Sweet & Salty Millionaire’s Layer Cake

Hello, hello! After many, many months of devoted book creating, I’m excited to be back here with you, blogging on a regular basis! I’m also incredibly eager to share my book with you all, once it’s printed and released–it has been, wow, an incredible learning experience. It’s still kind of surreal to me that a book with my name on it will actually exist. A dream come true, for certain.

So . . . cake! And not just cake–the most decadent sweet & salty cake you could ever imagine. I call this layer cake “Sweet & Salty Millionaire’s Layer Cake” because it is my take on those ridiculously addicting Millionaire’s Bars–you know the ones: buttery shortbread topped with gooey caramel and a layer of rich, shiny chocolate. If that doesn’t beg to become a layer cake, I don’t know what does.

So I baked up 3 layers of dark, moist chocolate cake, torted them into a total of 6 thinner layers, and then filled them with vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream, homemade salted caramel, buttery shortbread crumble and dark chocolate ganache frosting. To finish it off, we smother the whole thing in a generous layer of more dark chocolate ganache frosting and a sprinkling of Fleur de Sel. I find that the satiny vanilla bean buttercream really balances out the intensity of the dark chocolate and sweet and salty caramel, and the shortbread adds an amazing melt-in-your-mouth textural surprise.

The ganache frosting is essentially a typical ganache (an emulsion of dark chocolate and heavy cream), but with some corn syrup and butter added in to keep it luscious and glossy and a pinch of sea salt to celebrate our love for sweet & salty.  I used a really dark chocolate this time, at 70% cocoa solids, but you could use any quality dark chocolate with at least 53% cocoa solids. I was almost out of the usual dark chocolate callets I love to use from Callebaut, so I bought 2 ginormous (300 grams each) premium chocolate bars, chopped them up and tossed in 100 grams of the chocolate callets I had left. With the super-sweetness of the caramel, I love the deep, dark chocolate frosting.

The 3-ingredient shortbread component is so quick and easy, and these bits & boulders of buttery love are just what this cake needed to really pay homage to the Millionaire’s Bars it was inspired by. Heck, they would even make an amazing little ice cream topping, along with the salted caramel perhaps? The salted caramel is so much easier to make than you might think and, as you might imagine, it can be used for so many things–pancakes, waffles, dipping apples, and more. You don’t have to “salt” it, but I feel it really heightens the natural caramel flavour and added vanilla.

One thing I’ve discovered is that when making ganache of any kind, an immersion hand blender (you know, the “stick” type hand blenders) works best to create perfectly homogenous ganache that won’t threaten to separate and become grainy. You can certainly use a whisk, but if you have an immersion blender I feel it works just that much better. I included 2 layers of ganache in the cake layers because I felt that 5 layers of caramel could be a little much, but maybe I’m crazy. So you could always keep the ganache as the frosting and fill all of the layers with the buttercream, caramel and shortbread. I’m thinking there’s no wrong way of doing this, you know?

So, here’s the recipe for this sweet & salty Millionaire’s Layer Cake along with a quick list of the layer-pattern of this cake:

cake
buttercream + caramel + shortbread
cake
ganache
cake
buttercream + caramel + shortbread
cake
ganache
cake
buttercream + caramel + shortbread
cake

Millionaire’s Layer Cake

Yield: One 6-layer, 8-inch round cake

Dark moist chocolate cake filled with satiny vanilla bean buttercream, homemade salted caramel, buttery shortbread crumble, dark chocolate ganache and frosted with more ganache and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Ingredients

