Recipe: Vanilla Caramel Cake from Cake Thursday on Monday, June 6
PALE VANILLA LAYER CAKE (recipe adapted from Dorrie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake in Baking from My Home to Yours)
Oven: 350 degrees
Butter/Flour/Parchment two 9" cake pans
In a medium bowl, sift together 2 1/4 cups cake flour, 1 tbsp baking power, and 1/2 tsp salt.
In a liquid measuring cup (at least 2 cup capacity), whisk together 1 1/4 c whole milk and 4 large egg whites.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 1 stick of softened unsalted butter with 1 1/2 cups sugar until very light and fluffy. Beat in 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract until well-incorporated. Adjusting the mixer to low speed, beat in 1/2 of the milk/egg mix followed by 1/2 of the dry mix. Once incorporated, add the rest of the milk/egg mixture, followed with the remaining dry ingredients. Beat the batter on medium speed for two minutes to ensure that everything well mixed.
Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until the top springs back slightly when touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the layers cool in the pans for ten minutes or so before removing to racks to cool completely.
VANILLA SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM (adapted from recipe adapted from Dorrie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake in Baking from My Home to Yours)
Measure 1 cup sugar and 4 large egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk together and set over a sauce pan of simmering water. Continue to whisk the sugar and egg whites until the mixture is shiny and hot (I test for this like a parent does a baby bottle—with a drop on my wrist). Remove from the heat and attach the bowl to the mixer which is fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until the bowl is cool to the touch, five minutes or so.
Switch to the paddle attachment and, at medium speed, add 3 sticks of softened unsalted butter a few tablespoons at a time. Once all of the butter is in, mix in 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, then let the whole lot beat on medium-high speed until it's fluffy and smooth (should take somewhere between 6 to 10 minutes).
CARAMEL SAUCE (adapted from Gesine Bullock-Prado's Sugar Baby)
Note: For my cake, I halved her original recipe, and have given the version I made below.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan gently stir together 3/4 cups sugar, 1/8 cup water, 1/2 tsp. lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp. salt with a wooden spoon. Set the pan over medium heat and let the concoction cook undisturbed until the color changes to a medium dark copper color. Watch closely as this happens in the blink of an eye.
Remove the pan from heat and slowly add 1/2 cup room-temperature heavy cream to the cooked sugar. It will bubble like crazy, so be careful and patient. Stir in 1 tbsp of softened unsalted butter and return the pan to the stove. Clip on a candy thermometer and heat to a soft boil until the caramel sauce reaches 240 degrees. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
To assemble, spread a generous portion of the cooled caramel sauce atop the bottom layer of the cake. Follow this with a generous layer of buttercream. Top with the second cake layer and do a thin crumb coat of buttercream over the entire cake. Put in the fridge and let cool for 15 or 20 minutes. Remove and frost with the remaining buttercream. