For our August Baking Club meeting - it was my turn to host and to select our theme. I chose yeasted cakes after first hearing about them on The Great British Baking Show last season on PBS. If you haven't checked out this show, I highly recommend it. It's currently in its newest season on Sunday nights - and is so much fun to watch and learn! With a more European bent to the types of desserts featured, I've been learning about new kinds of sweets and treats that have me wanting to run to the kitchen to start baking!
So, on one episode last season, one of the baking challenges was for yeasted cakes. I was really intrigued by the concept and the history. Before sponge cakes (which uses eggs) and chemical leaveners (like baking powder), the oldest method for making a cake rise was to use yeast. When I learned that, I thought "of course!", that makes perfect sense! So I was eager to go old-school.
I think we all had fun trying this theme - though most of us had issues with our yeast rising in the expected time frames. Not sure if was the humid, summer air, but it took a lot longer for our cakes to rise - and then once they did, we had a hard time getting them to stop!
For my recipe, I chose one that was featured on The Great British Baking Show. It's an orange flavored savarin - a type of yeasted cake that is baked in a ring shape and soaked in a liqueur flavored syrup. What appealed to me about this recipe, was the prominent orange citrus flavor and the accompanying cinnamon whipped cream. For the most part, following the recipe worked well, though I had some trouble with getting my batter to rise and then once it did, from rising too fast! But it baked up well and after cooling, the cake absorbed a stunning 2 cups of syrup! While the cake was delicious and didn't taste too "yeasty" - I probably won't make another yeasted cake again. When I want cake, I'll make a cake; when I want bread, I'll make some bread - this savarin fell a little too in the middle for me.
Gina brought a scrumptious gooey butter cake, built on the base of a yeasted cake. I had seen this recipe before and was so glad that Gina made it for baking club! This cake is comprised of two layers: a yeasted cake topped with a sweet, buttery mixture that bakes up into a toasty, chewy, gooey topping. I could have just filled up on that topping alone - so good!
Tonya brought a simple but flavorful yeasted sugar cake - it reminded us of the flavor of a donut. I think you could probably spread a powdered sugar glaze all over and it would taste like a giant Krispy Kreme! This cake is light and is a nice companion to coffee or tea.
Klare brought with her two takes on the yeasted cake. The first was a yeasted plum tart. Klare, too, had issues with the yeast and ended up using the base of Tonya's yeasted sugar cake after the base in the original recipe didn't quite turn out the results she wanted. She then followed the recipe, adding the fresh plums and streusel topping. I'm always a fan of anything with streusel, and this was so delicious! If you didn't want to make a yeasted cake base - you could use this plum & streusel combo with your favorite cobbler recipe.
Klare's second recipe, a yeasted chocolate coffee cake, was an example of the more bread end of the yeasted cake spectrum. Yeasted cakes have a very close resemblance to soft, yeast breads like babka or stollen - and this coffee cake definitely fit the bill. Klare used a nice dark chocolate in this coffee cake, which stood out nicely against the soft, slightly sweet bread.