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  • 2 1/4 cups (285 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups (450 g) superfine sugar
  • 3/4 cup (90 g) dark Dutch-process cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (10 g) baking soda
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (10 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (8 g) salt
  • 1 cup (240 mL) buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) brewed coffee or espresso, hot
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoons (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 3/4 cups (350 g) sugar
  • 2 cups (454 g) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean, seeded and scraped
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Salted Caramel:
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • Generous pinch of sea salt (I used Fleur de Sel)
  • For the Shortbread Crumbs:
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • For the Ganache Frosting:
  • 1 pound plus 6 ounces (700 g) best-quality dark chocolate (at least 53% cocoa solids), chopped or callets
  • 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 1/3 cup (110 g) corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 tablespoons (120 g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds.
  2. Into the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large measuring cup with a spout, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, eggs and vanilla.
  4. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Divide batter among the 3 cake pans (weigh batter for even layers at about 520 grams per cake pan).
  5. Bake 2 of the layers until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs, about 20-25 minutes. Try not to over-bake. Repeat with the final layer. Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack until completely cool.
  6. For the Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  7. Wipe the bowl and whisk of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 130°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot, about 8-10 minutes.
  8. Place bowl back on mixer and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes, or longer). Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). Increase speed to medium and beat until the mixture becomes thick and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add vanilla bean paste and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
  10. You can also add a wide variety of flavourings, extracts, and more, but always add the vanilla first, as it brings out the true taste of the other flavours. Keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, refrigerated for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature. Bring chilled buttercream back to smooth consistency by bringing to room temperature and then beating on low speed with an electric mixer for a few minutes.
  11. For the Salted Caramel:
  12. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar and water until combined. Brush down the sides of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush and increase the heat to medium-high.
  13. Stop stirring, and let the mixture bubble until it reaches an amber colour (about 350°F). Promptly remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the heavy cream (be careful, as this will bubble and steam aggressively for a moment) until smooth, followed by the butter.
  14. Clip a candy thermometer onto the saucepan and return the mixture to medium-high heat until it reaches 248°F). Transfer the caramel to the heatproof bowl and stir in the vanilla and sea salt. As the caramel reaches room temperature it will become thick and spreadable. Store in a sealed jar in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  15. For the Shortbread Crumbs:
  16. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
  17. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or your fingers, until you have distributed the butter and achieved pea-size bits. Turn the mixture in an even layer onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and, using a heatproof spatula, gently break up the mixture and return to the oven for 10 more minutes. Let tray cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool, keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
  18. For the Ganache Frosting:
  19. Place chopped chocolate (or callets) in a large heatproof mixing bowl (I find a stainless 5QT mixer bowl works well).
  20. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, corn syrup and salt and bring just to a boil. Pour hot cream mixture over the chocolate and let sit for about 1 minute. Using an immersion blender (or whisk, if necessary) combine the chocolate mixture until smooth. Add butter and vanilla and mix again until smooth. Mixture with thicken to spreadable frosting consistency, and eventually become solid at room temperature. To soften, simply warm and bring to desired consistency.
  21. Assembly of the Sweet & Salty Millionaire's Layer Cake:
  22. Prepare your fillings and frosting and ensure they are all at spreadable consistency. For the ganache, this will take about 15-30 minutes after making it, and about 30-60 minutes for the caramel. If you have made ahead, simply warm the ganache and let cool until spreadable, and do the same for the caramel.
  23. Slice all three cake layers in half horizontally, so you have a total of 6 cake layers.
  24. Smear a small dollop of the ganache frosting on a cake plate, pedestal or cake board, and place your first layer cut side up (so bottom of the cake layer is touching plate), and using a small offset palette knife, spread about 1 cup of buttercream on the layer leaving about 1-inch around the edge, followed by one-third of the caramel and then a generous handful of shortbread crumble. Place your next cake layer on top, and spread about 1 cup of the ganache frosting all the way to the edge.
  25. Repeat previous step until you get to the final cake layer. Place last layer face down (cut side down) and frost entire cake with the ganache frosting. Let sit for about 15 minutes and then finish with a thick "coat" of more ganache frosting.
  26. Use a turntable and palette knife to create texture (as in photo)--use one hand to turn the turntable and hold the palette knife in the other hand. Keep palette knife in place and let the turntable do the moving. Use a small offset palette knife to create texture on the top of the cake and sprinkle on some Fleur de Sel. Finished cake can be kept at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Keep refrigerated if longer than 8 hours, but serve at room temperature.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • For the chocolate cake layers, I used Cacao Barry Extra Brute Dutch-process cocoa powder, but you can use any quality dark Dutch-process variety of your choice.
  • I have become rather fond of using vanilla bean paste instead of actual vanilla beans, as it’s convenient and more affordable.
  • When you make the ganache frosting, you’ll notice that it’s a bit jiggly and gelatinous looking as it sets, but as soon as you being to spread it, it becomes smooth, glossy and glorious.
  • Most cake does best at room temperature in terms of staying moist and fresh, but when it comes to building layer cakes, sometimes there’s no choice but to pop it in and out of the fridge a few times to stabilize it (especially when you get into sky-scraping layer cakes). That being said, I recommend only putting most cakes the fridge between the crumb coat and final coat of frosting, or if you feel that things are getting a little wobbly and you want to firm it up before carrying on. For this cake, I didn’t refrigerate it at all, so you will likely find that you won’t need to either. I was able to avoid the fridge between the crumb coat and final coat of ganache frosting because it begins to dry out at room temperature, sealing all of the crumbs.

