Lemon Meringue Delight Cake

Lemon Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Have you ever noticed that the best thing to pair with lemon seems to be . . . lemon? Every time I make a lemon cake or cupcake, aside from my occasional frolic with lavender and lemon or blueberry and lemon, all I want to do is add more lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon extract, lemon filling, lemon topping, lemon curd, lemon frosting and lemon buttercream. Lemon!

Lemon Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

During some of my recent baking in preparation for my sister-in-law’s baby shower, I did some lemon cupcakes filled with lemon curd and topped with lemon frosting, and I realized that I haven’t made a completely lemony layer cake in a long time. It was definitely time. And wait! Before you scroll down and read the recipe, just know that there are a few components in this cake that do take some time, but don’t let that scare you away — most of this cake can be made up to a few weeks ahead of time, so the actual assembly of the cake really is pretty quick and simple.

So what is a Lemon Meringue Delight Cake? It’s three layers of moist, lemony sponge cake filled with homemade lemon curd, lemon curd Swiss meringue buttercream and baked meringue discs, and frosted in more lemon curd Swiss meringue buttercream, topped with more lemon curd, swirls of buttercream, baked meringue swirls and lemon drop candy. In other words, a lotta lemony loveliness.

Lemon Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

A lemon party of sorts.

Lemon Meringue Milkshake via Sweetapolita

Remember these Lemon Meringue Milkshake & Mini Swirl Meringues? I make those little swirl meringues often, and I thought they’d make perfect little lemon cake decorations, so I just made them a bit bigger and a tad more swirly for this cake. In this particular recipe I did the meringues with a Swiss meringue method (heating the sugar and egg whites over a pot of simmering water until they reach 140-160°F and then whipping them in the mixer), but you can also do them with a traditional French meringue method (whisking the room temperature/warm egg whites in the mixer until they become foamy, then adding the sugar gradually, beating until stiff peaks form). I found, though, that the Swiss version seems to bake very glossy and the French meringue bakes a little more matte. The ones I used on the cake ended up being the French version, but I made some last night using the Swiss method and they were so nice and glossy. (They seem to taste the same either way.)

Baked meringues have my heart because, aside from their addictive sweet, light and crispy-ness, you can make a big batch and keep them airtight for weeks, making them ideal for topping cakes or cupcakes. And, of course, for random snacking. I thought it would be fun to make a few larger discs and put them right on top of the lemon curd filling in the cake, so when you’re taking lemony cake bites you hit little bursts of lemon meringue surprises along the way.

Lemon Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Lemon Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Lemon Meringue Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Lemon = Happy.

Again, I know the recipe looks a little daunting because of all of the components, but if you do a bit ahead of time, it really is a joy to make. Keep remaining lemon curd in an airtight container in the freezer for a zippy addition to pancakes, muffins, scones and more  – you’ll thank me! ♥

Lemon Meringue Delight Cake

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

Serving Size: 8-10

Three layers of moist lemon sponge cake filled with lemon curd and crisp baked meringue cookies and topped with lemon curd buttercream, more lemon curd and baked meringue swirls.

Ingredients

    For the Baked Meringue Swirls/Discs:
  • 3 egg whites (90 g)
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • A drop soft gel paste color, yellow
  • You will also need:
  • A large pastry bag
  • Decorating tip #1A
  • A small paintbrush
  • For the Lemon Curd:
  • 4 lemons (or 6 Meyer lemons), preferably organic
  • 2 whole eggs plus 4 egg yolks (set whites aside for buttercream)
  • 1 cup sugar (200 g)
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small even cubes
  • For the Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  • 7 egg whites (210 g)
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups (454 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) lemon curd
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • Few drops of soft gel paste colour, yellow (I used electric yellow)
  • For the Lemon Cake:
  • 3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups (270 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon (4 g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon(4 g) salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.75 ml) lemon extract
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • baked meringue swirls, for decorating
  • lemon drop candy, for decorating

