Friday, December 16, 2011

A Birthday Cake for Jane Austen: Twelfth Night Cake


I hope you'll pardon my digression from the merry-making of Christmas goodies in order to celebrate a beloved literary figure.  Happy Birthday Jane Austen!  Jane captured my heart long ago with her sharp satire and humor. And with the handsome Mr. Darcy, of course.

True, this is Jane's birthday cake, but I made it especially for I Heart Classics, my publisher's Tumblr site that celebrates all things pertaining to classic literature.  If you are a Janeite, or any-sort-of-classic-literature-ite, then you'll enjoy browsing IHC.


To celebrate this birthday properly, I chose a Regency era cake called Twelfth Night Cake.  The cake's meaning has changed over the years, but essentially Twelfth Night was a celebration that marked the end of the Christmas season in Jane's time.  This cake was always present at the occasion.  It is somewhat fruitcake-like (don't be scared) and I've completely updated it by removing those weirdly green candied cherries, and adding dried cranberries, orange zest and pecans.  See? That sounds delicious, and not at all scary.  It also gets a dose of Cointreau simple syrup. No dry fruitcake on my watch!

Perhaps the neatest thing about this cake - the bean.  A dried bean gets baked into the cake.  If you find the bean in your slice of cake then you are the Queen (or King) of the celebration.  Doesn't that sound like fun?  I may have to bring this (and a paper crown) to our Christmas Eve party this year.


I knew exactly how I would decorate this cake when I found a set of Jane Austen themed rubber stamps from Etsy seller Oxford Impressions.  The decorations are stamped wafer paper (the "ink" is black food coloring) adhered to pastillage.  Everything is completely edible, right down to the pink and silver dragee quote marquees.


Twelfth Night Cake
One 12-inch cake, serves 8-10                                                                         [click for printable version]

Make the cake:
1/2 lb. (1 cup or 2 US stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 lb. (2 cups) granulated sugar
5 eggs
2 oz (1/4 cup) orange liqueur (I used Cointreau)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 lb. (2 cups) all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 lb (about 2 cups) dried cranberries
8 oz (about 2 cups) roughly chopped pecans
Zest of 1 large orange
1 dried bean

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until pale.
2. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and add orange liqueur and vanilla.  Mix well then pour into the butter mixture.  Beat until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.
3. Add the flour, salt and spices.  Mix thoroughly.
4. Add the cranberries, pecans and orange zest. Stir to combine.
5. Grease and line a 12-inch cake pan with parchment paper - bottom and sides. Pour cake batter in and use a fork to press the dried bean down into the batter.  Cover top of cake with aluminum foil.  Bake for 2 1/2 - 3 hours.  Remove cake from oven and let cool in the pan while you make the simple syrup.

Note:  You may also insert the dried bean AFTER the cake is baked.  This will ensure that the bean doesn't cook during the 3 hours in the oven. The dried cranberries re-hydrate quite a bit, so this worries me about the fate of your bean, especially if it is small.

Orange simple syrup:
8 oz (1 cup) water
1/4 lb. (1 cup) sugar
2 tbsp. orange liqueur (such as Cointreau)
1 cinnamon stick

1. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and set over medium-high heat.  Stir until sugar is dissolved and liquid is very hot.  Remove from heat and add cinnamon stick.  Let steep 5-10 minutes.
2. When liquid has cooled somewhat, remove the cinnamon stick and add the orange liqueur.
3. Pour syrup over cake a little at a time, allowing it to soak in before the next addition.  Do this until all the syrup is used.  Turn cake out on a serving plate when it is completely cool.



87 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What an astonishing cake! A beautiful ode to Jane Austen. This is such a splendid creation.

Cheers,

Rosa

fifthfloorkitchen said...

This is gorgeous! Absolutely beautiful- I wouldn't want to eat it after I put in all that work! =)

cookies and cups said...

Amazing! I love the cranberries in there, I bet it's as good as it is pretty.

the decorated cookie said...

Can't even type, I'm so floored. Posted immediately on Edible Crafts :). Poor Edgar now has competition for "favorite Sprinkle Bakes cake."

