Elizabeth Karmel’s cookbook, Steak and Cake, explores two beloved mealtime classics: The mouth-watering steak and the oh-so-scrumptious cake. With over 100 recipes, the pairings in Steak and Cake aim to bring decadence to the dinner table for date night, a dinner party or any night you want. So get your steak knives sharpened and your mixers out for a flavor-packed meal you won’t forget.
The steak: Classic New York Steakhouse Strip with Beefsteak Tomatoes and Sizzling Thick Bacon and Onions.
A classic restaurant preparation, this delicious recipe tackles a true steak-lover favorite—the New York Strip—but is one that works well with any cut of meat. Described as the “kicked up” version of a basic grilled steak, this meal, with the addition of juice beefsteak tomatoes and sizzling slabs of bacon and onions, is bursting with flavor and will have guests ringing your doorbell eager for the recipe … or for one more bite.
The cake: POTUS Carrot Cake.
It looks like culinary talent runs in the family! Elizabeth Karmel’s cousin Carol was the chef for America’s thirty-eighth president, Gerald Ford, after he retired from the White House, and one of his favorite recipes was, you guessed it—her one-of-a-kind carrot cake! Once Carol moved away from the POTUS’s kitchen to the mountains of North Carolina, he begged her for the recipe, but she politely declined, as she only passes down recipes to family members. Luckily the recipe was given to Karmel, and is now being passed on to you, with the delicious addition of more carrots, nuts, and cherries to the batter and coconut to the frosting. Now you can serve a cake fit for a king—or president!
Classic New York Steakhouse Strip:
4 New York strip steaks (12 to 16 ounces each and about 1½ inches thick)
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, toasted in a skillet
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil
Beefsteak Tomato and Vidalia Onion Salad with Steak Sauce Dressing (see below)
Sizzling Thick Bacon and Onions (see below)
Grilling Method: Direct/Medium-High Heat
Special Equipment: Spice grinder
1. Preheat the grill with all burners on high. Once preheated, adjust the temperature to medium-high heat for direct grilling.
2. Wrap the steaks in paper towels to rid them of excess moisture. Replace the paper towels as needed.
3. Coarsely grind the peppercorns in a spice (or coffee) grinder; add the rosemary and grind again. Put the pepper and rosemary mixture in a small bowl and mix in the salt, mustard, and garlic.
4. Lightly brush the steaks with olive oil. Sprinkle the rub evenly and lightly on both sides of the steaks. (Too much rub will overseason the meat.)
5. Place the meat on the cooking grate directly over the fire. Cover, cook about 3 minutes for good grill marks, then turn the steaks. Grill for 6 minutes on the second side, then turn the steaks again and grill for 3 minutes more on the first side for medium-rare (135°F on an instant-read thermometer).
6. Remove the meat from the grill and place on a clean platter. Let the steaks rest for 5 minutes before serving with the tomato and onion salad and the bacon and onions.
7. Place the peppercorns in a small cold skillet. Turn the heat to low and let toast, shaking occasionally, until you can smell the aroma of the pepper, about 5 minutes. Don’t place over high heat, or the pepper will burn.
Sizzling Thick Bacon and Onions:
Serves: 4 to 6
1 pound best-quality slab bacon
¼ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
Leaves from 3 sprigs thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large sweet onions, peeled and cut into thick slices
Extra-virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Cut the bacon into ⅛-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle the slices liberally with half the sugar, half the thyme, and salt and pepper on both sides. Place them on a rack set on a sheet pan.
3. Toss the onion rings in olive oil and season with the remaining sugar, thyme, and salt. Place the onion rings on the rack with the bacon, if there is room. If there isn’t room, place on a rack set into a separate sheet pan.
4. Bake until the bacon is crisp and the onions are golden, about 40 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time. Drain on paper towels, then transfer to a serving platter.
Beefsteak Tomato and Vidalia Onion Salad with Steak Sauce Dressing:
Serves: 4 to 6
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup minced onion
3 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
¹/³ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
3 ripe beefsteak tomatoes, sliced ½ inch thick
1 large Vidalia onion, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick
Fine sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, tarragon, and/or parsley, for garnish (optional)
1. Make the dressing: Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Allow the sugar to dissolve in the vinegar and the liquids to come to a low boil. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in the remaining oil. Purée with an immersion blender, if desired. Let the dressing cool. When cold, pour it into a glass jar, cover, and refrigerate. It’s best served the next day when the flavors have even more of a chance to blend together.
3. Assemble the salad: Arrange the sliced tomatoes and Vidalia onion on a serving platter. Season both lightly with salt.
4. Shake the cold dressing and pour it over the tomatoes and onion. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs, if desired.
POTUS Carrot Cake:
Serves: 8 to 12
Baking spray, for preparing the pans
1¾ cups granulated white sugar
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as Crisco, or untoasted walnut oil
4 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
²⁄³ cup dried cherries or currants
1½ cups chopped walnuts (English or black walnuts)
4 cups hand-grated carrots
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, or more as needed
2 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream, or more as needed
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups Baker’s Sweetened Angel Flake Coconut
½ cup chopped walnuts (English or black walnuts)
Pans: Two 9-inch round cake pans or a 10-inch tube pan
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the cake pans with baking spray.
2 Make the cake: Beat the granulated sugar, oil, and eggs together with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy and light in color, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Stir the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix well. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl as necessary.
4. Fold in the dried cherries, 1½ cups walnuts, carrots, and pineapple, making sure they are well combined.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. If using layer pans, make sure the batter is evenly divided. Lightly tap each pan down on the counter to make sure the batter is evenly distributed and to remove excess air bubbles.
6. Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted in the thickest point comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes for layers and 1 hour for a tube cake.
7. Cool the layers in the pans for 10 minutes before removing them to wire cooling racks to cool completely.
8. Meanwhile, make the frosting: Cream the cream cheese, butter, and 3 cups confectioners’ sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of cream and the vanilla and mix well. If the frosting is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the frosting is too thick, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time. When it is the right consistency for spreading, divide the frosting equally between two bowls. Add about three-quarters of both the coconut and the walnuts to the frosting in one bowl and mix to combine. This will be the filling. Reserve the plain frosting and remaining coconut and walnuts for the top of the cake.
9. Assemble the cake: If making a layer cake, carefully trim a thin slice off the rounded tops of the 2 layers to even them out. Place 1 layer, bottom side up, on a serving plate. Spread the top with the filling. Place the second layer over the filling. Frost the top with the plain frosting and leave the sides unfrosted for a rustic look. Sprinkle the top with the remaining coconut and walnuts. (If you prefer to frost the entire cake, you may need to double the cream cheese frosting recipe, omitting the coconut and walnuts in the second batch.)
10. If making a tube cake, remove the cake from the pan. Invert the cake so it is top side up. For a rustic look, slice the entire cake in half horizontally and spread the cut side of the bottom half with a thick layer of filling before placing the top half back on the cake. Spread the top with the plain frosting and sprinkle with the remaining coconut and walnuts.
More About Steak and Cake:
Discover just how luscious and indulgent both steak and cake can be with Elizabeth Karmel, Southern baker extraordinaire and one of America’s leading pitmasters.
Not only will you find some of the best recipes ever for steak—and steakhouse sides and sauces—and those all-butter-eggs-and-sugar cakes, but you will also pick up tips and tricks for choosing and cooking steaks and baking cakes. The result is an instant dinner party, the kind of universally loved meal that makes any and every occasion special.