So, this happened:
I finally made a cake so tall the lid on my giant cake carrier smooshed it. Thankfully the book club gals didn’t mind, and gleefully attacked it all the same.
This cake was adapted from a Martha Stewart chocolate caramel layer cake, and I clearly made a teeny tiny error in my adaptation….see, the original recipe was an open faced 2 layer cake, but I wanted to ice this baby. To make this a three layer cake, I doubled the recipe, and figured it would just add a wee-bit of height to the layers. Clearly, I was wrong:
Well now, I suppose part of the problem must be attributed to the fact my salted caramel buttercream layers are AS THICK as the cake. But if the subject lines of every other email in my spam folder is any indication, being “thick and 12 inches” is seen as a good things, so….yea, happy mistake.
-2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
-2 1/4 cup sugar
-1 cup plus 2 tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
-2 1/4 tsp baking soda
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-6 tbsp neutral vegetable oil
-1 cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk
-1 cup plus 2 tbsp brewed coffee, cooled to room temp
-3 large eggs, at room temp
-1 tbsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of 3 8-inch baking pans with parchment. Grease and flour. Set aside.
1. Combine all dry ingredients in bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low speed to combine.
2. Add all the wet ingredients to the bowl. Mix on low speed to combine.
3. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
5. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn out and cool completely before removing parchment.
That’s it. Seriously.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
-1 cup sugar
-1/4 cup water
-1/4 cup heavy cream
-generous pinch of salt (I used fleur de sel)
-4 large egg whites
-3 sticks butter, at room temp
1. Place 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp of sugar in a medium saucepan.
2. Pour water over sugar.
3. Cover and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
4. Once boiling, remove lid. Continue boiling until syrup begins to darken, around 300 degrees on a candy thermometer.
5. Turn heat down to medium-low, and continue cooking as you closely eye the syrup. When it is a deep amber color, 350 degrees on a candy thermometer, remove immediately from heat.
6. Slowly add the cream, and whisk to combine.
7. Add salt. Let cool completely.
8. Combine egg whites and remaine 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar in heatproof bowl set atop simmering water.
9. Heat, whisking frequently, until the sugar has completely dissolved. (Don’t trust your eyes on this one–rub the mixture between your fingers!)
10. Transfer to a bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until it has doubled and stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes.
11. Reduce speed to medium and add butter 1 stick at a time.
12. Beat until buttercream frosting comes together–this can take as long as 15 minutes, so be patient!
13. Add in the cooled caramel and mix until fully incorporated, stopping to scrape down bowl.
See how the color changes??
-12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
-1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa
-1/4 very hot water
-18 tbsp butter, at room temp
-1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp powdered sugar
1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Let cool to room temperature.
2. In a small bowl, combine the water and cocoa powder. Stir until smooth. Marvel at how it is indistinguishable from the melted chocolate.
3. Combine butter, powdered sugar and salt in bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the melted chocolate and mix until smooth.
5. Add the water-cocoa powder mixture and mix until smooth.
*Note: Once assembled, my frosting needed to be chilled for 30 minutes until it was thick enough to be spread over the cake. However, this was not noted in the original recipe, so perhaps my kitchen runs warm. Use your judgement.
Melted chocolate or water+cocoa powder????
To assemble, place one cake layer on cake board or plate. Spread 1/2 of the buttercream over it. Top with another layer of cake. Spread remaining buttercream over cake layer. Place last cake layer on top. Frost the cake from the top down.
*Note on frosting a cake: When my Mom first taught me how to frost a cake, I was maybe 7 or 8 years old, she told me to “push, not spread” the frosting. This is true for all frosting–it’s not butter–but never more applicable than for a cake like this one. The thick layer of buttercream needs to be swathed in frosting, too, and if you try to spread the frosting you’ll just end up mixing the two. Throw a big hunk of frosting on the cake, and just “push” it.
Sprinkle the top with fleur de sel. And if you’re a real caramelaholic, drizzle some MORE salted caramel sauce on top when you slice it….
I wanted to serve this with my salted caramel sauce from the stuffed cupcakes I made a couple weeks ago, so I whipped up a batch and jarred it for my girl friends as a Valentine’s Day gift: