Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Vanilla Bean Yellow Cake and Caramel Buttercream Frosting

I know...I know...I'm a total slacker. I told you I would post this yummy cake..and I'm just now getting to it. I have a good excuse...its almost thanksgiving and I have a 25 pound turkey staring at me right now!

I’m very excited about today. For one…I can totally redeem my hardships from TWD last week, and two, I stepped outside my comfort zone and tried 2 new recipes.

It was my brother-in-laws girlfriends’ birthday last week and the family got together to celebrate. So naturally, I volunteered to make the cake. I felt a little apprehensive when I asked what her favorite cake was and found out it was a yellow cake with caramel icing.
Now you might think, ok, yellow cake should be something easy to find right? Well for me, no! And Caramel Icing? Good luck finding a recipe for it. As you may have come to know I am an avid researcher and since my first love is chocolate…so far chocolate cake is the one cake I have truly conquered. My last yellow cake I made, I was really just ‘so-so’ about. I had to kick it into high gear last week and cross my fingers that whatever recipe I tried was going to work….b/c it had to!

This week, I busted out about 10 of my cake books (yes, I am a cookbook hoarder) to seek out not only a better yellow cake recipe, but a caramel icing recipe. Out of ALL my cake/cupcake/baking books….not a single one had caramel icing. And I own “The Cake Bible”! Shouldn’t something called the bible have all the answers? LOL! Then I leafed through my personal recipe files of things I have pulled off the internet that I keep in a THICK 3 ring binder. Low and behold, my first frosting recipe is a caramel buttercream from good ol’ Martha Stuart! I combined that with my thanksgiving issue of “Fine Cooking” magazine (which just happened to explain the technique of a perfect caramel) BINGO!

My next feat was settling on a yellow cake recipe. I don’t know about any of you, but when I look for a cake recipe, it has to have buttermilk in the ingredients. I know, sounds silly, but compare two cakes with and without. The taste difference is amazing. The Joy of Cooking had just what I was looking for.

My cake came together without a hitch. Now if I could just take some cake decorating classes, I could improve the design. Hey it’s all about flavor for me anyway!

Yes, I designed the cake plate myself. The birthday girl LOVES green and pink.

Yellow Buttermilk cake
Recipe derived from “Joy of Cooking”

Dry Ingredients whisk together and set aside:
2 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (I used regular all-purpose and it worked just fine)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Cream Mixture:
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar

Whisk together lightly and set aside:
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
I added : 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (discard bean or use for vanilla sugar)

1 Cup Buttermilk

1. Cream butter with paddle attachment until creamy. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Then, gradually beat in the eggs/vanilla mixture. Beat for about 2 minutes.
2. On the lowest speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in 3 parts ending with the flour.
3. Pour batter into (2) 8-inch round cake pans lined with parchment on the bottom or greased and floured. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Caramel Buttercream
Courtesy of: Martha Stewart
Makes 8 cups
All you need!

2 ¼ Cups sugar (divided)
½ Cup heavy cream
1 ½ pounds (6 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
9 egg whites
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. To make the caramel: In a medium saucepan combine 1 ¼ cups sugar and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Brush down the sides of the pot with a moist pastry brush. (I put a lid half way over the pot to keep the crystallization down. Continue to cook, and do not stir, but swirl the pan until the caramel becomes a dark amber color (similar to a lighter maple syrup). Remove from heat and slowly stir in the heavy cream with a wooden spoon until combined. Set pan aside to cool completely.

This is what the carmel should look like when its done

2. In a mixing bowl beat the butter until creamy and pale.
3. In a clean mixing bowl mix together the remaining 1 cup of sugar and egg whites. Set bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk gently until sugar is dissolved. (about 3 minutes)
4. Transfer bowl to a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the whites on medium speed until fluffy and cooled. This should take about 10 minutes. Increase the speed to high and mix until you have stiff peaks. Then reduce the speed to MEDIUM-LOW and add the butter ¼ cup at a time. Beat well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
5. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the caramel to the meringue mixture on the lowest speed for about 3-5 minutes.

Seriously, this buttercream method creates THE fluffiest frosting you will EVER encounter...its WELL worth the work.

6. You can leave it at room temp if you plan on using it the same day, otherwise store the buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring it back to room temperature before beating until fluffy.

Ok so not the most even frosting job...but...we will get there. I told you...its TASTE that matters.
Me and the Birthday Girl!
Happy Birthday "A"!

1 comment:

vibi said...

Beautifull cake! Very nicely and delicately achieved decorations. Well done challenge... and a happy Birthday to the "pink and green loving girl"!!! (I do too, love pink and green together!) LOL

P.s.: If you need, I'll be glad to help you with the TWD image link in your column (or anything else you might have trouble with) Just write directly to me, on my blog's e-mail link, so that I can explain better on your e-mail.