This recipe looks like a fair amount of work – and it is – but the reward is worth the effort. The cake is light and contrasts yummily (yummily?) with the filling; the frosting gives a sugar high that lasts for days. Sail on.
With thanks to the Rombauers and the Joy of Cooking (1975). This recipe is mostly from that book, with a few little tweaks by the Captain.
For the cake
1 3/4 Cake flour
1/4 tsp. Baking soda
1 3/4 tsp. Baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. Cocoa powder
1 Tbl Instant espresso coffee
1/3 Cup soft butter
1 cup Sugar
2 Egg yolks
1 Cup sour cream
1. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
2. Preheat oven to 375.
3. Put all the dry ingredients and the butter in a mixer bowl and beat well at medium speed.
4. Add the sugar and mix well.
5. Mix the egg yolks into the sour cream, and add to the first mixture. Whip until stiff.
6. Pour the cake into the two pans and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and is springy to the touch. a toothpick inserted in the center should come out dry.
For the filling
3/4 cup Pecans (or almonds, or the nut of your choice)
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Orange juice
1/2 cup chopped Dried fruit (you can buy the mix that stores sell for making fruit cake, or anything else that appeals to you. Dried apricots would be fantastic, I think)
1/2 cup Raisins
dash of Salt
2 Tbl Flour dissolved in 1/2 cup cool Water
dash of Vanilla
1. Chop and toast the nuts in a medium sauce pan (to toast nuts, put them over a medium heat and mix frequently. Be attentive – they will go from toasted to burnt in a flash.) Remove from pan and set aside
2. In the same pan combine the sugar, orange juice, dried fruit, raisins and salt and begin to cook over medium heat.
3. When the mixture is warm, add the flour-water mixture and continue cooking.
4. Cook until the sauce is nicely thickened, probably about 5 minutes. Add a splash of vanilla
For the icing
2 cups Sugar
1 cup Water
2 egg whites
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. Cream of tartar or a few drops lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Stir the sugar in the water and bring to a boil over medium heat.
2. Cover and cook about 3 minutes until the steam has washed down any sugar on the sides of the pan.
3. Uncover and continue to cook, without stirring, until the soft-ball stage, 238-240 on a candy termometer.
4. Beat the egg whites and salt until frothy and able to hold shape.
5. Continuing to beat the eggs, slowly add the sugar syrup in a thin stream.
6. Add the tartar of lemon juice and the vanilla, and keep beating until you have the spreading consistency you want.
Building the cake
1. Put one layer of cake upside down on your cake plate.
2. Pile the filling on top of this layer.
3. Put the top cake layer on with the top up.
4. Frost with the boiled frosting.
Dig in! It’s hard to stop after one piece.