Butterscotch Cupcakes Supreme

Hello, hello!

It was a crazy cupcake kind of week, let me tell you. Well, not so much crazy cupcakes, as a crazy week o’ cupcakes. I’ve been working about 12 hours per day in the kitchen, testing recipes for my book, and it just so happened to be a truly cupcake-y scene around here the past while. While I don’t make a ton of cupcakes for the blog (not sure why — it just works out that way), it seemed like something I needed to do this post. Although these are very different than what I’m working on for the book, my brain was in wee cake mode. I started to think about what would make the most decadent cupcake around, and I knew butterscotch was key.

Butterscotch Cupcakes Supreme by Sweetapolita

I think it’s also because butterscotch reminds me so much of summer — butterscotch sundaes have my heart, even though I’m not really an ice cream kind of gal. What is butterscotch exactly? Well, it seems to me that it’s a term used loosely for the combination of brown sugar, butter and cream. Adding vanilla and salt is a common way to make it even more divine. Scotch as we know it, however, isn’t part of the equation (sorry, Ron). Although, I’ve taken to adding a tablespoon of dark rum to mine, and it’s rather delightful.

When it comes to butterscotch sauce, it’s really similar to a caramel sauce, but it’s not quite as technical to make (we don’t need to worry about a candy thermometer) and, again, we use brown sugar over white sugar. That’s not to say that caramel can’t have brown sugar and butterscotch can’t have white sugar, because that would make my explanation way too easy to follow.

So aside from being the most decadently caloric cupcake I’ve ever made, what is a Butterscotch Cupcake Supreme? It’s a super-moist, tender brown sugar cupcake brushed with a rum syrup, injected with homemade butterscotch sauce and topped with whipped mascarpone frosting drizzled with more butterscotch sauce and toffee bits. Kind of butterscotch heaven, in my mind. The cupcakes themselves aren’t super-sweet, but rather tender and subtly vanilla and brown sugary. The whipped mascarpone frosting is very minimally sweet, but oh-so-creamy.

The tang from the mascarpone goes so well with the super-sweet, buttery richness of the butterscotch. I’m not going to lie — you could pour this butterscotch sauce over a week-old mediocre donut and it’d suddenly be a life-altering dessert sensation. It’s that good. Try pouring it over vanilla ice cream or pretty much anything else you have in your kitchen — it’s amazing.

Butterscotchy love. ♥

And while we’re talking love, I want to tell you that I love you for being so patient with me and my lengthy between-posts gaps. Just know that all sorts of confectionery madness is happening from morning to night in my kitchen right now, and I can’t wait to share it all with you in book form.

That being said, I can’t wait to share my next blog post with you!

Butterscotch Cupcakes Supreme

Yield: 18 standard cupcakes

Moist brown sugar cupcakes brushed with rum syrup, injected with homemade butterscotch sauce, topped with whipped mascarpone frosting and drizzled with more butterscotch sauce and toffee bits.

Ingredients

    For the Rum Syrup:
  • 1/4 cup (57 g) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) water
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) white or dark rum
  • For the Butterscotch Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (228 g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) whipping cream (35%)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) sea salt or fleur de sel
  • For the Brown Sugar Cupcakes:
  • 1-3/4 cups (236 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup (57 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1 cup (230 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons (13 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small even pieces
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) milk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon juice
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • For the Whipped Mascarpone Frosting:
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whipping cream (35%), cold
  • 3/4 cup (94 g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup (240 ml) mascarpone cheese, softened
  • Toffee bits for sprinkling

Instructions

    For the Rum Syrup:
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Let cool. Keep in an airtight container for up to one week.
  2. For the Butterscotch Sauce:
  3. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and swirl to combine. Whisk in cream then let mixture bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes -- don't stir. Whisk in vanilla and sea salt. Let cool. Keep in an airtight jar in refrigerator for up to one week.
  4. For the Brown Sugar Cupcakes:
  5. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two muffin tins with 18 standard cupcake liners.
  6. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. With the mixer set to low speed, add the cold butter one piece at a time, about 10 seconds apart. Continue mixing on low speed until all of the butter has been blended and there are no clumps, about 5 minutes. Mixture should have a fine crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.
  7. Combine the milk and lemon juice and gradually add mixture on medium speed for 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the egg mixture; once the mixture has been added, increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute, but no more. Gently fold batter once or twice (but no more) to ensure the egg mixture has all been incorporated.
  8. Divide batter evenly among the cupcake liners (a little more than 2/3 full) and bake until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs but no batter, about 13 minutes. Turn baked cupcakes onto wire cooling racks (face up) and brush with rum syrup while hot, then let cool completely.
  9. For the Whipped Mascarpone Frosting:
  10. Chill a stainless steel bowl and whisk attachment (from electric mixer) in the freezer for 10 minutes. Return bowl and whisk to mixer and whip heavy cream and confectioners' sugar on medium-high speed until medium-firm peaks form. Fold in softened mascarpone cheese. Use immediately.
  11. Assembly of the Butterscotch Cupcakes:
  12. Fill a plastic squeeze bottle with butterscotch sauce and push tip of bottle into top of each cupcake, applying enough pressure to fill each cupcake with sauce (don't over-fill or sauce will ooze too much from top). Using an ice cream scoop or spoon, cover each cupcake with mascarpone frosting. Drizzle more butterscotch sauce over frosting and sprinkle with toffee bits.
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Flavour combination inspiraiton: Tartelette

