Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Cherpumple...errr...Chersweetby?

Brownie here!  It's been a very busy few months for me so most of my baking went unphotographed, but next week is the boyfriend's 26th birthday and after I had told him of the existence of the
His favorite color is green
, he told me he would request one every year until I made him one.  Now, I live by myself, and consuming the remainder of 3 pies and 3 cakes sounded like an insane feat, so I sought to make a mini version of the cherpumple, something a few people could manageably eat.

For those of you who don't know, the cherpumple is a monstrous creation, 3 layers of pie (cherry, pumpkin, and apple, respectively)-stuffed-in-cake.  These things are ginormous.  I decided to use a birthday gift from the boyfriend's sister, this cute tiered cake pan, and make a smaller version.  Normally I do from-scratch baking, but a paper deadline and the enormity of this task required a few compromises...

To make my version, you'll need:

1 4-inch cherry pie (I bought mine from the freezer section because I only had so many tiny pie tins)

Clockwise from left--sweet potato, Kentucky Derby, and cherry
Ingredients for Joe Pastry's Pumpkin Pie, subbing sweet potato for the pumpkin puree, subbing evaporate milk for both the milk and the cream, and scaling it up by 25% if you want to make a spare pumpkin pie, or making only 1/4 of the recipe if you just want the mini ones.

Ingredients for Joe Pastry's Kentucky Derby Pie (I ended up using 1.5 pie crusts for this because using smaller containers contains less volume per crust amount)

1 box yellow/vanilla cake mix, plus the eggs/oil/water it calls for
Spices of your choice (I used 1 Tbl cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp cloves)
Chocolate pudding mix/cocoa-sugar blend (to turn vanilla cake into chocolate; pure cocoa just gets too bitter).

1.5 cups butter, softened
~3 cups powdered sugar
1.5 tsp salt
2/3 cup dark spiced rum

Two days ahead, make the pumpkin pies.  I used something like these mini ramekins that I bought at an estate sale ages ago.  They're a bit deep-dish but that works out well for the cake pan.  Obviously in the small pans they bake a lot faster--mine were done in 10-15 minutes.  Put cooled pies in the freezer.  Eat the big one if you made it--it's a great recipe.

One day ahead, make the Kentucky Derby pies.  I baked these in tartlet pans (I bought mine on Amazon from Fox Run; you want to use ones without a false bottom unless you're really confident in your pie crust since syrup pies can leak) and again shortened the baking time.  Freeze the cooled pies.

Leave some space for them to rise!
The day of, make the cake mix according to the package directions, and divide it into 3 bowls, but not evenly--one bowl should have about 1/5 of the batter (this will be chocolate), and the remaining two will split what's left, with a little extra going to the plain flavor (the medium amount is for the spice cake).

Add the spices of your choice to the spice one, and the chocolate putting mix or cocoa-sugar blend to the chocolate (to taste), and prep your pan by cutting out solid circles for the bottom tier and rings for the upper 2 tiers. You could also spray and flour the pan thoroughly.

Cut the frozen cherry pie into 4 wedges (no more than 1 inch in diameter). Drop a wedge inside each cavity, and top with the chocolate batter. Repeat with the pumpkin and the spice batter, and then finally top with the Kentucky Derby pie and yellow batter (careful not to overfill).  Conveniently, the chocolate batter will be the thickest, so you shouldn't have much trouble with things blending together--my layers were quite distinct.

The glory shot
Bake according to the package directions, and test by springiness rather than a toothpick so you don't misinterpret pie goo as raw batter.  Let cool thoroughly and then invert for 1 hour or so, hoping that the cakes fall out. They might break into the 3 layers but that just gives you more opportunity for frosting.  Refrigerate (or if you want to do a crumb coat, freeze) until ready to frost.

To make the frosting, reduce 1/2 cup of rum in a pan by half, while blending the softened butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar. Alternate the reduced rum and remaining sugar, and then whip in the un-reduced rum (replacing the milk in a normal buttercream). Try to get the buttercream as airy as possible (using whisk attachment) since the cake is so rich.

Frost the cakes (I did a crumb coat and then froze again), then slice carefully and wow all your friends!