Good luck & enjoy!

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Flamingo Pink Mixer Giveaway!

Flamingo Pink Mixer

Happy, Happy Love Day, friends!

I’m excited to tell you that you will be seeing a lot more of me around here in about 3 weeks, as I finish up the all of the photography for my book. Once the photography has been submitted, I look forward to blogging like a crazy woman. I’ve missed you! It’s been a crazy year, working on this book, but I’m so eager to see it all come together–I can’t wait to share it with you (even a sneak peek!).

So to say thank you for being so patient with my absence, and because it’s the pinkest day of the year, I thought I would give away a  Kitchenaid 4.5 Qt Stand Mixer in this amazing Flamingo Pink shade, to one lucky reader!

Flamingo Pink KitchenAid Mixer

While the giveaway details are the same as always, I’m trying out a new system for managing the giveaway, so it should be as smooth as can be to enter. xo

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, and I hope you’re being adored to smithereens today!

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Best-Loved Bakers’ Gifts 2013 + a Giveaway! {Winner Announced}

The winner of the Best-Loved Bakers’ Gifts 2013 Giveaway is . . .

#2778 Melissa Davison: “ERMEHGERD! That is the exact color of mixer I have been pining for for ages! My kitchen is all vintage pastels so this would be perfect! Anyway, I’m not a holiday celebrator for religious reasons, but I will say that whenever that time of year comes around, I get to craving some serious pie! Every week for months, I’ve been making a few and passing them around to family and friends. I think this week will be German Chocolate Pie!”

Congratulations, Melissa ! You will also be notified by email.

I’ll be back soon with another recipe!

. . .

Sweetapolita's Best-Loved Bakers' Gifts 2013

1. Candy Shop Apron 2. Mixer Tees 3. Frosted Donut Ornaments 4. Pistachio KitchenAid Artisan Mixer 5. Modern Love Cake Topper  6. Handmade Cake Sign 7. At the Patisserie Print

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 8. The Secret Lives of Baked Goods 9. Cupcake Soaps 10. Mosser Jadeite Cake Stand 11. Merry Pinkmas Polish 12. Bakers’ Twine 13. Baked With Love Tags   14. Fox Run Retro Kitchen Timer

Yay for pretty baking stuff!

Happy December, everyone! First I just want to tell you that I’m so close to my book manuscript due date, which can only mean one thing: frequent blogging again. And of course it means I’ll be even closer to sharing my actual book with you. It’s been quite a journey, to say the least. I wish I could tell you all about the recipes you’ll find inside, but alas we’ll keep that a secret. Let’s just say it will be my heart and soul . . . in print. And a lot of butter and sugar! So what I’m trying to say is thank you so much for being patient. I know my presence has been sporadic, but I’m here. xo

So from presence to presents, let’s get back to these holiday gifts. With the holidays, well, here (eek!), I want to share some of my favourite baker gift ideas with you and, yep, you guessed it: one lucky reader is going to WIN one of everything! 

Let’s talk a little bit more about all of this prettiness . . .

Sweetapolita Loves: 

1. Candy Shop Aprons: As you probably guessed, I have a thing for aprons, but I think every baker does. But I think it’s one of those things that people have a hard time buying themselves, yet they’re so useful. I’m always scrambling for a nice, clean ready-to-mess apron among my kitchen linens, and the pretty ones always get chosen first. I adore this pink polka-dotted Marilyn Strawberry Shortcake Apron from Flirty Aprons. If pink’s not your thing, it also comes in mint green, black and more. So pretty.

2. Handmade Mixer Tees: I just came across these a few weeks ago, and I think they are the cutest. These Mixer Tees from Caustic Threads on Etsy are hand printed, and come in everything from baby onesies to adult tees, and you can choose your own colours. Love these.

3. Frosted Donut Ornaments: I’m pretty certain I don’t need to explain why these are awesome, but aren’t they? Our Christmas tree is adorned with plenty a baked-good ornament, and it brings me great happiness every time I look at them. You can find these charming Frosted Donut Ornaments, along with countless other sweet-themed ornaments (think chocolate cream pie, banana splits and blueberry pie, to name a few), on Trendy Tree. If sugar’s not your thing, how about a shimmery pickle, t-bone steak, or watermelon-wedge ornament? They’ve got ‘em.

