Last year, Karen and I participated in a program called the Parent Leadership Training Institute, or PLTI as we know and love it. PLTI isn't a program to teach people how to be better parents; instead, it's a 20-week program about teaching parents to be better advocates for children. Our class was made up of an amazing cross section of people: parents, grandparents, teachers, community leaders, all of us taught and guided by three great facilitators (the almost Andrews Sisters: Patti, Laverne, and Bruce).
For our class last year, I baked from time to time. I probably should have baked more. When this year's class ramped up, Karen and I were both ready to give something back. Karen has helped out with setup. I baked coffee cakes for the class's first session, a daylong retreat. Then I made something for their first regular class. And the second. And so on. Baking for this year's class has been a pleasure. (The good orange cake I made last week was for PLTI.)
Last night, Karen and I were guests at last night's PLTI session (week nine) about the media. (Last year, we took over the media class. Despite that transgression, we were invited back to offer our insights.)
For last night's treat, I brought a Milky Way Cake. It's a recipe from Baking from the Heart, a collection of dessert recipes from top chefs and pastry chefs; a portion of the proceeds from sales of the book benefited Share Our Strength, a charity devoted to anti-hunger programs. Milky Way Cake is a recipe passed along by Jane and Michael Stern of Roadfood fame. When I first got the cookbook, the recipe caught my eye I think out of sheer goofiness more than anything. Every time I make this cake, I wonder what possessed someone to melt four Milky Way candy bars with a stick of butter and use them as an ingredient. In all fairness, the cake is essentially a caramel cake (the melted ingredients are a big glop of buttery chocolate caramel). Because this cake batter's volume is small enough and lightly leavened (only 1/4 teaspoon baking soda), I was able to use my 10-cup cathedral Bundt pan and not have to worry about batter overflow.
In the end, the cake turned out great, and it looked really impressive, too. I only wish I'd remembered to sprinkle it with a bit of powdered sugar. On the plus side, I had a photo backdrop: a beautiful piece of blue and gold cloth, part of Patti's cloth collection. I enjoyed the chance to see the PLTI class enjoy the cake, then guess what it contained. Many tasters detected notes of maple, but I think everyone was surprised to discover the secret ingredient.
Here's a recipe for Milky Way Cake. It's very similar to the one from the book.
Milky Way Cake
Makes 1 9-in. Bundt cake
4 (2.1 ounce) bars Milky Way
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups white sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans (preferably toasted)
Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour one 9-in. Bundt pan. Melt candy bars and 1/2 cup of the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Let cool. Cream remaining 1/2 cup butter or margarine with the sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one. Add buttermilk alternately with flour and soda to egg mixture. Add vanilla and melted candy mixture and mix until smooth. Fold in chopped pecans and pour into the prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 50-60 min. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto wire rack to cool.