Cupcake recipe adapted from parenting.com

Butterscotch Sauce recipe adapted from LifeStyle FOOD

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • You can make the rum syrup and butterscotch sauce up to a week ahead and keep airtight in the refrigerator (cool completely before refrigerating). 
  • The butterscotch sauce is beyond delicious on its own, over ice cream, cake, bread pudding, cookies, etc. You can even add a tablespoon of dark rum to it with the vanilla and salt. Divine.
  • You can make the cupcakes 1 day ahead.
  • To fill the cupcakes liners, I used a heaping 50mm Stainless Steel Scoop full for each and used Ateco brand gold foil liners.
  • You should make the whipped mascarpone frosting right before you assemble the cupcakes. Once on the cupcakes, they’re best served within a few hours, but I noticed that once I refrigerated mine for photos the next day, the frosting held together just fine.
Good luck & enjoy!

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Sweetapolita’s Happy Summer Giveaway! {Winner Announced}

The winner of Sweetapolita’s Happy Summer Giveaway is . . .

#1427 Molly @ Bakelette: “ICE CREAM! Yum!”

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

I will be back very soon with another recipe!

. . . 

clockwise from top left: cuisinart soft serve ice cream maker, nostalgia electrics cotton candy maker, babycakes mini cupcake maker, rice melamine teaspoons, pink kitchenaid mixing bowls

Hello, my friends!

Okay, so it’s not exactly summer yet. But soon (let’s hope). I thought it would be fun to do another giveaway of some of my best-loved treasures, and with summer almost here, it seems like a perfect reason to celebrate. I’m excited to be giving away all of the gifts shown above to one lucky reader as a little thank you for your awesomeness (I just wish I could give every reader these prizes, because you are all amazing and appreciated!).

So again, here’s what one reader will win:

Seriously happy, summertime kitchen-fun.

Hooray! 

Giveaway is now closed. 

TO ENTER:

To enter Sweetapolita’s Happy Summer Giveaway, simply answer the question below in the comments section of this post.

What’s your best-loved summer treat? 

  • 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. 
  • Giveaway open worldwide.
  • Winners will be announced here on the blog on Wednesday, June 5th, 2013.

*Giveaway sponsored by Sweetapolita 

I’ll see you soon with another recipe!

Best of luck!

Related posts:

Orange Party Cake with Whipped Orange Frosting

Orange Party Cake via Sweetapolita

Hello from the land of orange cake! I’m finally getting a chance to share this happy-happy orange cake with you guys. Let’s just say since my last post, where lavender & strawberry made a summery debut, it’s been all about orange (and a whole lot of book recipe testing!). I made orange layer cake exactly 5 times in one week, and this was the one I was truly pleased with. Why did it take me 5 tries, you ask? Well, it was one-part cake fail, one-part inferior butter (we’ll talk more about that), one-part aesthetic let-down, one-part perfectionism, and two-parts me being completely Willy Wonky at (most) times. 

But alas, I really love this cake! It’s a moist yellow cake infused with fresh orange juice and zest, filled with an orange vanilla whipped cream, and frosted with an orange frosting tinted in a few sherbet shades using one of my favourite decorating techniques, the super-simple but strangely rewarding Pastel Swirl style. It’s a really neat (and quick) way to tell a story of the flavours inside the cake (much like the Vanilla Blackberry-Mascarpone Cake  I shared recently), or simply to add an artistic flair to any layer cake. Just remember that, although the colour combinations are virtually endless, I find this works best when the colours really blend together (but not over-blended or they’ll become one colour), so I’ve discovered that sticking to three (or so) colours that actually look nice when combined is ideal, not just colours that look nice beside each other. So in this case, since orange and pink make coral, I was able to blend them together to achieve a pretty new colour. I added some un-tinted frosting in there too, so that it would create pastel versions of the same colour scheme.

