Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cake of the Week: Chocolate Layer Cake with Pecan Pie Custard and Maple Buttercream

This weekend was pretty low-key for me: I lounged, I went out at night, and I baked excessively. Maybe that wasn’t the best use of my 3 days off…but I’m pretty pleased with the results!

I got a little bit of non-DC-bar-scene-culture in on Sunday night. I attended a French New Wave Film Night chez LOTR-Emily. We watched Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie (1962), one of the best examples of the New Wave films that drew upon the cinéma vérité approach to documentary film-making that was popular in the 1960s.

Like many foreign films, not very much actually happens onscreen, but the magic of Godard is that he still manages to keep his viewers engaged. Of course while watching we avons mangé a baguette and brie, plus some délicieuses homemade madelines.

Anywho, back to the baking! One of my housemates is moving to Brazil at the end of the week, so last night we bade him bon voyage with a house dinner. I asked him his dessert preference and he said he likes pecan pie. Of course, being myself, a) I don’t like making pie, and b) I wanted to make it more creative. So I mulled the possibilities over in my head and came up with this: Chocolate Layer Cake with Pecan Pie Custard and Maple Buttercream. Whaaaa BAM! Now that is a cake.

It’s so tall it almost didn’t fit under my cake dome!

I made my Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe in 3 layers (this is the same cake from Sister1’s wedding cupcakes). Then I made the filling, and refrigerated it for a few hours. Then I assembled the layers and the filling, covered it in plastic wrap, and let it chill in the fridge overnight. Finally, the next day I made the frosting (which was originally from my Cranberry Maple Walnut Cupcakes) and finished it off with a flourish!

Though it looks beyond intense, this cake is actually very balanced. The custard isn't too sweet, so it works nicely with the dense chocolate cake and the super-sweet buttercream. 

The Easiest Chocolate Cake (from Joy the Baker, and it's vegan)
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 cups cold water

Preheat oven to 350*, and grease and flour three 8- or 9-inch round pans.

In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, water, vanilla extract and vinegar.
Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients being careful not to overmix. The mixture will be quite wet, but that's ok.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cup comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then place on a wire rack until completely cool before frosting.

Pecan Custard Filling (adapted from AllRecipes)
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1 ½ cup half-and-half cream
¼ cup dark corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cup chopped pecans

In a large saucepan, combine 1/2 cup brown sugar and cornstarch. Stir in 4 egg yolks, half-and-half, 3/4 cup corn syrup and salt. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Continue boiling, whisking constantly for 1 minute, or until thickened. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter and vanilla and pecans. Chill for at least 2 hours.

Maple Buttercream
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp maple syrup
2-ish Tbsp milk (as needed)
Cream butter and sugar until blended. Add maple syrup. Add milk as needed until frosting reaches desired consistency.

I almost experienced a cake disaster of epic proportions! I started making my frosting and pulled out a bag of what appeared to be powdered sugar out of my cupboard. For some reason, I thought twice before putting it in (and thank God I did!) so I did a little taste-test. Blegh! It was cake flour! Can you imagine how disgusting that would have been??? 

Luckily I avoided calamity and the cake turned out deliciously!