My friend Susan had a party on Sunday night for the Oscars and requested that we all bring a dish that somehow related to one of the nominated movies or actors. I figured that baking my first cake from scratch is rather domestic (like Kate in Revolutionary Road) so I sought out a recipe to try. After looking at Smitten Kitchen and a few others, I settled on a recipe at the Kitchen Sink (I swear I have many other blogs that I enjoy I just seem to always be the most drawn to these recipes!) This recipe seemed perfect: I could finally use my 9 inch cake pans for a layer cake and give splitting a whole vanilla bean (and getting to make vanilla sugar with the leftovers) a try.
The cake recipe uses 9 egg whites. I almost bought a jug of just egg white at the store but that alone cost more than a dozen cage-free eggs so I decided to figure out a use for the leftover yolks (which are still in the fridge so they will probably get thrown out…ekk).
The batter came together quickly and the cakes were in the oven. I took them out at the specified time, let them sit in their pans and then flipped them out onto the drying racks. After flipping the first one back right side up, I decided to leave the second one upside down on the drying rack which was a mistake (or a blessing depending on how you look at it) because the center of the cake dripped into a puddle. Somehow one of the cakes wasn’t done! I tested it with a toothpick so I don’t know what happened. I put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes but the center was pretty well done for.
After the cakes had cooled, I decided to just slice off the destroyed top of the cake, and use the bottom (which was still fine) for a layer. So I had a 3 layer cake, instead of four.
The ganache was even simpler to make. I simply heated up a pint of heavy cream slowly and whisked in 12 ozs of finely chopped good quality bittersweet chocolate. Put the mixture into a bowl and let it chill in the fridge while the cakes are cooling. I brought it back up to room temp before icing the cake.
It wasn’t the prettiest cake since the layers were a little lopsided and I didn’t have a good tool to really spread the ganache on pretty but man it tasted good. Not too sweet, rich without being overpowering, very classy and adult…if I do say so myself.
2 Cups Heavy Cream
12 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate; chopped reasonably fine
Bring cream to a simmer in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate until smooth. Transfer ganache to a bowl and chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thickened but spreadable, about 1-2 hours.
1 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 cup whole milk
9 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 vanilla bean, scraped
4 1⁄2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
2 1⁄4 cups sugar
Preheat oven to 350.
Butter and flour two 9- inch round cake pans, tapping out excess flour; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, milk, egg whites, and vanilla extract and beans; set aside. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until combined, about 2 minutes.
Working in several batches, alternately add the flour mixture and milk mixture, ending with milk mixture. Beat after each addition until the mixture is just combined.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cakes are beginning to brown around the edges and a tester comes out clean.
Let cakes cool in their pans on a rack for about 5 minutes. Remove the cakes from their pans and allow to cool completely.
If the cakes are domed, slice off the domed portion to create a flat cake. Slice each cake horizontally into two even rounds. Set one of the four layers on a cake stand, slipping pieces of parchment paper between the layer and the stand. Using an offset spatula, slather the top of the cake layer with frosting. Top it with another layer and repeat with the next two layers. Finally, place the fourth (last) layer on top and heap on the remaining frosting. Smooth the frosting out over the top and down onto the sides of the cake.
Allow the cake to set for at least an hour before slicing and serving.