Friday, August 22, 2008
Just the other day, I read a really great, really fun blog post on Bakers' Banter, which is King Arthur Flour's baking blog. The post was titled, "Culinary Oxymorons, or the 'Ewwwwww!' Quotient." It talked about some pretty strange food combinations, unlikely pairs such as Velveeta Fudge and Pork-n-Beans Cake. And as you read that last sentence over again to take it all in, yes, those are two very real desserts. In fact, there are photos of melted Velveeta mixed with chocolate in that post. It's disturbing and intriguing all at the same time and I don't think I'd venture down the Velveeta baking path. But the pork-n-beans cake, now that's something I needed to consider. There was nothing gross about it to me; instead, it made a lot of sense why a can of baked beans could taste good and cook well in a cake.
I had to adapt the recipe for a couple of reasons. Seeing as I don't eat pork, I opted for a can of Bush's Vegetarian Baked Beans. And shocker of all shockers, I actually ran out of vegetable oil halfway through (so unlike me!), so I had to find an alternative. My own version of this truly spectacular cake is below, inspired by the photographed recipe card on the Bakers' Banter blog post.
The Review. It's a simple quick bread, full of flavor from the spices in the baked beans, and incredibly moist. It has a beautiful orange-brown hue, and a sweetness from two cups of sugar and baked beans in the batter, but also from the cinnamon sugar I liberally sprinkled on top. I am so excited to have discovered this recipe. It makes a traditional quick bread a lot more fun. You'll be serving this to guests, and only after they take their first bite will you then play the annoying hostess game of "Can you guess what unlikely ingredient flavors this cake?" As you ask, your guests' eyes will bug out with horror, fearing the worst. But hopefully once you tell them the answer, not even a can of baked beans in a cake could scare them away from the amazing yumminess of this dessert. I look forward to trying this recipe with a variety of brands of baked beans, as well as flavors. What would happen if I used barbecue baked beans? Ooooh, or maple baked beans? Maybe that'll be round two.
Pork-n-Beans Cake Minus the Pork
[or you can just call it Baked Beans Cake]
Adapted from a recipe card on Bakers' Banter
Makes two loaves
2 cups white sugar
1 can (15 or 16 oz.) baked beans
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cinnamon and sugar mixture for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour two (8x4-inch) loaf pans. In a large bowl, mix together sugar, beans, oil, melted butter or margarine, and eggs until smooth (the beans should be slightly mashed, but not pureed); set aside. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to bean mixture, stirring just until combined. Stir in raisins, if using them, and vanilla. Divide batter into prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle the tops liberally with a cinnamon sugar mixture. Place pans on a baking sheet.
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes (it took me exactly 54 minutes) or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks before removing from pans.
Step-by-Step in Pictures
In go the sugar, oil, butter, and yes, beans...
Add the eggs...
In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients...
Add dry ingredients to bean mixture...
Blend. This is the cake batter!
Grease and flour two 8x4-inch loaf pans...
Fill the two pans equally with batter...
Sprinkle lots and lots of cinnamon sugar on top...
Bake for about 50 minutes at 325 degrees F...
Voila! Baked Bean Cake!
You can see tiny specks of baked bean in the crumb. They add visual and gustatory interest!