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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pistachio and Orange Liqueur Cake {Watergate Cake}



Okay, so raise your hand if you were alive when President Richard Nixon resigned?  How many of you watched his speech on TV?  Ah, even fewer...Okay, how many of you (or your parents) saved the newspaper announcing the resignation?  As I thought...Not a lot of you.

That's okay my friends, because we have the Watergate Cake to bring back that very pivotal time in political history.  And, just for the record: I can answer "yes" to each of those questions.  Yup, I'm that old.  :)  This single event in our history was my first real introduction into politics at a very young age.  We were living in Northern Virginia at the time of the Watergate Scandal and I was learning about U.S. History, so this had real meaning for me as a young history geek.  I'll never forget those times...

So, most of you don't know that I am a history geek.  Yeah, I read those really long and fairly dry presidential biographies and such.  The people on my commuter bus just roll their eyes when they see my books...I've received some flack for my geekness.  It could be worse...

This cake was developed by the folks at Jello when they introduced pistachio pudding.  The date coincided with the Watergate Scandal, so coming up with a name was pretty easy.  It's quite likely the only green cake widely known, but I think most folks have lost its original name.  So, pretty cool for me that this cake covers both my hobbies: the blog and reading history books...A true win-win for this geek.

Blog baking lore has it that this cake is so aptly named Watergate cake because Jello's pistachio cake was filled with nuts and covered in fluff much like the Nixon administration has been admonished.   Go ahead...Roll your eyes...
Watergate Complex, U.S. National Register on Historic Places
I really wanted to try a pistachio cake for a while, just sounded so good...This one is easy and the ingredients are simple.  I used salted pistachios which really added a huge pistachio flavor.  Very moist and holds up well to all that frosting. 

I used the ombre' frosting style that you see all over Pinterest.  I learned how to make the ombre' frosting from a video by Stephanie at 52 Kitchen Adventures (link below).  I highly recommend watching her video if you are a visual person, like me. 

You'll see this cake again sometime soon in its "scratch" version.  I bought myself a cookbook for my birthday this year: Vintage Cakes.  So, the cake is really "Part 1: Watergate Cake" with its "scratch" cousin coming soon. 




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Step-by-Step

Assemble your ingredients...I used triple sec and not a more expensive orange liqueur and I think it was just fine.  I've read that when baked there is little destinction in liqueurs.  This cake is SO easy, cuz it's a dump cake my friends!
On medium speed in a stand mixer, beat all ingredients except nuts for 2 minutes until well blended.
Fold in the nuts.
Finish by hand!
Pour into prepared pans.  I used 3 so that I'd have plenty of height.
Bake as directed and cool cake in pans for 20 min.
Loosen cake from the sides of pan and invert cake onto wire rack.  Flip cakes so that the parchment is on the bottom.  Do not remove the parchment.  Cool cake completely.
Prepare crumb coat for ombre' style frosting.  Place one layer on the cake stand and shimmy in strips of parchment paper.  Frost cake as with any layer cake.  Smooth the sides and top.  Refrigerate until set and ready to add the ombre' roses.
This "tool" is essential for frosting this cake ombre' style: disposable pastry bag.
Prepare the frosting as directed.  You will have 3 different green hues.  Portion as: 1/4 for dark green, 1/4 for medium green, and 1/2 for pale green.  Pipe roses starting with the dark green on the bottom layer.  Work up the sides with each lighter color, leaving the palest green for the top row and top.  
 
Remove to the refrigerator if too runny.  It's really important that the frosting is pliable, not stiff or runny.  If too stiff, the roses won't flow out of the tip; if too runny, the roses will run down the sides of the cake.  Trust me.

Keep the chilled cake with the crumb coat in the refrigerator until you are ready to frost.  You want a chilled cake so the frosting roses stick.
 
Place the dark green frosting in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.  Begin piping roses on the bottom layer.  Fill in gaps between roses on the bottom with a piped star.
Please, please take note: warm frosting on a warm cake...And, yes, I learned my lesson!

Fill another piping bag with the medium green and fit with the large star tip.  Pipe roses on the middle layer, filling in gaps with a piped star.
Ombre' frosting tip #2: alternate the roses so that they fill in the gaps.  Any remaing gaps, just fill with a pretty little star.

Fill the last piping bag with the palest green frosting and pipe roses on the last layer...
...and then the top of the cake.  Pipe the roses on the top starting from the outside.  Fill in any gaps with piped stars.
Refrigerate and when set carefully remove the parchment paper strips.
Garnish as desired. Sprinkles really do make everything taste better...Viole'!


