Very slowly, but surely, I have been settling into Seattle. I dropped my family off at the airport yesterday (a tremendously sad event) and have been trying to do things to fill my days since. Being unemployed, the job hunt always continues, but you can't do that all the time! My new roommate Rachel and I took a stroll around Green Lake... but don't ask me to tell what district it's in, I'm just getting a hang of that stuff! But then we went to this wonderful vegetarian restaurant "Cafe Flora." It is decorated so serenely; the center of one room has a small rock garden/waterfall complete with a bonsai tree while the walls are lined with bamboo. The other room, which features the bar, was a little more lively. But both sides serve their wonderful food. Now, you're talking to someone who would ask to eat at Seva (an Ann Arbor vegetarian restaurant) every chance they got. So it means a lot when I say this place was better than Seva! The didn't have as wide of a range of dishes, but everything they make they appears to be made perfectly. I personally got the black bean burger with caramelized onions with a side of yam fries. I would give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars. The only reason it doesn't get five stars is because I have yet to eat something so good it literally knocks me off my seat. But the burger... it has the perfect balance of flavor and spice. It was spicy enough for me, but not so spicy that the flavors of the black beans and onions couldn't shine through. I'm exited to go back and try other dishes.
But you're not here for restaurant review... maybe you are... but the point of this post is cake! Lots of cake for a wonderful person - my Grandma! As I was moving (erm... now moved) to Seattle, I wouldn't be able to celebrate my Grandma's birthday on her actual birthday, so we surprised her with a party a month before hand! As seen in a previous post, I made her cards, my sister gave her a book and a bookmark that she made and my mom presented her with a wind spinner she bought from the Ann Arbor Art Fair. It was so nice to see someone so surprised and happy! In my opinion, one of the best parts was the cake I also surprised her with.
It's from my new cookbook "More from Magnolia" (looking back, it's ironic because I now live in Magnolia) that I purchased from the Magnolia Bakery in New York City when I was there in early July. I flipped though all the recipes and my mom and I decided a Caramel Pecan Layer Cake would be the best one for her. She, and my mom, love caramel. And toasted pecans. And cake. And cake in layers. Obviously, there were no objections. The cake was easy to make and better yet you had to make the frosting beforehand!
Caramel Pecan Layer Cake
Adapted from: More from Magnolia
- 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperture
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs, at room tempture
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 5 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
- 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups coarsely chopped toasted pecans
- Toast the pecans, place on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes... or until your whole house smells like pecans. Keep oven at 350-degrees.
- Line two 10-inch spring form baking pans and grease.
- In a small bowl, combine the flours then set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
- Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy (3+ minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients, beat until all the ingredients are incorporated... but take caution to NOT over beat (this will create gluten and make the cake tough). Scrape down batter into the bowl, making sure all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. Let the layers cools in the pans for one hour.
- When the layers have cooled completely, ice the cake (recipe below).
Caramel Frosting Directions:
- In a large bowl, on the medium speed on an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth.
- Add the sugars and beat on low speed for 2 minutes.
- Add the milk, syrup, and vanilla, and beat until smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes. Store covered, at room temperature, overnight or up to 2 days.