I made a little batch of sugar flowers (which would be super cute on the cupcake version of this cake, which I will likely do with the extra flowers from this post!), and ended up using a single little blossom and some pink and white sanding sugar to give the cake a little bit of a tropical feel. Real flowers would be so lovely on this style as well, and I can see a tropical shower cake, birthday cake, or even wedding cake a few tiers high becoming a total showstopper.

So I’m lucky enough to have you as a regular reader, you’ll likely notice that the filling and frosting recipes are variations on those found in many of my cake recipes. See, I don’t think you always have to start from “scratch,” but rather can make a few modifications on your favourite existing recipes to make a whole new cake. In this case, I simply added orange zest/juice to my favourite vanilla recipes, and it completely changes the experience. I absolutely love working with oranges in dessert, as I think they offer so much flavour and instantly make most desserts so much more interesting. And they literally fragrance the entire house one you start zesting away. It’s truly a lovely baking experience.

I typically use Valencia oranges when baking/juicing, because they’re so, well, juicy! I also find them even more fragrant than Navel oranges, offering even more orangey-ness to recipes. I did experiment with Pure Orange Extract while making this, but in the end I took it out of the recipe–it just gave it a medicinal quality that wasn’t so happy-happy. One option would be to experiment with Orange Blossom Water to the frosting, as that would give it a unique orange flavour as well (as with these cookies I made last Easter), but I find the juice and zest of the Valencia oranges worked well.

So, remember way up there when I mentioned that I had an inferior butter experience? Well, I’m actually glad I did, even though it meant 3 layers of cake in the garbage. And this feels important enough to make a separate post about butter in itself, but for now let me touch on what happened. So, as you know, I’m working on my first book (hooray!), which means I’m currently living in a sea of bags of sugar and flour that weigh more than my children, and have had to forgo buying groceries so I can make room in our fridge for the endless pounds of butter (kidding .  . . sort of), I decided that maybe I need to experiment with the less pricey butter variety, to see if it really makes a difference, or if it’s at least good enough for everyday baking. I decided that I’d buy my favourite butter, Lactancia My Country Unsalted Butter, for frostings and buttercreams, and try the Great Value butter for the actual cakes, etc. I made the cake back-to-back using each butter, while keeping every single step and ingredient the same, but the Great Value version was so dense and greasy. I tried it, and it tasted like cornbread–it was honestly, inedible, in my opinion. When I made it right then again with the Lactancia, it was just as it should be: light, tender and orange-y. I can assume that the Lactancia has a higher fat content, but it’s hard to know . . .

I can see this is a topic that likely requires extensive research, because aside from experimenting with every brand of butter out there in the same cake recipe, it would be impossible to know from simply looking at the butter packages at the store. The nutritional info on the packages are typically all the same, but that doesn’t mean that butter is made up of the same fat/water ratios. I would love to spend more time really figuring this out, because this is the first time in my life I’ve tasted a cake that tasted like cornbread, yet in this previous post from the Fluffy Vanilla Cake, some people have mentioned that they thought it tasted that way. I was perplexed! Especially since out of over 450 reader comments on that post, hundreds of people seem to share my love for how fluffy and light that cake is. Very mysterious . . .

Now I’m also wondering about those who have had separation issues with their Swiss Meringue Buttercream–again, something that’s never happened to me, and not because I don’t have epic baking fails, but maybe because I’ve only used higher-priced butter. It does kind of all make sense . . .

So that being said, it seems that in some cases, you might “get what you pay for” when it comes to butter for baking cakes and making meringue buttercream. I can’t say that every fancy brand is perfect for baking, and every inexpensive brand is terrible, but between these two brands for my cakes it was night and day. Something to think about! And if you have any experience with this, feel free to share your story in in the comments. Let’s get to the bottom of this.