Instructions

    For the Baked Meringue Swirls/Discs:
  1. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer and the whisk attachment with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease.
  2. Add egg whites and sugar to the mixer bowl and fit onto the top of a medium saucepan filled with about 1-inch of simmering (not boiling) water. (Be sure the bottom of your bowl is not touching the water.) Whisk constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  3. Dry the underside of the mixer bowl and transfer to your stand mixer. Whip using the whisk attachment until the meringue is thick and glossy and has reached the stiff peak stage.
  4. While the meringue is whipping in the mixer, fit your decorating bag with a plain round pastry tip. Fold over a cuff at the top of the pastry bag and paint 3, equally-spaced, thin lines of yellow gel colour using your fine paint brush (you can use any paint brush, but it should only be one you designate for food) from the pastry tip up toward the cuff.
  5. Fill the bag with your meringue (no more than 2/3 full) and pipe 1-1/2-inch swirls onto one of the lined baking sheets, spacing them about 1-inch apart. (These will be used to decorate top of cake). On the second baking sheet, pipe the remaining meringue into flat discs, about 2-inches in diameter, spacing them about 1" apart. (These will be used on top of the filling inside the assembled cake.)
  6. Bake for 60 minutes, rotating the trays after 30 minutes. Lower the oven to 175°F and bake until dry, about 40 minutes more. Keep in an airtight container until needed.
  7. For the Lemon Curd:
  8. Wash lemons really well (with a bristled brush under cold water) and using a zester, remove all of the coloured portion of the peel from the fruit (not the white pith–it’s bitter!) into a bowl or onto a piece of wax paper. Rotate fruit as necessary to get as much of the zest off. Repeat until you have 2 teaspoons (30 ml) of the zest, and set aside.
  9. Slice the lemons in half crosswise (I find room temperature citrus is best for juicing) using a sharp knife, and extract as much of the juice as you can using a citrus reamer, or I use a small, manual citrus juicer. (Just be sure to catch all of the juice in a bowl and to completely strain the seeds before using.) Repeat the juicing until you have 2/3 cup (160 ml) of the strained juice.
  10. Get your double boiler ready by filling a saucepan with 1″ of water, then placing a metal bowl on top of the saucepan. You will need to ensure the bowl fits snugly into the top of the saucepan and that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water (important, or your eggs will cook). You can now remove the bowl and continue with making the curd.
  11. Whisk the juice, whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar in the bowl until smooth. Add the butter cubes to the bowl, but don’t stir.
  12. Heat the water in the saucepan over low heat until it simmers (not boils) and place the bowl atop the rim. Stirring gently, but constantly, using heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, cook until the curd has thickened and all of the butter has melted and is incorporated, about 10 minutes (this can vary). To test if the curd is thick enough, remove the spatula or spoon from the curd and check that it’s coated.
  13. Strain the curd over a bowl using a fine-mesh sieve and then stir in the zest. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly against the curd (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill for at least 3 hours (I like to chill it overnight). It also thickens up a bit more while chilling. Keep refrigerated.
  14. For the Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
  15. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites, sugar and salt, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  16. With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip 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 so). *Don't begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.
  17. Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Increase mixer speed to medium and whip until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add lemon curd and vanilla, continuing to beat on medium speed until well combined. Add yellow soft gel paste colour until desired shade of yellow is achieved.
  18. For the Lemon Cake:
  19. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment and flour three round 8-inch pans. I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and 1 cup (200 g) of the sugar on medium high speed until very pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  20. Lower mixer speed to medium low and add the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition. Add lemon juice, vanilla, lemon extract and lemon zest and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, add dry ingredients. Add yogurt, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated.
  21. In another grease-free bowl, (or if you're lucky enough to have another mixer bowl) whip egg whites and remaining cup of sugar until they reach stiff peak stage. Fold meringue into batter until just combined, and divide batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Use a digital kitchen scale to weigh pans to ensure even layers, if possible (425 g of batter for each layer).
  22. Bake first two layers 2" apart in center of oven on top of a baking sheet until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center, about 25 minutes. Be careful to not over-bake -- check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. Repeat with final cake layer. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
  23. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best enjoyed day 1 or 2.
  24. Assembly of the Lemon Delight Layer Cake:
  25. Trim any doming or top crust and side crust from cake layers using a very sharp serrated knife (I use the Mac Bread Knife for all of my cake trimming, splitting, etc.).
  26. Use a cake turntable for filling, frosting and decorating, if a possible. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of a cake plate or 8″ round thin foil-covered cake board, and place the bottom cake layer on top, trimmed side up (face up).
  27. Pipe a dam (a rim around the top perimeter of the cake layer) of lemon curd buttercream around the cake layer using a large round Pastry Tip fitted inside a Decorating Bag. Then pipe another smaller circle of buttercream a few inches toward the center. Spoon lemon curd into the open spaces and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife, taking care to keep the curd within the dam (otherwise it will ooze out of the sides of the cake). Gently place cover the filling with a layer of the flat baked meringue discs, breaking them into smaller pieces if necessary to cover most of the layer.
  28. Repeat with second cake layer and more buttercream, lemon curd and meringue discs. Place final cake layer, trimmed side down. Look straight down from above cake and be sure the layers are all lined up, shifting gently if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  29. Remove from fridge and put a generous scoop of buttercream on top, spreading evenly with a small offset palette knife and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake (crumb-coat). Chill until set, another 30 minutes.
  30. Remove from refrigerator and covering the cake in another layer of buttercream, but this time using a thicker layer of buttercream and creating a smooth finish.
  31. For the top of the cake, using your decorating bag fitted with the large round tip , 2/3 full with buttercream, pipe 8 small swirls, evenly spaced. Top each swirl with a baked meringue swirls, and fill the spaces in between with lemon drop candy. Gently spoon a layer of lemon curd on top of the cake, using a toothpick to pull the curd to the inside edges of the candy and swirls.
  32. Store finished cake covered in refrigerator (due to the lemon curd filling), but serve at room temperature (you can remove from refrigerator several hours ahead of serving).