4. Pastel KitchenAid Mixer: Okay, so we all love them, but they do make for an ambitiously generous gift. But what about giving a gift card towards your baker-recipient’s favourite mixer? My current obsession is this minty Pistachio Green shade, but KitchenAid’s Artisan Mixer collection offers almost any colour you can dream of. (Of all of the shops that sell them, online or otherwise, I find Target has the best price.)

5. Modern Love Cake Topper: Love is right! I’m in utter love with this entire dessert topper collection–a collaboration between the fabulous Sweet & Saucy Shop and the talented Little Cat Design Co. Choose between wood or any of the gorgeous acrylic colour options, for a completely custom topper. (I’ll take one in every shade, please.) These are so lovely!

6. Handmade “Cake” Sign: Over the past many months, I’ve been collecting cakey props for my book photos, and I think this might be my favourite of all (and I mean ALL, #runningoutofspace #andmoney). You can order it in one of many colour choices, and either use it as a dessert table decoration, hang it on your wall or . . . tuck it into bed with you at night. No matter what you do with it, it’s so cute. I got the turquoise one here, but I also ordered a different one from here. You can find several versions of these on Etsy. (Supporting handmade just feels good, and those folks on Etsy make such great stuff!)

7. Patisserie Print: Why not give the gift of dessert-themed art? Etsy boasts many talented artists, so options are a plenty, but my heart belongs to A Fanciful Twist. Vanessa Valencia brings her sense of whimsy and magic to every piece she does (and she clearly has a thing for sweets). This print, “At the Patisserie” hangs in my bedroom, and it is still my favourite.

♥ ♥ ♥

8. Baking Books: For some reason, the more baking books we get, there’s always room for another–especially when it’s as charming and delightful as Jessie Oleson Moore’s latest book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods. Sure, the web is a bountiful land of online recipes and such, but there’s nothing like holding a beautiful baking book in your hands, turning the crisp pages, taking it all in and feeling instantly inspired. I’m convinced pretty baking books will always be a best-loved gift for a baking enthusiast. Always.

9. Cakey Soaps: Lusciously scented and beyond adorable, dessert-themed soaps make for a wonderful bakers’ holiday gift idea, stocking stuffer or hostess gift. I found these little cuties on Etsy (yep, Etsy rocks), and they are irresistible.

10. Jadeite Cake Pedestal: What is it with us bakers and vintagey cake stuff? Jadeite is so charming and nostalgic that it makes for the perfect little cake stand. Mosser Glass is known for their gorgeously crafted pedestals, and I’m rather addicted to them. Although they come in pink, blue, white, yellow and more, the Jadeite Cake Stand is a must-have. So darn sweet.

11. Merry Pinkmas Nail Polish: Need I say more? I love K.B. Shimmer polishes. So many sprinkles and sparkles! Pair that with cute-as-heck names and gorgeous shades, these make for a unique and rather awesome gift. My current obsession is the holiday pink shade: Merry Pinkmas.

12. Holiday Baker’s Twine: With so many amazing colour options of baker’s twine out there, it makes for a wonderful gift. What baker doesn’t love twirling and whirling colourful twine around cake boxes and such? It’s functional and beyond charming. It also makes for a perfect little add-on to any gift, or of course an ideal stocking stuffer. Right now I’m loving this white & minty green shade.

13. Baking Gift Tags: See that’s the thing with giving to bakers–they’re always giving too. There’s nothing better than a homemade batch of holiday treats packaged with a pretty little tag. These make for handy (and pretty-as-can-be) little gifts, so bakers can share their goodies in style all year long. I fell for these Baked With Love Tags. Give’em or use ‘em yourself–either way they’re a must-have. (And they’d be perfect with the minty baker’s twine!)

14.  Retro Magnetic Kitchen Timer: Every baker needs a timer (or plenty), and this one is everything a timer should be: useful, pretty and magnetic. I have this in Retro Kitchen Timer, but it also come in an array of colours. This would make for a handy and handsome hostess gift, stocking stuffer or more.

So wait! Before you run off to holiday shop, here’s what one lucky reader is going to receive:

*All prizes with the exception of the Modern Love Topper are courtesy Sweetapolita. Modern Love Topper courtesy Sweet & Saucy. 

