Amazon. For cakes this good, you could use the recipes year round!

UNITED CAKES OF AMERICA: Recipes Celebrating Every State
By Warren Brown
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
ISBN: 978-1-58479-839-2
May 2010
$29.95 U.S. / $38.95 CAN
224 pages / 50 color photographs; more than 50 recipes / 9 x 10

Many thanks to Abrams for providing the review copy.

Disclosure: I received a gratis copy for this review. No monetary compensation was offered or accepted for this post. The opinions above are my own. Others experience may vary.

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