Notes

*You can make the baked meringues up to a few weeks in advance, keeping them in an airtight container at room temperature.

**You can make the lemon curd up to a month ahead, keeping it in an airtight container in freezer.

***You can make the Swiss meringue buttercream up to a month ahead, storing it in an airtight container in freezer, bringing to room temperature on counter the night before needed.

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Because Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Lemon Curd both take a little longer to make than some other fillings/frosting, I recommend making both ahead of time, if possible. They freeze well, and the buttercream can be simply brought to room temperature the night before you need it. The curd can basically be used straight from the freezer. If you go ahead and make all of the components in one day, there’s a good chance you will be cursing my name at random throughout the day. But even if you do go this route, it will still be worth it.
  • You can make the baked meringues up to two weeks before you need the cake, just keep them in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • You can bake the cake layers the day before you need to assemble the cake and keep them at room temperature wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
  • I use my the MAC Carving Knife for all of my cake trimming and slicing — it’s amazing.
  • For the Swirl Meringues and the Lemon Swiss Buttercream I used Americolor Electric Yellow Soft Gel Paste to achieve that particular shade of happy.
  • For the lemon drop decorations I used Claeys Lemon Sanded Candy Drops.
  • You can watch me frost a cake with smooth edges here.

Good luck & enjoy!


Related posts:

Cherry-Vanilla Delight Cake

Cherry Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

I have very fond memories of cherry chip cake, I really do. (You know, as opposed to all of those very unpleasing memories of other cake varieties.) But it does seem that I hold a special place in my heart for the irresistibly sweet and old-fashioned cherry chip cake. The idea of it triggers not only childhood memories for me, but grown-up memories that make me smile.

I remember the very first birthday I celebrated with my husband’s mom and family, I was turning 29. Grant and I had been together for only 5 months at the time, and we spent my birthday weekend at their cottage in Gananoque. Grant’s mom, Mary Lou, had asked Grant what kind of cake I would like her to make. He assured her that if it was cherry chip and iced in pink, it would be the perfect birthday cake for me (who knew?). I remember that cake so well. It was a perfect cherry chip heart-shaped cake (my favourite cake-shape from childhood) smothered in glorious waves of glossy pale pink marshmallow frosting–she even adorned it with some perfect marshmallow flowers! If I didn’t already know in my heart that I was going to marry Grant at that point, that cake would have likely convinced me. ♥

Sweetapolita

You might remember my reflecting on another cherry chip cake memory, a rather monumental one, from our relationship, here in this post. You can see me sneaking a few bites of the one above, on our wedding day, after Grant (my non-baker man) surprised me by making it the day before our wedding and having the staff at the Inn put it in our room that night while we were at our wedding rehearsal. Cherry chip cake with pink icing holds a place in our hearts (you learn why here). I couldn’t resist  eating it that day–wedding dress and all–mostly because it meant the world to me, and also because it’s simply the yummiest.