TO ENTER:

To enter this giveaway, simply answer the following question in the comments section of this post:

What is your favourite holiday treat? I’d love to know!

  • For an extra entry, come over to Facebook and “like” Sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry. If you already like Sweetapolita on Facebook, just come back and leave a comment telling me that. *Comments on Facebook itself aren’t entries (although I love your FB comments!). Your comment has to be here in the comments section, as that is where the random winner is chosen.
  • For an additional entry share the Sweetapolita Facebook Giveaway post on your own Facebook page, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.
  • For an additional entry, share this post on Twitter and include @sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.

THE RULES:

  • One entry per person, plus additional qualified bonus entries (mentioned above). Your comment may take a few moments to appear.
  • Winners will be announced Thursday, December 12th, 2013.

Best of luck & happy gifting!

Good luck & enjoy!

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Sugar & Spice Delight Cake

verybfullcakebright

Well it seems that, somehow, between hours of mad baking, book writing, recipe testing and getting my cakelets back to school, it became autumn. I’m pretty sure it was summer last time I looked out the window, but nope–not so much! And when there are crisp winds, changing leaves and backpacks, my head and heart naturally say it’s time for sugary, spicy, pumpkiny baked delights . . .

And although I was certain that the Autumn Delight Cake from last year was my go-to for towering sugar and spice cravings, I decided to go for a true pumpkin version and then switch up the fillings and frostings. Tradition pumpkin pie is one of my favourite desserts of all time, and covered in real whipped cream and sprinkles of cinnamon and sugar is the ultimate. But to me, where there is cinnamon there should be gooey cinnamon buns. My heart is divided!

So this cake is an ode to my love for pumpkin pie, cinnamon buns and, well, cake.

fullcakeside540

So what is the Sugar & Spice Delight Cake exactly?

Well, it’s 6 thin layers of moist pumpkin and crystallized-ginger cake topped with a layer of super-cinnamony and buttery Cinnamon Sugar Spread Filling (think the middle of a Cinnabon), which is then topped with fluffy-as-air Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream and then the layered cake is covered in that cream-cheesy, sugary frosting fluffiness that usually adorns those beloved Cinnabons. Oh and some cinnamon and sugar sprinkled whipped cream poofs on top never hurts either. So I guess what I’m trying to say it you must bake this cake! Bake it, eat it, share it, marry it. I’m certain you won’t regret any of those decisions.

I actually made this cake twice for this post. The first time I found it had too much pumpkin puree and too much crystallized ginger, so I did the whole thing again (while my husband shook his head with utter confusion), and that was that. Guys, honestly, it really came together in taste the way I hoped, and it is really is a sugar and spice delight. It is decadent, but the whipped cream filling is so light and airy that it really balances it out.

brightcakeslice

Yep.

So more specifically, the pumpkin & ginger cake layers are essentially the sweet potato cake layers (minus the sweet potato and add the pumpkin) from my Autumn Delight Cake, the Fluffy Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting is from my Cinnabon-Style Gourmet Cinnamon Buns, and the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Filling is that found in many of my cakes (I love this stuff). The Cinnamon Sugar Spread, though, is something that is really simple yet goodness-me, so amazing. Who knew melted butter, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla could be so awesome? Actually, I think we all knew that, but I just never thought to spread it in my cakes until now. You can also smother it on pancakes, waffles, toast . . . spouses. Anything.

As a side note, I know some of you have had issues in the past with getting the Whipped Cream Filling recipe to come together, so I’ve modified it slightly for ease. You shouldn’t have any issues now! We add less confectioners’ sugar and sprinkle it in once the whipped cream begins to thicken, so basically we’re just whipping cream (in a super cold stainless bowl) before adding the confectioners’ sugar and stabilizing gelatine mixture.

Stabilized whipped cream makes the most amazing filling because, like I mentioned above, it’s light as air and not sweet at all. It can also stand the weight of the layers, which comes in handy! I turn to this often when I want to include other really sweet elements into the cake, and as much as I love sweet frosting, I find it too much when it’s both inside and outside the cake. You know? It’s also great when you want to pipe whipped cream on top of a cake, as it will remain stable for days (in the fridge, of course).

So, let’s make this cake!

November 28th, 2013 Note: I’ve increased the flour for the cake layers, to ensure the cake doesn’t get over-taken by the pumpkin’s moisture. There shouldn’t be any trouble with this issue now.