Heather (Heather's Dish) said...

and this, heather, this is why i love you and love this blog. you are SO creative! and you just won my heart with this cake seeing as how i absolutely adore jane austen. and you...obvi :)

Sarah (Snippets of Thyme) said...

I can't wait to show this to M. when she wakes up. I often call her the modern J. Austen. Have you seen the latest Sense and Sensibilities? Marvelous breathtaking scenery of the little "cottage" the girls live in by the sea after their "mansion" is lost. Beautiful cake Heather!

IFeelCook said...

OMG, this cake is amazing!!! I love it. Absolutely gorgeous :D

Dharma said...

Una tarta realmente espectacular. Adora a Jane Austen.
Un saludo y Feliz Navidad

Alliwmcer said...

Do you have an icing recipe to go with it? I would love to make this for dessert this year.

Marina {Yummy Mummy) said...

What a GORGEOUS cake!

Jess Wakasugi {Life's Simple Measures} said...

Wow. Simply stunning. One of the most pretty and unique cakes I've seen since I've been blogging. This is truly amazing, love it!!

Patti Morfeld Kublawi RN BSN said...

Just divine, or as Jane herself might say, Brilliant!

Cookbook Queen said...

I don't know what to say about this cake, other than I'm in awe. You are truly an artist, Heather!!

Charin Kent said...

Just when i thought your blog couldn't get any cuter you go and make this stunning cake to honor such a wonderful writer, I do believe you are my soul sister Heather! :)

Jenn said...

Wow, what a beautiful cake, and so creative. It looks equally delicious as it does gorgeous. Great job!

Lauren said...

I love fruitcake, so I'm not scared! :-) It's gorgeous, as well and a great way to honor a very talented lady!

Resh said...

such a beautiful cake...i love Jane Austen...and this looks perfect....;)

bojosperlacuina said...

It's a fantastic cake!

Kavi @ Lab to Fab! said...

Wow! I agree with fifthfloorkitchen... can't imagine cutting into this after all that hard work! Great job :)

thetoastedsprinkle.com said...

It's funny you say you "updated" the cake by taking out the green candied cherries, when in reality you basically followed the old traditional 12th Night Cake. I was curious where you got your recipe? I wrote a whole thesis on wedding cakes from 1800-1950, which actually evolved out of the 12th Night Cake, it's nice to see such a beautifully adapted cake. Plus I {adore} Jane Austen (and obviously Mr. Darcy as well!). Love the blog!

SprinkleBakes said...

Hi!!

@Alliwmcr - I think the cake is sweet enough without icing (the simple syrup certainly contributes sweetness) - I'd suggest a dusting of powdered sugar right before serving. Or even a milk/powdered sugar glaze would be nice and look pretty.

@thetoastedsprinkle - Haha, perhaps I should have worded that differently. Old is made new again, maybe? Anyway, this was adapted (almost beyond recognition) from an old NY times recipe. I added salt and vanilla, left out and interchanged ingredients... I still feel it is a fair representation of the cake. And it is really delicious.
Thank you so much! I would love to read your thesis!!

Rinn said...

It's like a King Cake! (but far less gaudy. mmm)

Jess said...

That is absolutley amazing. And I agree how on earth did you bring yourself to cut into it!! What a masterpiece.

Becca said...

Wow, this is one elaborate and beautiful cake. I bet Jane Austin would be exctatic to have this as a birthday cake. You are an amazing baker/artist.

Rebecca said...

That....is the most beautiful thing I have seen.

Monica Fairview said...

This is superb! what a lovely tribute to Jane!

Jessica @ How Sweet said...

you are so, so, so unbelievably talented. i love you.

Ellen said...

Um. Freaking beautiful. You've captured the essence of Jane Austen in a cake...a cake. Lovely, just lovely.

Meg said...

This is absolutely incredible -- WOW. I mean, wow. I'm a huge Janeite and was psyched to see your post. Happy birthday, dear Jane -- and yay for your lovely work!

Jenn said...

Ok, so I already commented once, but I have to comment again just because this cake is so amazing that it deserves another one. :) I can't stop staring at it, it's so gorgeous. I love the bean idea, too. Happy Birthday, Jane!