Cherry Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

So if cherry chip cake means so much to me, and us, why have I never made it from scratch before? I have no idea. And I think we can add that to the wonders of the world. Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense. But, here’s what: I made this cake 4 times last week! Well, different variations of it, but I made it. Then made it again. And again. And again. See, it was my birthday and it’s all I could think about–tender vanilla cake with a hint of sweet cherry flavour and little bits of maraschino cherries throughout and smothered in a marshmallow frosting. Since the cherry chip cakes I’ve eaten in my life, and that are so cozily tucked away in my memory, were all baked from cake mixes, I decided to visit some websites to find a good scratch version. Strangely, there really aren’t many out there, but I did come across Deborah’s over at Taste and Tell–hers looks amazing!

Cherry Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Deborah had modified a fabulous party cake recipe (Perfect Party Cake) from baking genius Dorie Greenspan to create her Cherry Chip version, and since I’ve been eager to try that recipe from Dorie’s book Baking: From My Home to Yours, I ended up slightly adapting Deborah’s recipe for what is now in my top 3 best-loved cake recipes. I did make this cake 4 times, as I said, and the first two attempts I used different cake recipe bases, but I just didn’t love them. I then went ahead and tried Deborah’s and loved it! I increased the recipe to create a 3 layer 8-inch round cake, and made only a few other small changes, such as adding almond extract, using vanilla sugar (I keep a vanilla pod in my sugar jar at all times, so when I bake the sugar enhances recipes to a super vanilla-ness), and adding a few drops of a very concentrated cherry flavour oil. Dorie’s cake layer recipe yields cake that is so light and tender that I’m eager to make an all-vanilla version soon. She is amazing.

I think I may have cherry-chipped my Instagram friends to death last week, but since I was eating, sleeping and breathing it, I couldn’t seem to help it. Here’s one of the first versions I made, and as delightfully cherry vanilla as it was, the layers were just a bit dense in the end. Because my memories are based on the cake mix variety, it was super important to me that the scratch version was a light and fluffy as possible.

Here’s a shot of the third version of the cake I made (mid-frost), with its light and tender cake layers and filled and frosted with Grant’s mom’s old-fashioned frosting (also known as 7 minute frosting, marshmallow frosting, boiled frosting, etc.) that she used for my birthday cake those years ago. The cake tasted incredible with its tender layers filled with sweet and juicy bits of maraschino cherry, hints of almond and vanilla, and covered in billowy marshmallow frosting. I tinted a small amount of the frosting pink for a pastel ombre effect (a subtle version of the pastel swirl technique from this post) and slathered it on generously. Even though the frosting is sweet, with no butter (or any fat for that matter) it’s best enjoyed in bounteous swirls.

I filled and frosted in the old-fashioned frosting, which was fluffy and glorious, but when I made it the final time I actually filled it with a sweet cherry buttercream (I made from my favourite party frosting, Whipped Vanilla Frosting). I just found that it allowed the cake to set nicely without and slipping and sliding, and then I covered the entire cake in copious amounts of the old-fashioned frosting.

Cherry Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

This cake may not look fancy, but I can sincerely say it’s my current favourite. Cherry-Vanilla love. ♥

Cherry-Vanilla Delight Cake

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

Ingredients

    For the Cake Layers:
  • 3-1/3 cups (370 g) sifted cake flour
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (20 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (7 g) salt
  • 1-3/4 cups (415 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) cherry juice/syrup (from the jar of cherries)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.75 ml) almond extract
  • 1-2 drops cherry flavour, *optional
  • 2-1/4 cups (450 g) vanilla sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 1-1/2 sticks (173 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (178 ml) finely chopped maraschino cherries
  • For the Whipped Vanilla-Cherry Filling:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks)(227 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 2 cups (250 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) maraschino cherry juice/syrup (from the jar of cherries)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • a handful of finely chopped maraschino cherries
  • For Nanny's Old-Fashioned Frosting:
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup (200 grams) of vanilla sugar (you can substitute regular sugar)
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract (optional)