December 31st, 2013: I’ve also decreased the pumpkin puree, so the cake should bake up nicely and not be over-powered by the pumpkin.

Sugar & Spice Delight Cake

Yield: One 6-layer, 8-inch round cake

6 layers of moist pumpkin & ginger cake smothered in buttery cinnamon sugar and filled with vanilla bean whipped cream and frosted in Cinnabon-style cream cheese vanilla frosting.

Ingredients

    For the Pumpkin Ginger Cake:
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/4 cups (315 ml) sunflower oil (or vegetable, safflower, canola oil)
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 ml) pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups (345 g) cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon (7 g) ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons (8 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (7 g) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (3 g) ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1.5 g) ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) brandy or dark rum
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (60 g) chopped crystallized ginger
  • For the Cinnamon Sugar Spread Filling:
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) ground cinnamon (I love Vietnamese Cinnamon for its intensity)
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Filling:
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) cold water
  • 1 packet (1 tablespoon) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 2 3/4 cups (660 ml) whipping cream (35-37% fat), cold, divided
  • 1/2 cup (65 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla bean paste, or pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Fluffy Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1 package (250 g) cream cheese, softened 30 mins
  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, softened 30 mins
  • 4 cups (500 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoon (5 ml) clear vanilla extract (or pure vanilla extract)
  • 1/8 teaspoon orange flavor oil (or 1/4 teaspoon orange extract), if possible

Instructions

    For the Pumpkin Ginger Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three 8-inch round cake pans, dust with flour, tap out excess and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs together on medium-high speed (I use #6 on KitchenAid) until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the oil and beat on medium until combined. Add the pumpkin puree and mix until combined.
  3. Sift dry ingredients together (cake flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and ground ginger) and then add to pumpkin/egg mixture.
  4. Mix in brandy/dark rum (I used dark rum) and vanilla. Gently stir in crystallized ginger.
  5. Evenly distribute batter into the prepared pans (weigh them if possible with digital kitchen scale for 560 g per pan), smooth with a small offset palette knife and place in the center of the middle rack of the oven, about 2 inches apart. (Depending on your oven, you will likely need to bake 2 pans, followed by the third.) Bake until a knife or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
  6. Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack and cool them completely.
  7. For the Cinnamon Sugar Spread Filling:
  8. In a medium bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Stir in the melted butter, vanilla and salt.
  9. For the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Filling:
  10. In a small stainless steel bowl, place the cold water and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of the cream just to a simmer, then stir into the gelatin mixture until the gelatin has dissolved. Refrigerate, stirring frequently, until cool but not set, about 8 minutes. (Be careful to keep your eye on it, or you'll end up with Panna Cotta!)
  11. In a chilled stainless steel mixer bowl with a chilled whisk attachment, beat the remaining whipping cream until it thickens just slightly, and then add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla bean paste and salt until very soft peaks begin to form, about 1 minute. Very gradually add the gelatin mixture and continue beating until medium-firm peaks form (should be thick enough to spread, but not spongy). Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.
  12. For the Fluffy Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:
  13. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend the cream cheese and butter for 6 minutes on low speed (#2 on KitchenAid Mixer).
  14. Add 2 cups (250 g) of the confectioners' sugar and mix for 1 minute on low speed. Add the remaining icing sugar and mix for an additional 2 minutes. Add the flavors and mix for 1 minute on medium-high speed.
  15. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
  16. Assembly of the Sugar & Spice Delight Cake:
  17. Chill cake layers until cold and firm. Slice all three cake layers in half horizontally, so you have 6 cake layers total.
  18. Smear a small dollop of the frosting on the plate, pedestal or cake board, and place your first layer cut side up (so bottom of the cake layer is touching plate), and spread 1/5th of the Cinnamon Sugar Spread Filling on the layer, followed by ~3/4 cup of Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Filling with a small offset palette knife, leaving 1" or so around the edge.
  19. Repeat previous step until you get to the final cake layer. Place last layer face down, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill cake for at least 30-40 minutes to set.
  20. Frost entire cake with a thin "coat" of Fluffy Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting and chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Repeat frosting, using a turntable and palette knife to create texture (as in photo)--use one hand to turn the turntable and hold the palette knife in the other hand. Keep palette knife in place and let the turntable do the moving. Top with dollops of the remaining Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Filling. Sprinkle with cinnamon and white sugar. Chill cake to set.
  21. Finished cake can be kept at room temperature for up to 8 hours. Keep refrigerated if longer than 8 hours, but serve at room temperature (although it does taste very good cold!.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Pumpkin cake is similar to other spice cakes, carrot cakes, etc. in that it not only lasts several days in the refrigerator but almost gets better with age. It retains its moisture so well that you can make it up to two days ahead, chill and serve at room temperature, however it also tastes great cold!
  • The cake layers are essentially the same as the Sweet Potato Cake layers from the Autumn Delight Cake, but with pumpkin puree in place of the sweet potato puree and less crystallized ginger.
  • If you’d rather not be bothered with slicing the baked layers, you can always serve this as a 3-layer cake–I doubt anyone would complain!
  • The Cinnamon Sugar Spread Filling can be made the day ahead and covered in plastic wrap. To soften for spreading, simply microwave for about 10 seconds, or until it has softened enough to spread. On a sidenote, this spread is amazing on toast, pancakes, waffles or pretty much anything. And just when you thought cinnamon was cinnamon, there are several varieties, and each one will yield a very different taste in your baked goods.
  • The Fluffy Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting is very fluffy and almost “loose” because we’ve beat the cream cheese to smithereens, but it tastes so good and creamy this way. I personally like using a really soft frosting consistency when frosting a cake, but it does take getting used to it wanting to slip and slide. If you find it too soft you can refrigerate the frosting itself until more firm, and in turn if you over-chill it and it’s too firm, you can soften in the microwave in very short intervals (about 10 seconds). It’s very forgiving. Just be sure to “beat” any air pockets out of it with a rubber spatula in a back-and-forth motion against the sides of the bowl.