Lili said...

Oh how beautiful! And such a charming tradition with the bean. Your images have me swooning. And suddenly I want to pour a glass of blush wine and eat something sweet with it. Just incredible! xoxo ~Lili

Paula said...

Jaw dropping beautiful!

Jessica said...

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I myself adore Jane Austen and this cake is simply perfection.

Monette said...

YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING! THIS IS SOOOOO AMAZING!

linda said...

This cake is a MASTERPIECE!!
thank you for your digression.

Yadsia @ShopCookMake said...

wow, I have no words. How beautiful! It's SO elegant.

Susan said...

Oh, yes! Please DO bring a cake ala bean and a crown to our party! Love, love, love this!

Sarti said...

Lovely design. Clever, stylish and rather unusual. A true piece of edible art :)

Amanda said...

Absolutely stunning and so creative. I am in awe!

vanillasugarblog said...

heather, jane would be speechless if you made this for you. me too.
happy weekend doll!

agreyeyedgirl said...

Gorgeous! I love it! 12th Night is one of my favorite things--I love the idea of making Christmas last, and a few years ago my friends and I started throwing a 12th Night masquerade party every year. We dress up, exchange presents, and have a King Cake (whoever gets the bean is crowned as the host for next year!). And Jane Austen shares her birthday with my two-year old goddaughter, so this cake is made of all the things I love!

Heidi said...

Just lovely, simply lovely. :)

sliceofmylyfe said...

Such a unique cake. You make me weak in the knees with your creations.

Anonymous said...

i love this soooo much!!! what a great cake!! best ever

Elpiniki said...

This cake looks so amazing!
Love your blog! Nice finding you! Visit me at: my-greek-cooking.blogspot.com

Lauren at Keep It Sweet said...

What a stunning cake and a beautiful post! You are so talented!

Ariella said...

This is truly beautiful. What an inspired cake!

Anonymous said...

This cake is a stunner. I want to make it....I do not have a 12 inch cake tin. Is there a suggestion as to what I can use instead? Thanks so much for continuing this site. I visit it daily..

Laurel Ann (Austenprose) said...

Absolutely stunning. A masterpiece. Thanks for sharing.

Brenna Hawley said...

Pride and Prejudice is both my favorite book and movie. Obviously, I need to go buy me a set of those stamps!

woodstockwardrobe.com said...

This is amazingly beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

http://woodstockwardrobe.com/

itsybitsybrianna said...

That is STUNNING!
You are incredibly talented.
Please stop by for a visit.

Briannna
www.itsybitsybrianna.wordpress.com

Megan said...

Beautiful!! That bean idea is so cute. And Happy Birthday Jane Austin!

warmvanillasugar said...

Stunning! This is absolutely fantastic!

Lora said...

Just stunning Heather. I love the quotes and how you integrated them onto the cake. Amazing.

Jennifer (Delicieux) said...

What an absolutely stunning ode to Jane Austen!!!! Those stamps are gorgeous.

Mishaps and Mayhem of a Gluten Free Life said...

A totally amazing cake! I'm a big Jane Austen fan and lover of baking as well as a blogger and magical is how to describe this cake! My best friend n I were thinking about doing a cake design course n this cake has made my mind up! I too want to create masterpieces like this! Well done u should be so proud!

Maja said...

This is so inspiring!

Kat said...

That looks fantastic! I love Austen and Twelfth Night. In Louisiana, Twelfth Night is a big deal, as it marks the beginning of Carnival season. We make King cakes, but instead of being more like fruitcake, they're more like cinnamon rolls with royal icing. We can bake beans in them, but most of the time, we use plastic babies so they don't get confused with part of the cake. I don't care for fruit cake, but this one looks yummy especially with the Austen pieces. Thanks for sharing.

Sue said...

Such a BEAUTIFUL cake, Heather! A treat for the eyes, and I'm sure the tastebuds as well! I really like the last quote in the photo for I'm quite a homebody at heart:)

Melissa (The Sword in the Scone) said...

Beautiful cake. Love the Jane Austen quotes.

Julie (pharmbelle85) said...