Instructions

    For the Cake Layers:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and center the oven rack. Grease, line with parchment and flour three round 8-inch pans. (I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease.) Put two of the pans on a baking sheet (you will bake two layers then the third layer afterwards).
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together the milk, eggs, cherry juice/syrup, almond extract and cherry flavor oil (if using) in a medium bowl or large glass measuring cup.
  3. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk or paddle attachment (I used the whisk), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until very pale and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  4. With the mixer still on medium speed, alternate additions of the flour mixture and milk-egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 dry additions, 2 wet), beating after each addition until incorporated. Continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in finely chopped cherries.
  5. Divide batter evenly among 3 cake pans, smoothing the surface with a small offset spatula or rubber spatula. Use a digital kitchen scale for accuracy (mine were 560 grams per pan + one 60 gram cupcake tester), if possible. Bake until a skewer comes out with a few crumbs only, about 30 minutes. Cakes should be well-risen and springy to the touch.
  6. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for 5 minutes, then loosen the edges by running a knife around the sides. Gently turn out the cakes, peel of parchment paper bottom, then cool right side up. Bake the third cake and repeat.
  7. For the Whipped Vanilla-Cherry Filling:
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 5 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  9. Add remaining ingredients, except the cherries, and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Filling will be very light, creamy, and fluffy. Fold in cherries.
  10. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency).
  11. For Nanny's Old-Fashioned Frosting:
  12. Place all ingredients except the vanilla (if using) into a large heatproof bowl that fits snugly atop a medium saucepan of simmering water on the stove (about one inch of water). Place the bowl tightly on top of the saucepan and beat the ingredients with a hand mixer until thick and glossy, about 5-7 minutes. Be sure that the bottom of your bowl does not touch the water.
  13. Remove the bowl from the saucepan, wipe the bottom of the bowl dry, and place on the counter. Continue to beat until the frosting is cool (or at least just slightly warm) and beat in the vanilla extract, if using.
  14. Best used right away.
  15. Assembly of the Cherry-Vanilla Delight Cake:
  16. Trim any doming or top crust from cake layers using a very sharp serrated knife.
  17. Use a cake turntable, if possible, for filling, frosting and decorating. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of a cake plate or 8″ round thin foil-covered cake board, and place the bottom cake layer on top, top side up (face-up).
  18. Place ~1 cup of Whipped Vanilla-Cherry Filling on top of the cake layer, and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife. Gently place 2nd cake layer, face up, on top. Repeat, then place your third layer face down.
  19. Put a generous scoop of Nanny's Old-Fashioned Frosting on top, spreading evenly from the top down to the sides until you have smothered the entire cake in the frosting. Use the back of a spoon or small offset palette knife to create the swirly texture. If you are creating the ombre effect, tint one third of your frosting with the gel colour of your choice and apply to the lower third of your cake, taking care to not over blend.

Notes

[cake layer recipe adapted from Taste and Tell]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes on the Cherry Cake Layers

  • Be sure to chop your cherries as tiny as possible so they distribute nicely throughout the cake.
  • This was the first time I had baked cake in pans upon a baking sheet, as per Dorie’s cake instructions, and I really felt this made the bottoms of the cake layers perfect. There was a very light, thin golden bottom on each cake.
  • I happened to have LorAnn Cherry Flavor Oil on hand, and although I don’t typically add this kind of candy flavouring to cakes, I felt that it would give the cherry taste a boost, and that it would be even more reminiscent of the beloved cherry chip cake mix. I added only two drops (it’s so concentrated), but I would do it again next time (and oh yes, there will be a next time).
  • As I mentioned, I keep a vanilla pod buried in my sugar canister at all times and I use that sugar for almost all of my baking and cooked frostings, etc. Once your vanilla bean is scraped and seeds and pod are buried in your airtight sugar container, you will have vanilla sugar in about 1-2 weeks. The longer it sits, the more vanilla you will taste. I typically add pure vanilla extract to recipes as well, but usually a little less than I normally would.
  • With every cake I bake, I like to place a cupcake liner into the same-size ramekin and fill 2/3 full with batter and bake along with the layers. That way I can taste test the cake before frosting, filling and serving.

Sweetapolita’s Notes on the Old-Fashioned Frosting

  • I used vanilla sugar for the frosting, so I didn’t add any additional vanilla extract.
  • You will want to make this frosting at the very last minute, right before you need to use it.
  • It goes on like a dream, but you will want to work quickly as it begins to thicken in the bowl.
  • Cakes frosted with this type of frosting are best enjoyed the day they are made.
  • This frosting does not store or keep well, but it is pure heaven the day it’s whipped up.
  • Pure white frosting makes a perfect base for gel colours–no buttery tone to work against! It makes for particularly lovely pink shades because the colours stay so true.