Good luck & enjoy!

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Retro Stars Mixer Giveaway! {Winner Announced}

And the winner of the Retro Stars KitchenAid 5QT Mixer is . . .

#1822 Jody: “I’d love to visit the late 40′s, after the war, when things were prosperous and the fashion and cars were amazing.”

Congratulations, Jody! You will also be notified by email.

I will be back soon with another sweet recipe to share!

. . .

 

KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway via Sweetapolita

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Hello, hello!

So today wasn’t going to be a mixer-giving-away-blog-post kind of day, but yesterday I googled “decals for stand mixers” (this is the type of random thought that hits me in the middle of doing something completely unrelated), and I came across this most awesome photo and Retro Stars decal design on Etsy. And while there are many mixer decal styles out there, this one speaks to me.

I think it’s my connection to the 1960s–a side effect which likely comes from watching countless Betwitched reruns with my 60s-born older sister while I was growing up. It’s not so much the “hippie life,” that appeals to me, but rather the strange fluffy pop culture of the era like, say, Valley of the Dolls and Nancy Sinatra (I’m not certain I should be necessarily be proud of this affinity). Well actually, it’s sort of a cross between the 1950s and the 1960s I’m drawn to–you know, baking a layer cake with an aqua Mixmaster in a pink kitchen listening to this and wearing this. I mean . . . come on.

And as for the 1960s, any era from which the Easy-Bake Oven came, is one I can wrap my heart around.

So in honour of my love for, well, all of that, I’m giving one very lucky reader a KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer (in Aqua Sky or any colour you’d prefer), along with these Retro Stars Decals! The decals take the mixer to a whole new level of cuteness (and can be removed at any time with no trace that they were ever there). So fun.

TO ENTER:

To enter this giveaway, simply answer the following question in the comments section of this post:

If you could live in any era, which one would you choose? Is your heart in the 1960s à la Mad Men and Bewitched? The Roaring 20s? Or perhaps you secretly wish you were living on Little House on the Prairie in the 1800s? I’d love to know!

  • For an extra entry, come over to Facebook and “like” Sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.
  • For an additional entry share the Sweetapolita Facebook Giveaway post on your own Facebook page, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.
  • For an additional entry, share this post on Twitter and include @sweetapolita, and then come back here and leave a comment telling me you did so. That comment will count as your extra entry.

THE RULES:

  • One entry per person, plus additional qualified bonus entries (mentioned above). Your comment may take a few moments to appear.
  • Winners will be announced Tuesday, October 8th, 2013.

Best of luck to you!

*This giveaway is sponsored by Sweetapolita & GoodMommyLLC.

I’ll see you very soon with another recipe!

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