Monday, February 8, 2010

Cake of the Week: Birthday Cake with Butterscotch and Chocolate Frosting

Oh my gosh...this might just be too much - ANOTHER snow day!!! That's right, dun dun dun...the Great Weekend continues! The US Government is shut down; thus, yet again, I blog from the comfort of my bed. I LOVE snow. I LOVE the road/work difficulties it causes. Basically, I LOVE DC!!!

Phew. And you all already know that I LOVE cake:On Friday (the first day of the Great Weekend), I awoke to a day
sans work, and thought hmmm...cake. Yes. My original plan was to make a colorful Africa cake in honor of Baking Cakes in Kigali, but unfortunately there was no food coloring in the greater Dupont I had to change my plans.

Usually I'm a chocolate cake fan, but I thought I'd branch out and go for a traditional yellow cake. Yellow cake via Smitten Kitchen, plus butterscotch filling (I just can't get enough of this stuff!), plus chocolate frosting.

Mmmmm, a slice of that cake plus coffee and a book is the perfect way to spend a snowy afternoon!6x6 plopped down on my couch to oversee the cake-baking process (and by "oversee," I mean lick the bowl, eggbeaters, and any stray spoons). For the Butterscotch Filling I boiled the sugar, mixed in the cream, and whisked-whisked-whisked.

"So Mollie, when do you add in the butterscotch?" inquired 6x6, fingers hovering dangerously over boiling sugar.

That's it! Sugar, cream, and butter - that is the butterscotch.

"Oh my goodness. That's magical!" she mused, an awestruck look on her face. I agree - something about the way the filling whips into a light and fluffy creamy goodness really is magical.

For the cake itself: Smitten Kitchen's yellow cake recipe makes a TON of cake: 9 inches around, and 4 inches tall. That's some
serious cake. Rather than making an insanely tall layer cake (like last week's), I opted to make two cakes. One went to my roommates (they love me, as they should), and the other I brought to a Super Bowl party (chips, dip, cake. That's my kind of party!).

Best Yellow Layer Cake (from Smitten Kitchen)

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers, and, in theory, 22 to 24 cupcakes, two 8-inch squares or a 9×13 single-layer cake

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (I like to drop mine a few times from two inches up, making a great big noisy fuss.) Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Butterscotch Filling:

¾ cup heavy cream

¾ cup sugar

¼ tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 – 1 oz. pieces

¾ cup chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts

- To make the filling, heat the cream in a saucepan over medium-low heat until hot (do not allow to boil or simmer). Combine sugar and lemon juice in a separate saucepan and stir with a whisk to combine (the sugar will resemble moist sand). Caramelize the sugar for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a whisk to break up any lumps.

- Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the hot cream, one half at a time. Add the butter, one piece at a time, stirring to incorporate completely before adding the next piece.

- Cool in the refrigerator 45 minutes. Place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachments and beat on high speed for 2 minutes, until light (but nor fluffy).

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

2/3 cup
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.
Yield: About 2 cups frosting.