In the meantime, here’s the recipe for this happy-happy orange party cake:

Orange Party Cake with Whipped Orange Frosting

Ingredients

    For the Orange Cake:
  • 4 whole eggs, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, strained (I like Valencia oranges)
  • 3 cups (345 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (19 g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small even pieces
  • Zest from 2 medium oranges
  • For the Orange-Vanilla Whipped Cream Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) whipping cream (35-37% fat), cold
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) icing/confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Zest from 1 medium orange
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Whipped Orange Frosting:
  • 2 cups (454 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 4-1/2 cups (565 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the Orange Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment round and dust sides with flour.
  2. In a medium measuring cup with a spout, lightly break up the eggs and yolks. In a separate measuring cup, combine the orange juice and milk.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With the mixer set to low speed, add the cold butter one piece at a time, about 10 seconds apart. (You can keep half in the fridge while you add the first half of butter.) Continue mixing on low speed until all of the butter has been blended and there are no clumps. Mixture should have a fine crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.
  4. Gradually add the milk/orange juice mixture to these dry ingredients, and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the egg mixture; once the mixture has been added, increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute, but no more. Gently fold in the zest.
  5. Divide batter evenly among the 3 prepared pans (use a kitchen scale to ensure 3 even layers--cakes should weight ~460 g each). Place two of the cake pans on a baking sheet and bake until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs but no batter, about 23 minutes. Repeat with the final layer. Let the layers cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then loosen sides with thin metal spatula or knife, and carefully turn out onto wire racks, peel of the paper liners, and let cool completely.
  6. For the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream Filling:
  7. 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 1/3 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!)
  8. In a chilled stainless steel mixer bowl with a chilled whisk attachment, beat the remaining whipping cream, icing/confectioners' sugar, vanillla and salt until it thickens just slightly and 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). Fold in zest. Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.
  9. For the Whipped Orange Frosting:
  10. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  11. Add sifted icing sugar, orange juice and salt, and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy.
  12. Assembly of the Orange Party Cake:
  13. Trim any dark edges or crust from cake layers with a very sharp serrated knife. Place your first cake layer, face-up, onto a cake stand, plate or 8-inch round foil cake board. Fill your pastry bag with about 1-1/2 cups of the Whipped Orange Frosting and pipe a dam around the perimeter of the cake layer (this will keep our Orange-Vanilla Whipped Cream Filling in place). Place about 1 cup of the cream filling on top of the cake layer, inside of the dam. Gently spread the filling using a small offset spatula.
  14. Repeat until you come to your final cake layer, which you will place face-down. If you find the cake too soft and unstable, put in refrigerator for a few moments to firm it up, then resume. Use your clean offset spatula to carefully smooth the frosting so it's flat against the cake.
  15. Cover the entire cake gently with plastic wrap (I like Press n' Seal), and then, once covered, use your hands to carefully ensure the cake is lined up straight and flattening any lumps or bumps of frosting. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  16. Once cake is stable and chilled, apply an even layer of frosting to the entire cake, to seal in crumbs. Chill again until frosting is firm, about 30 minutes.
  17. Place cake plate/board with cake onto a turntable, if possible. Be sure your remaining frosting is smooth and fluffy, working it with a rubber spatula for a few moments. You can even warm in microwave for a few seconds to soften it up.
  18. Divide frosting into 4 separate small bowls. Tint 3 of them: 1 orange, 1 bright pink, 1 bright coral (pink + orange). Leave the remaining frosting un-tinted. Place cake on a turntable, if possible.
  19. Using a small offset spatula, spread the orange frosting on the top of the cake, letting it extend about 1/2" over the edge. Using a straight medium spatula, spread a thick layer of bright pink frosting along the bottom third of the entire cake, followed by the un-tinted frosting on the middle of the cake, and the coral on the upper third of the cake. Clean your medium straight spatula and then smooth the sides of cake, slowly turning the cake turntable while holding the spatula steady. Use your small offset spatula to smooth top of cake. Top with sanding sugar and sugar blossom, if desired.
  20. Keep cake refrigerated for up to 2 days, but serve at room temperature.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Here’s my video tutorial on this frosting technique. 
  • For this sherbet colour scheme, I used the following gel colours: Electric Pink for the bright pink, Electric Yellow Red Red for the orange, and combined the two colours for the coral. Just a note that you’ll want to get your pink super bright, as it will fade a bit after applying to the cake. The reason I use “electric” colours when tinting frosting with an ivory tone (so pretty much anything with butter), is because I feel that the electric colours cut through the yellow better than regular colours. You just have to be careful that you don’t end up with neon frosting (however, that might not be a bad thing in some cases!).
  • For all of my cake decorating, I use a cake turntable–it’s definitely a must-have. I have a homemade version, but have recently started using the Ateco Revolving Cake Stand, and I love it.
  • I always use a Small Offset Spatula and Medium Straight Spatula when frosting a cake.
  • For the blossoms, I used 5-Petal Flower Cutter set, and simply cut them from thinly-rolled Gum Paste , shaping them by letting them dry in a egg carton (or you can always buy flower formers, but I have a designated egg carton for this kind of thing). Once dry I brushed on a little pink petal dust into the centre, and attached sugar pearls in the centre using a tiny dab of Clear Piping Gel.