I’ll be back soon, my friends!

Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts:

Winter Delight Peppermint Cake

Earlier this season, the stunning, elegant and fabulously talented Camille from the entertaining site Camille Styles asked me to contribute to her 12 Tastes of Christmas series (which has been amazing so far, filled with everything from Candied Orange Peel to Winter Citrus Curd). Camille’s work and blog are centered around “creative parties and inspired entertaining,” so I knew that I wanted to create a little something special that I would like to serve at a holiday dinner or party, but that did not take hours and hours to prepare. So, I came up with this Winter Delight Peppermint Cake. Isn’t it funny how the moment the holiday season arrives, we seem to yearn for minty confections? And chocolate? And sparkles? Well, actually, that may be an all-year-long thing, but it’s definitely a much-welcomed winter treat, and I love bringing these flavours together with some contrast: dark fudgy chocolate layer cake filled with fluffy pastel mint frosting, fine-crushed peppermint candy (or as I like to call it, Peppermint Pixie Dust), and a generous coating of sanding sugar. In other words, winter in a cake!

Image Source 

Remember a little while ago, I was writing about some of the sources of inspiration I love? Well, among those was Pinterest, of course, where I came across this vintage Christmas card (a scanned childhood Christmas card of a fellow Flickr member). When I saw that beautiful holly & ivy-adorned glisteny dome (yes, I am creatively writing to avoid the word “muff,” forgive me!), I was suddenly needing to make a domed-style layer cake. I love the retro quality to it all, and it takes no extra time to make, bake, or frost, so why not? Sometimes I think the classic layer cake needs a twist, don’t you?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably got a flurry of baking (and other things) on the go at this time of year, so you might agree that fancy-but-fuss-free is a great approach to holiday dessert. Sure, we could stick with just fuss-free, but who doesn’t want to infuse a little fanciness into their holiday? With a simple (but delicious) one-bowl chocolate cake and a whipped version of a classic bakery frosting, I find this cake to be just the answer (not entirely fuss-free, but pretty close if you go with a simple topper). The cake’s unique dome shape paired with the sparkly sprinkling of white sanding sugar gives it a pretty finish that is actually pretty quick and easy to do. A contour cake pan is the easy trick (I used the 8″ Contour Cake Pan with Rounded Bottom Edge, 8 Inch x 3 Inch) to quickly achieving this shape with no carving (I avoid this at all costs), a generous sprinkling of the crushed peppermint candy between the layers and a simple “tossing” of coarse sugar onto the frosted cake adds a snowy twinkle (and a delightful sugar crunch!).

And of course fuss-free really does matter, because there’s just never enough time to get everything done over the holidays, particularly if you are entertaining (you know…planning, shopping, prepping, cooking, baking, cleaning, setting, decorating, hosting–no biggie, right?), but it’s wonderful when fuss-free tastes so good and pleases your crowd (a few oohs and aahs never hurts a hostess’ feelings either). This old-fashioned chocolate cake is dark and decadent (a good quality dark cocoa powder is key), and the whipped minted frosting is light with a supreme fluffiness (a simple extended whipping of the butter is to thank for this texture)–all with a subtle peppermint candy crunch hidden on top of each filling layer. From what I can tell, this combination never disappoints.

You can also add some glittery holly and ivy decorations for some fun and wintery vintage flair (you can even buy a faux-floral decoration or use your imagination–I think even a quirky ornament would be a cute topper!). I made mine by tinting a small bit of fondant raspberry pink and rolling 3 small “holly berries,” and then some green to cut 3 ivy leaves. I let dry and then dusted with edible glitter. I bet any sparkly little cake topper would add a unique touch, sugar or otherwise. I also loved the look of the sugary mint green cake sans adornment, so you truly can’t go wrong.

Happy Holidays!

Winter Delight Peppermint Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 8-inch round, domed cake (serves 10)

Moist, dark chocolate cake filled with fluffy peppermint frosting, crushed peppermint candy, and topped with sugar-coated peppermint frosting. The holidays in a cake!

