Monday, May 28, 2012

Elixir Wage Cake

Back in the 15th Century in Britain the labor force was under a truck system. The truck system was a manner in which payment was made for services in the form of commodities.  This in turn meant that those commodities had to be exchanged for the actual true needs of the laborer.  Also, the place of exchange would be a company owned store that controlled the value.

However, when it came to farm workers and cider, the average wage was 4-5 pints a day.  This system soon was became a way to rate a laborer. The more a man could drink, the more valuable he became. So a man that put away 2 gallons a day was considered a great worker.  Then in 1887 came the Truck Act which put a stop to payment in commodities and the drink fest came to a close.

Perhaps payment in the form of hard cider was a bad thing, but I decided that this particular cake would make for a nice company bonus!  This spicy cake takes a whopping 1 1/2 cups of hard cider.  Along with that, you include dark brown sugar and some apple juice.  The rich moist crumb of the cake is delicious enough on its own, but I couldn't just leave it at that.  Hard cider does deserve an apple chaser, so I included a tunnel of apples as well.

Elixir Wage Cake
by flourtrader

Ingredients/apple tunnel
1 cup dried apple pieces, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Ingredients/Cake Batter
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups hard cider (open can or bottle and leave sit overnight, covered, to get flat)
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks of butter
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar

To make the filling, fill a saucepan with the apples, water, orange juice and apple juice in a medium size saucepan and place over medium heat and stir.  Let mixture come to a simmer and then cover and let cook for about 10 minutes.  You want the apples to become very soft and a lot of the liquid to be absorbed.  Then add the sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Simmer uncovered, stirring constantly for about 5-8 minutes, the water should now be very thick and syrupy.  Remove and set aside to cool to room temperature.  After it reaches room temperature, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease the inside of a 10 cup bundt pan.  Then dust with flour.   Sift together baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and flour and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Then beat in vanilla extract and salt.  Add one egg and beat for 30 seconds and then do the same with the second egg.  Using a wooden spoon, fold 1/3 of the sifted ingredients into the batter.  Then add 1/2 cup apple juice and 1/2 cup hard cider, stir until blended.  Add 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture and blend with wooden spoon.  Pour the last of the hard cider (1 cup) into the bowl and mix.  Follow with the rest of the sifted ingredients and blend until no dry streaks remain.

Now, to fill the cake pan.  I used 3 cups for the first layer, but you can see how much sinking the apples did.  I would say put 5 or 6 cups of batter into the pan.  Then take out the apple mixture and spoon it around in a circle in the center of the batter, making sure none touches the edges.  Spoon the rest of the cake batter on top and smooth out evenly.

Place pan in oven and bake for about 55 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  Place pan on a rack and let cool for 20 minutes.  Then invert and let completely cool before slicing.

Tips and Notes:
1.  Cake is better the next day because the spice flavor develops more.  I liked mine served slightly warm.
2.  The sinking factor is unpredictable,  but the apples may land dead center even if you place them on top of all the batter before baking-the process does need some experimenting for placement..
3.  Caramel sauce would be a great accompaniment.
                         **LAST YEAR: Triple Quake Bars**