Good luck & enjoy!



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Strawberry & Lavender Buttermilk Cake

lavcake-1

Happy May to you!

Before I chat about this springy cake, I want to say thank you so much for all of your enthusiasm and kind words about my Sweetapolita cookbook news. Between twitter, facebook and blog comments, I felt some serious baking-book-love and support! I’m so excited to share more of those details along the way. A book filled with all new, inspired cakes and confections–it’s kind of, sort of, totally and utterly my dream come true.

So, it’s been a busy few weeks around here (and quiet on the blog–sorry!). I’ve started working on the book, of course, and I also managed to sneak in a much-needed trip to San Francisco, where I was thrilled to connect with my friend, Shauna (and her gorgeous newborn baby boy), for an afternoon of sweets and girl-talk. After two and a half years of blogging, this was actually my first-ever virtual friend meet-up, but I knew it would be as though I’d known her forever. And it was. She’s just as funny, warm and all-around-awesome as I expected. (And she has amazing taste in bakeries.) We spent most of our time in a cozy window seat at the lovely new (and highly celebrated) b.patisserie, talking blogs, babies and books over the most incredible kouign amann, fancy vanilla cake, cremeux, and sugar brioche tart. (And yes, that is 4:2 dessert to girl ratio–we don’t mess around.) We topped off the visit with a trip to Miette, where I bought an array of the most delightful sweets for, you know, later.

After an amazing (and fattening) journey to SF, I returned home just in time to get working on the festivities and cake for our little cakelet Reese’s 6th birthday. Now, millions of people might say that a dozen 4-6 year old princesses in one tiny room armed with paintbrushes and fueled with cake might be pure, unthinkable craziness . . . and they’d be exactly right. But we made it. Nah, it wasn’t so scary and besides, what’s a little chaos, when your child has “the best birthday ever?”

So now that we’re back to “normal,” I was able to bake a sweet and simple cake that was completely inspired by the joy that is spring. It’s actually more of a summer cake, but where there is spring . . .

Lavender & Strawberry Buttermilk Cake via Sweetapolita

The cake is a super-moist vanilla buttermilk cake, filled with a light-as-air vanilla whipped cream filling and fresh strawberry & lavender compote, and frosted in a creamy, sweet lavender frosting (the same frosting I made for these). I did something I rarely do, which is top the cake with fresh flowers, but it felt right. (I’m no florist, so I kept it simple, but if you’ve got some florist wizardry in your blood, the possibilities are endless for topping a cake with fresh flowers.)

Lavender & Strawberry Buttermilk Cake via Sweetapolita

The cake itself is a very slight adaptation of this cake, but I made a few changes to the mixing technique after reading more about using cold butter in my preferred two-stage mixing method on baking911. Gradually adding cold (they have to be cold) pieces of butter to the dry ingredient mixture and letting it mix long enough to become a cornmeal consistency before adding the wet ingredients, seems to create an even lighter, fluffier cake. Loved this cake.

I went with a whipped cream filling because, aside from being one of my favourites, it’s ideal when your frosting on the cake is very sweet, as with this lavender frosting. And who doesn’t love whipped cream and strawberries? So essentially this cake is sort of a frosted version of lavender & strawberry shortcake. Infusing lavender into the strawberries and frosting gives it a strangely addictive and unexpected flavour, and if you’re not sure about lavender in your baked goods, just know I wouldn’t steer you wrong. If you know you don’t like the subtle taste that lavender brings to a dessert, you could simply omit it completely from both the compote and frosting. (Oh, but it’s so good.)

Either way, it’s sweet, fluffy, creamy, fruity burst of summer.

Strawberry-Lavender Buttermilk Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 8-inch round cake

Serving Size: 10-12

3 layers of moist, fluffy buttermilk cake filled with vanilla whipped cream & strawberry-lavender compote, and frosted with creamy, whipped lavender frosting.

