Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Candied Bacon Cake


            While enjoying one my cupcakes a few weeks back, a co-worker of mine named Andrew says to me: “You’re gonna make some guy really fat someday”.
To which I reply: “Probably”.
Truth is, happiness does make you fat. Someday I’ll make someone euphoric.


            In honor of Andrew, and two more co-workers of ours, who all share April 11th birthdays, I made something particularly decadent for them. I made a candied bacon cake. Can you think of a better diabetes-inducing-heart-attack-producing indulgence? No. It’s a three-layer maple and brown sugar cake, topped with maple vanilla frosting and filled/covered with homemade candied bacon. Thank me later, because you should try one for yourself ASAP.  Candied Bacon tastes a lot like love.
            This one is a bit time consuming, considering you have to cook the candied bacon (which can take up to two hours) before making the cake. Consider making the bacon a day in advance and store in the fridge until you’re ready to decorate. You can also cheat using a vanilla box cake recipe (just add ¼ tsp cinnamon, and 1 1/2 tsp maple flavor to the mix when adding the oil) and canned vanilla frosting (adding 1 tsp maple flavor to the can, mix well).

CANDIED BACON:
1 ½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
2 lb (16 strips) ¼ inch cut applewood-smoked* bacon
Two 12”x17”, lipped baking sheets. Or just two lipped baking sheets the same size.

*You can really use your personal favorite bacon. I recommend applewood smoked for the sweet meat flavor it already packs. I also recommend buying nitrate/nitrite free bacon.

1.     Carefully line one 12”x17” lipped baking sheet with tin foil.
2.     Cover the bottom of the cookie sheet with a single layer of parchment paper. Trust me on the double lining- if sugar leaks onto your pan and cooks or burns, it is a Martha-Faulkner-ing B*tch to clean up.
3.     Preheat the oven to 350°
4.     Mix the brown sugars in a large bowl.
5.     Carefully coat each strip of bacon with sugar. You may have a tablespoon or more leftover, reserve your leftover sugar. Lay the bacon in a single layer on the cookie sheet. I could only fit 8 strips at a time on mine- I ended up baking twice.
6.     Cover the bacon with another sheet of parchment paper.
7.     Place the second baking sheet on top of the sheet with the bacon in it, over the parchment paper. This helps the bacon cook flat, as well as prevent the sugar from burning before the meat is fully cooked.
8.     Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
9.     At 25 minutes pull your top baking sheet and the top sheet of parchment paper off. Carefully drain the fat out of the pan without dumping the bacon. Flip the bacon over. If you had any reserve sugar, sprinkle it on. 
10. Recover with the same parchment paper and second baking sheet. Return to the oven for 20 minutes.
11. After 20 minutes. Remove the top baking sheet and parchment paper. Immediately return the now open-face bacon to the oven for final crisping.
12. Cook roughly 5 more minutes. DO NOT WALK AWAY. Without that top layer the bacon can go from perfect to burnt in 10 seconds! Believe me. Things can turn just that fast.
13. Let bacon cool on a plate. Refrigerate until you’re ready to decorate the cake.

MAPLE BROWN SUGAR CAKE:

3 cups all purpose flour
½ cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1¼ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp maple flavor
Butter and flour to prepare the cake pans

1.     Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
2.     Add the brown sugar, white sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk dry ingredients well.
3.     Using an electric or standing mixer on medium speed, add the wet ingredients one at a time in the following order: oil, eggs, milk, vanilla and maple, until everything is just combined. Do not over mix- as soon as all the lumps disappear you are ready to go.
4.     Coat three, 8” round cake pans with butter, then sprinkle the pans lightly with flour to create your stick-free surface. Discard excess flour. Pour batter equally between the three cake pans (about half-full).
5.     Bake at 325° for 30 min.
6.     Cool on a wire rack.

VANILLA MAPLE FROSTING:

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted, softened butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp maple flavor
2 Tbsp milk

1.     Beat together butter, vanilla, and maple.
2.     Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.
3.     Add the milk. Mix until smooth.

ASSEMBLY:

1.     Cut 6 strips of bacon into 1 inch square pieces. Set aside. These are for decorating the outside of the cake.
2.     Cut the other 10 strips of bacon into the smallest possible pieces you can. The smaller the better*. Set aside. These are for the inside of the cake.
3.     Trim the tops of your cakes to ensure they will sit level.
4.     Place your first layer of cake on your plate or platter of choice. It’ll stay in place if you smear a quarter-sized dollop of frosting underneath the cake on the plate itself.
5.     Generously frost the top of the first cake.
6.     Sprinkle 1/2 of the tiny bacon pieces onto the frosting.
7.     Top with the second layer of cake.
8.     Repeat steps 5 and 6.
9.     Cover with third layer of cake.
10. Frost the entire thing with a thin crumb coat.
11. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
12. Frost another layer with the rest of the frosting. Reserve about 2 Tbsp of frosting for a center rosette if you’d prefer (as pictured).
13.  Use the larger bacon pieces to cover the outside of the cake.


*I stress the smallness of these pieces, because when I made this cake I cut all the bacon into 1” pieces. You can’t cut through the candied bacon pieces while cutting the cake. When I cut into the cake, trying to make very thin slices, without the sharpest of knives, the knife caught on the largest pieces of bacon, which subsequently tore through the super moist, soft cake. Notice the excess of crumbs on my platter. Some of the cake slices did not turn out pretty at all. Luckily it all tasted the same- as in crazy delicious!

See ya’ll at the cardiologist! Maybe we should go on a gym date!




5 comments:

  1. I'm making this exact cake tomorrow night for my bacon loving friend - I'll let you know how it turned out!

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  2. My Daughter wants this cake for her 12th Birthday!! Can't wait to try it!

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  3. I made this yesterday for my brother's 18th birthday party, that was bacon-themed. Everyone loved it! I just put the bacon on the top though, I wasn't sure how the candied bacon would turn out since I've never candied anything before and wasn't sure if it had cooked long enough. It was perfect, thanks for posting it!

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  4. I am planning to make this in a sheet cake for June. Each family in our church is assigned a month to make a cake for everyone who has a birthday that month. Then we gather everyone around and sing Happy Birthday to all of them. You are right - who wouldn't LOVE this?? I am going to crumble the candied bacon before putting on the cake after reading that it is difficult to slice.

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  5. I'm making this for my bacon loving hubby's birthday on Saturday. I'm making it into cupcakes to make it easier to serve. I'm making the candied bacon today and it smells AMAZING!!

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