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 3/4 cups (550 g) white sugar
  • 1 cup (120 g) dark unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Cacao Barry Extra Dark
  • 2.5 teaspoons (12 g) baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon (10 g) baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon (14 g) salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (280 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (280 ml) hot brewed coffee or espresso
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • For the Frosting:
  • 4.5 sticks (563 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 4.5 cups (720 g) confectioners' sugar (icing, powdered), sifted
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.75 ml) peppermint extract
  • pinch of salt
  • Few drops of green food colour + a few drops of pink (or a drop of red) food colour
  • Crushed peppermint candy, for sprinkling over each layer of filling
  • White sanding sugar for outside of cake (optional)

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare one round 8-inch cake pan with butter, a parchment paper round and cocoa powder. Tap out excess. Prepare an 8-inch contour pan with a generous greasing of butter and cocoa powder (or flour), and tap out excess.
  2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift and add all dry ingredients. In a larger measuring cup gently whisk together all remaining ingredients.
  3. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and mix on medium for 2 minutes (you will need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer). Pour into prepared pans--fill the cake pans 2/3 full. Batter will be liquidy.
  4. Bake until a toothpick or skewer comes almost clean, about 30 minutes (this is approximate and can vary) for the standard cake pan and about 40 minutes for the contour pan. Avoid opening oven door during the first 20 minutes of baking, and try not to over-bake.
  5. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes, then loosen edges with a small palette knife, and gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
  6. For the Frosting:
  7. 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.
  8. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low for 1 minute, then on medium for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
  9. If desired, tint ~2 cups of frosting pink (for filling) and remaining frosting mint green (for outside of cake).
  10. For a thicker frosting, you can add and whip in small amounts of icing sugar; for thinner frosting, you can add a touch more milk until it reaches desired consistency.
  11. Assembly of the Winter Delight Cake:
  12. Spread a small dollop of pink frosting onto desired cake plate or cake board (this keeps cake from shifting) and place your 8-inch cake layer (standard round), top-side facing up and trim top until flat, if necessary, using a long sharp serrated knife.
  13. Take your 8-inch contour cake, with bottom up, and trim any doming (from the the flat side), and then make 1 horizontal slice in the middle, resulting in 2 layers. You should now have 1 standard 8" layer and 2 layers from the contour pan, totaling 3 cake layers.
  14. Place 1 cup of peppermint frosting on top of your first layer and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife.Sprinkle a generous layer of the crushed peppermint candy on top of the frosting (I like it really fine, like peppermint a "pixie dust" of sorts, but slightly bigger pieces would be great too, giving more crunch), leaving about a 1" edge un-sprinkled.
  15. Gently place the next cake layer on top, with the more narrow end (contour side) up, then repeat previous step. Gently place the final cake layer, smooth domed side up, on top.
  16. Put a very generous scoop of mint green frosting on top, spreading evenly with a small offset palette knife and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. You will want to start with very generous additions of frosting, as much of it will be scraped off with your palette knife when smoothing. To keep the distinct rounded top, be sure to smooth over the domed top as much as possible. Chill until set -- about 30 minutes in refrigerator or 15 minutes in freezer.
  17. Remove from refrigerator/freezer and cover with remaining mint green frosting. Once your cake is frosted, you can place it (cake stand and all) over a cookie sheet and generously sprinkle with sanding sugar for an icy effect (you will actually need to "toss" sugar at the sides, but your cookie sheet will catch excess, allowing you to return remaining sugar to container when finished). Add wintery topper decoration, if desired.
  18. Store in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerator for 5 days. Best enjoyed at room temperature.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • Contour cake pans are available in many sizes at baking supply shops. I used 8″ Contour Cake Pan with Rounded Bottom Edge, 8 Inch x 3 Inch
  • You can also bake the cake layers in 3 standard 8″ pans, if you don’t have a contour pan or if you prefer a more classic cake shape.
  • The chocolate cake batter also makes delicious cupcakes. For a Winter Delight Peppermint Cupcakes, you can add a generous swirl of minty frosting and sprinkle with the crushed peppermint candy.
  • For a quick and tidy candy-crushing method (and to get out all of your holiday-induced stress), place your candy on a large cutting board with a tea towel on top and crush away using a meat pounder, or the like. The more you crush it, the finer it will be. Lift towel, and voila!
Good luck & enjoy!



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