Ingredients

    For the Buttermilk Cake:
  • 4 whole eggs, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1-1/4 cups (297 ml) buttermilk, shaken
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract OR Princess Bakery Emulsion
  • 3 cups (345 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon (17 g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small even pieces
  • For the Strawberry-Lavender Compote:
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Vanilla Whipped Cream Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold water
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 1-3/4 cups (420 ml) whipping cream (35-37% fat), cold, divided
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) icing/confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Whipped Lavender Frosting:
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender
  • 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons (375 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 4 cups (500 g) icing/confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Few drops purple gel colour
  • You will also need:
  • Medium or Large Pastry Bag fitted with plain round tip (a resealable Ziploc bag will do in a pinch)
  • Small Offset Spatula

Instructions

    For the Buttermilk Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment round, butter the rounds and dust with flour.
  2. In a large measuring cup with a spout, lightly whisk the eggs, yolks, 1/4 cup of the buttermilk and the vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer set to low speed, add the cold butter one piece at a time, about 10 seconds apart. Continue mixing on low speed until all of the butter has been blended and there are no clumps. Mixture should have a fine crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.
  4. Add the remaining 1 cup buttermilk to these dry ingredients, and mix on medium speed for 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the egg mixture; once the mixture has been added, increase speed to medium and beat for 1 minute, but no more. Gently fold batter once or twice (but no more) to ensure the egg mixture has all been incorporated.
  5. Divide batter evenly among the 3 prepared pans (use a kitchen scale to ensure 3 even layers). Place two of the cake pans on a baking sheet and bake until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs but no batter, about 28 minutes. Repeat with the final layer. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then loosen sides with thin metal spatula or knife, and carefully turn out onto wire racks, peel of the paper liners, and let cool completely.
  6. For the Strawberry-Lavender Compote:
  7. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup of the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, lavender and salt until the berries start to break down, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
  8. Lower the heat and simmer until compote coats a spoon, about 15-20 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and let cool down slightly. Using an immersion blender (carefully) and pulse a few times, or use a handheld masher. Stir in remaining fresh strawberries. Keep covered and chilled for up to 3 days. (Be sure it has completely chilled before using to fill cake.)
  10. For the Vanilla Whipped Cream Filling:
  11. 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 1/3 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!)
  12. In a chilled stainless steel mixer bowl with a chilled whisk attachment, beat the remaining whipping cream, icing/confectioners' sugar, vanillla and salt until it thickens just slightly and 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). Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.
  13. For the Whipped Lavender Frosting:
  14. Add the lavender blossoms to 1/4 cup (59 ml) whole milk, cover, and refrigerate overnight (or at least several hours). Strain into clean bowl/glass.
  15. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  16. Add sifted icing sugar, vanilla, salt and lavender milk, and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy. Tint with a few drops of purple gel colour.
  17. Assembly of the Strawberry-Lavender Buttermilk Cake:
  18. Trim any dark edges or crust from cake layers with a very sharp serrated knife. Place your first cake layer, face-up, onto a cake stand, plate or 8-inch round foil cake board. Fill your pastry bag with about 1-1/2 cups of the Whipped Vanilla Frosting and pipe a dam around the perimeter of the cake layer (this will keep our compote and Vanilla Whipped Cream Filling in place). Spread about 1 cup of the cream filling on top of the cake layer and spoon a few tablespoons of the compote and berries inside of the dam. Gently spread the filling using a small offset spatula.
  19. Repeat until you come to your final cake layer, which you will place face-down. If you find the cake too soft and unstable, put in refrigerator for a few moments to firm it up, then resume. If you see any spots where the compote is peeking through or starting to ooze out (ahh!), use your piping bag to squeeze more frosting over it, between the layers. Use your clean offset spatula to carefully smooth the frosting so it's flat against the cake.
  20. Cover the entire cake gently with plastic wrap (I like Press n' Seal), and then, once covered, use your hands to carefully ensure the cake is lined up straight and flattening any lumps or bumps of frosting. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  21. Once cake is stable and chilled, apply an even layer of lavender frosting to the entire cake, to seal in crumbs. Chill again until frosting is firm, about 30 minutes.
  22. Place cake plate/board with cake onto a turntable, if possible. Be sure your remaining frosting is smooth and fluffy, working it with a rubber spatula for a few moments. You can even warm in microwave for a few seconds to soften it up. Apply a final layer of frosting to the cake. Top with fresh non-toxic flowers, strawberries, or decoration of your choice.
  23. Keep cake refrigerated for up to 2 days, but serve at room temperature. Remove flowers before eating.

Notes

[buttermilk cake recipe adapted from the book Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • I used this Princess Bakery Flavor for the buttermilk cake, which is an amazing emulsion that gives the cake a vanilla-almond sort of flavour and doesn’t lose taste when baked. You can simply use vanilla if you can’t find this.
  • You can buy Culinary French Lavender online or or in gourmet food shops.
  • I use this MAC Knife for all of my cake layering and trimming. It’s super sharp and makes clean cake layers, ideal for building not-so-crumby layer cakes.
  • To achieve the lavender shade on this cake, I used 3:1 ratio Electric Purple and Violet. It will darken once it’s on the cake, so be careful to not over-tint.
  • For added richness, you can fold in 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese to the vanilla whipped cream filling (as the very last step).
  • You can bake the cake layers the day before needed, keeping them wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and at room temperature.
  • You can make the compote the day before needed, and keep it covered and refrigerated.
  • You’ll want to keep this cake in the fridge between servings for up to 2 days, but it’s best served at room temperature and day 1.
Good luck & enjoy!