Pistachio and Orange Liqueur Cake (AKA Watergate Cake)

1 pkg  (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
1 pkg  (3.4 oz) Pistachio Flavor Instant Pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cups water
1/2 cup Orange Liqueur
1/3 cup oil
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/2 cup pistachios, finally chopped

Frosting (enough for 3-layer 8” cake)
1 cup salted butter, room temp
2 tbsp Orange Liqueur
2 tbsp cream or half and half (milk)
1 tsp orange zest (optional)
Green food coloring or gel
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Corn syrup

Crumb coat (for ombre' style frosting)
1/2 cup salted butter, room temp
1 tbsp Orange Liqueur
1 tbsp cream or half and half (milk)
1/2 tsp orange zest (optional)
Green food coloring or gel
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Corn syrup

Garnish (optional)
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped coarsely
Sprinkles


Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Grease and flour three (3) 8” round cake pans/line with parchment paper (or use a pan of choice).**
3. On medium speed in a stand mixer, beat all ingredients except nuts with stand mixer for 2 minutes until well blended. Fold in the nuts.  Pour into prepared pans.
4. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Cool cake in pans for 20 min. Loosen cake from the sides of pan and invert cake onto wire rack.  Flip cakes so that the parchment is on the bottom.  Do not remove the parchment.  Cool cake completely.

Directions for Ombre' style frosting (watch 52 Kitchen Adventure's video tutorial)
Crumb coat 
1. Prepare crumb coat by creaming the butter for 30 seconds on medium speed in a stand mixer.  Add the liquids and slowly increase the speed to medium into you have almost an emulsion (not too long or the butter will get too warm).  Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated.  Beat on medium for 30 seconds.  Adjust consistency by adding corn syrup in 1 tbsp increments, beating on medium for 30 seconds after each addition.  Beat on medium high for 1 minute. 
2. Remove parchment paper from the bottom of each layer and place one layer on the cake stand and shimmy in strips of parchment paper.  Frost cake as with any layer cake.  Smooth the sides and top.  Refrigerate until set and ready to add the ombre' roses. 

Frosting
1. Prepare as above for crumb coat using enough green coloring to make pale green. 
2. Separate into 3 portions: 1/4 for dark green, 1/4 for medium green, and 1/2 for pale green.  Remove the pale green from bowl of mixer, set aside.  Add more green coloring to make the medium green.  Remove half to a bowl, set aside.  Add more green coloring to the last 1/4 portion to achieve the dark green shade. 
3. Remove to the refrigerator if too runny.  Really important that the frosting is pliable, not stiff or runny.  If too stiff, the roses won't flow out of the tip; if too runny, the roses will run down the sides of the cake.  {Trust me.}
4. Place the dark green frosting in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.  Begin piping roses on the bottom layer.  Fill in gaps between roses on the bottom with a piped star. 
5. Fill another piping bag with the medium green and fit with the large star tip.  Pipe roses on the middle layer, filling in gaps with a piped star.
6. Fill the last piping bag with the pale green frosting and pipe roses on the last layer and top of cake.  Pipe the roses on the top starting from the outside.  Fill in any gaps with piped stars.
7. Garnish as desired.

If not using the ombre' style of frosting, you will not need the crumb coat.  Just frost or pipe onto cake as desired.  Sprinkle with pistachios or sprinkles, if desired.

Variation:  Sprinkle cooled cake with confectioners’ sugar instead of frosting (if using Bundt/sheet pan). 

**  For Bundt pan, adjust baking time to 50-55 minutes.  If using a 13 x 9 inch pan, adjust baking time to 40-50 minutes.  For two 8” or 9” cake rounds, adjust baking time to 25-30 minutes.  (For 3 layers, reduce to 22 minutes.)  For cupcakes, reduce baking time to 18-20 minutes.

Alas, I did not get a picture of a piece of this cake.  I took it to work and shared with my co-workers and friends...Sans camera!  Drat!

Ellen
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9 comments:

  1. What a pretty cake! And, I'm old enough to remember Watergate really well; in fact I once had a design job at one of the condos, so I've been inside! I know this tastes as good as it looks--Pistachio and Orange Liqueur is a heavenly combination. Love, XOXO Me

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    1. Thanks, Susan! The frosting is not perfect, of course, but so much fun to make. :) I want to use this technique again, maybe for Valentine's Day? Very cool that your worked at The Watergate! Dad and I found the Washington Post that he saved a few years ago going through his stuff. Amazing that he's kept it this long. Thanks for coming by! Lv, me

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  2. You make this sound a lot better than the recipe and your decorative icing is lovely!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for coming by the blog and for sharing your Watergate cake recipe from your grandmother! I love how you show the recipe cards in your posts. And, this cake is good, very moist and full of pistachio flavor. The hint on orange is a nice surprise. I didn't use the soda pop that was in your grandmother's/Jells' recipe, so I think this isn't as sweet.

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  3. It's so pretty! I, sadly, only remember watergate from watching All the Presidents Men. :)

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    1. Thanks, Dorothy! I think you were barely alive when Nixon resigned if memory serves...I've never seen that movie, but really should. Someday I'm sure I'll read about the scandal. Right now, I'm firmly entrenched in 19th century presidents. :)

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  4. Yep I remember the speech :(
    What a pretty decorating job.
    Very lovely looking cake.

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  5. I finally had a go at this recipe for my new Baking With Spirit: Spotlight feature - really great recipe, though I had to adapt it a bit for UK supermarkets!

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