This is so gorgeous! I hope you and your family have a fantastic Christmas!

thetoastedsprinkle.com said...

Oh believe me, my thesis is pretty dull. It was fun to read all the satirical articles about old wedding cake recipes though, I'll dig them up and send them your way. they really are a hoot.

Linda said...

I'll be making this for my family on christmas! How long do you think it will keep? I suspect a couple of days with all the sugar and alcohol?
Thanks a lot for the recipe!

little random happiness said...

::swooon::

Sparrow Grace said...

This is beyond incredible. The fact that you baked and decorated a Jane Austen cake just made my day.

Pink Patisserie said...

Love this. Simply stunning. Did you use fondant or marzipan for the frosting? Some use both I think?

Gloria (The Little Red House with the White Porch) said...

Oh my... what a masterpiece. Just exquisite. Love all of the quotes you used! You are out of this world with your detailed decorating of these scrumptious delights! You are truly gifted...
Best,
Gloria

Laura@HappyCanadianHome.com said...

Your cake is amazing ... I've shared it on my own blog ... www.HappyCanadianHome.com ... well done!

Christa @ Hooked on Books said...

This is amazing! You are incredibly talented

Dorothy said...

I love the cake and have posted a link to our local JASNA group. I have a couple of questions. You say the cake really doesn't need frosting, but it has it in the pictures. Looks like fondant. Is it? Also the recipe says to put the batter into one 12" pan, but you have two layers in the photo. Did you divide the batter into two pans? If so, what size did you use?

Mrs C 1963 said...

What a combo- my favorite author and a beautiful cake! what's not to love!

Central NJ JASNA said...

Loved this! We'll be sharing it on our blog on Monday.

Lynnea said...

Such a fantastic cake!

yummy-books.com said...

your literary-themed sweets are always my favorite, I just think you're the greatest!

michelle said...

what a beautiful cake! i love it!

Shirley said...

This is stunning and so impressive that you went with a Regency recipe! I'm sharing this URL with my Austen in Boston book club. We'll all drool over it together.

Kelly said...

Incredible cake :) Do you prefer using pastillage over fondant? Are they the same thing? Thank you :)

Pontos de Açúcar said...

Hello! Congratulations for your blog, it's amazing, and this cake is wonderfull!

Can you help me in a question: How did you print de text? What's the material?

Thank you so much!

Sofia

Anonymous said...

I love your cakes and photos -- tried the seven sins cake and it was great.
I wanted to note in the ingredients that
8 oz sugar is just a little over 1 cup
not 2 cups.
So I am not sure which is the amount you meant,
probably the 8 oz. Two cups of sugar seems like it would be way to sweet.

Anonymous said...

Same comment on the conversion in the simple syrup recipe.

SprinkleBakes said...

Could you please clarify?

From the cake recipe:
"1/2 lb. (2 cups) granulated sugar"

From the syrup recipe:
"1/4 lb. (1 cup) sugar"

Anonymous said...

Hi, I think 1/2 lb or 8 oz of sugar is only about 1 cup of sugar, not 2 cups. So I think the conversion is incorrect.
So I was wondering which you actually used in the cake
2 cups of sugar or you weighed it and used 8 oz.

Update-- i just went and weighed a cup of sugar to double check and I got 7.5 oz on the scale so
8 oz would be a little over a cup.

Anonymous said...

Hi -- not to belabor the point, maybe you were cutting and pasting with the measurements.
1/2 lb or 8 oz of flour is about (a little less)
than 2 cups
but 1/2 lb of sugar is about 1 cup since it
is denser.

Anonymous said...

I did not mean to appear rude, I love your cake recipes that
I've tried so far. I also just made the
raspberry bavarian cream cake for my husbands birthday. Everybody loved it. Our son even took a slice to his girlfriend!

SprinkleBakes said...

Not at all! It's been a while since I wrote this recipe, and yes! I see now that the weights are incorrect. Thanks for letting me know. Will fix in just a bit.

You are correct- the 8 oz (1 cup) is the correct amount.

x

Mary Decker said...

You celebrate life in a most special day. You are inspirational and very talented. Wow!

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