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6-Layer Chocolate Sprinkle Cake + a Cookbook Announcement!

So . . . I have some news! As you may have guessed from the title of this post, I’m thrilled to share that I’ve just embarked upon writing my first Sweetapolita baking book!

I know this will be the most creatively rewarding journey of my life so far and, although writing a book is all new to me, I feel strangely comfortable — as though this is exactly where I was meant to be. It also makes a world of difference having such incredible support. Over the past many months, I’ve worked closely with my fabulous literary agent, Judy Linden of Stonesong Press, while creating my book proposal, and without her this would never have come to be. And I couldn’t be more honoured to be teaming with such an amazing editor, Ashley Phillips, from Clarkson Potter  and yet another amazing editor here in Canada, Robert McCullough, from Appetite by Random House of Canada – have you seen the incredible cookbooks they publish? Of course you have! Martha Stewart’s books, the Barefoot Contessa books and Rachael Ray’s books are just some examples of the incredibly inspiring books published by Clarkson Potter/Random House. Needless to say I’m in amazing hands.

As I worked on the outline for this book over the past year or more, I felt as though I going to bust from the urge to share the ideas with you on the blog. Somewhat torturous and exhilarating all at the same time! I tapped into the very essence of my heart and soul, and now it’s time to bring those ideas to life in the kitchen, through the lens and finally, in print. I simply can’t wait to share more details with you along the way. What a journey ahead!

Finally, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my sweets-loving heart for helping me make this happen. Your enthusiasm and support for this blog has inspired me to strive for creative heights I never imagined possible. And the truth is, I kind of love you guys. Like crazy.

And as any self-respecting baking junkie would do in a time of celebration and dreams-come-true, I made a super-sprinkly cake!

Sprinkle Cake via Sweetapolita

What is this sprinkle-crusted cakey-ness? It’s a 6-layer moist chocolate cake, filled with vanilla birthday cake whipped cream filling (we’ll get to that yumminess), covered in malted Belgian chocolate frosting, then covered with a medley of sprinkles and such. Inspired by one of my favourite cake recipes, the Campfire Delight Cake, I’ve been thinking a lot about 6-layer chocolate cakes covered in malted Belgian chocolate frosting — it’s just too awesome to not. But with all of that chocolate going on, 5 layers of vanilla birthday cake whipped cream filling push the party in this cake over the edge. So decadent!

You probably remember from this cake and this cake that I love whipped cream filling. I think it’s such a great starting point for a filling, and you can flavour it pretty much any way you like. It’s so light and airy, and because it’s not sweet or buttery, it’s the perfect filling for a rich cake frosted with a rich icing. So I just took that whipped cream filling and turned it into a vanilla birthday cake of sorts! With some white cake batter, pure vanilla and rainbow sprinkles that classic whipped cream filling just had 8 excitable little girls show up to the door with their party hats on.

sprinklecakeed

I thought it would be fun to make a huge sprinkle medley to decorate this cake, so I just grabbed a big bowl along with a bunch of jars of my favourite sprinkles and sugar pearls, and kept adding and shaking them up until I liked the way it looked. I decided to pipe a fancy border around the top, mostly because I love the consistency of that chocolate frosting, and I knew most of the cake surface would be covered with sprinkles.

Crunchy, creamy, cakey, fluffy, chocolaty. The border is just a twist on this piping technique, but with the 1M star tip, and rather than just piping one “shell” after the other in a straight single line around the top of the cake, I angled the first one toward the centre slightly, and then piped another right beside it, angling it toward the first — like a heart shape. Once you do this around the whole cake, it takes on a woven look of sorts. Really quite simple, but neat looking!

Sprinkles via Sweetapolita

And then I started daydreaming frolicking in a huge adult-size play area filled with 5 feet of this sprinkle medley. And then I had cake. And then I did a few jumps for joy! And then I got a cramp. But then I jumped for joy again!

I simply cannot wait to share more book details with you all. Stay tuned! In the meantime, please say you’ll make this cake to help me celebrate?

6-Layer Chocolate Sprinkle Cake

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

Serving Size: 8-10

6 layers of moist, dark chocolate cake filled with birthday cake whipped cream and sprinkles, covered in creamy, rich malted Belgian chocolate frosting and covered in a medley of more sprinkles.

Ingredients

    For the Chocolate Layer Cake:
  • 2-1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon (330 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (135 g) Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder (or similar premium brand)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 g) baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 mL) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups (360 mL) strong black coffee, hot
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (22.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Whipped Birthday Cake Filling:
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) cold water
  • 1 tablespoons (15 ml) unflavoured gelatin (such as Knox brand)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) whipping cream (35-37% fat), cold, divided
  • 1/2 cup (63 g) icing sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (15 g) white cake mix
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting:
  • 1 lb butter (2 cups)(454 g), at room temperature
  • 4 cups (500 g) icing sugar (confectioners' or powdered), sifted
  • 3/4 cup (75 g) Ovaltine Classic (brown in colour)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 oz (250 g) quality Belgian chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) whipping (35% fat) cream
  • You will Also Need:
  • Sprinkles! Lots of them (about 2 cups), preferably a mix.

Instructions

    For the Chocolate Layer Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare three 8-inch round cake pans (butter, line bottom with parchment paper, butter paper, dust with flour).
  2. In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients, including sugar. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork.
  3. Add milk mixture to the dry ingredients mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer). Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. (Batter will be thin.)
  4. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Continue to bake until toothpick or skewer comes almost clean (a few crumbs), about 12 more minutes. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
  5. For the Whipped Birthday Cake Filling:
  6. In a small bowl, place the cold water and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring 1/3 cup of the cream just to a simmer, then stir into the gelatin mixture. Refrigerate, stirring frequently, until cool but not set, about 8 minutes.
  7. In a small bowl, sift together the icing sugar and cake mix.
  8. In a chilled stainless steel bowl with a chilled whisk attachment (for stand mixer), beat the remaining whipping cream, icing sugar/cake mix, vanilla and salt until it thickens just slightly and 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). Keep covered and chilled until ready to use.
  9. For the Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting:
  10. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed for about 1 minute.
  11. Add malt powder, vanilla and salt, and beat on low until well combined. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes).
  12. Add whipping cream and beat on med-high speed for another minute.
  13. Mix and "work in" with rubber spatula right before applying to cake (to rid of air bubbles).
  14. Assembly of the 6-Layer Chocolate Sprinkle Cake:
  15. In a medium bowl or container, create a mixture of your favourite sprinkles: non-pareils, rainbow jimmies, chocolate sprinkles, pearls, etc. Set aside.
  16. On an 8-inch round cake board (or cake plate), put a small dollop of frosting. Cut your 3 cake layers each once horizontally with a long, serrated knife, so you have a total of 6 layers.
  17. Place your first layer face-up on the board (or plate) and cover with 1/5 of the Whipped Birthday Cake leaving about 1/2" around the edge and cover with a thin layer of your favourite sprinkle mix.
  18. Repeat until you come to your final layer, which you will place face-down. If you find the cake too soft and unstable, put in refrigerator for a few moments to firm it up, then resume.
  19. Using a turntable, if possible, frost entire outside of cake with a thin layer of Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting to seal in crumbs. Chill until firm. Repeat with another layer of frosting, this time working to get the frosting as smooth as possible. Place cake on a cookie sheet and carefully press your sprinkle mix onto sides, letting the excess fall down onto the cookie sheet. You can cover sides completely or leave 1/3 exposed (as in photo). Once you are pleased with your sprinkled sides, fill a medium or large pastry bag fitted with pastry tip 1M with the remaining frosting (about 2/3 full) and pipe border around the top of cake. Chill until firm.
  20. Take cake from fridge and cover the top with a layer of your sprinkle mixture, using a toothpick to push sprinkles in between piping. Once frosting softens again, the sprinkles will adhere to top.
  21. Serve cake at room temperature, but keep refrigerated if not serving the day it's made.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • For the chocolate cake, I used Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark.
  • For the malted Belgian chocolate frosting I used Callebaut Dark Callets 70.4 % .
  • For my sprinkle medley, I used rainbow jimmies, sugar pearls, chocolate jimmies, and tiny round rainbow sprinkles.
  • To decorate the piped border, I used a medium pastry bag and pastry tip 1M.
  • You can make the chocolate cake layers up 2 days ahead, wrapped tight in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature, or up to two weeks ahead wrapped tight and frozen. Thaw in refrigerator and then bring to room temperature.
  • Keep decorated cake in refrigerator for up to 2 days, but serve at room temperature.

Good luck & enjoy!

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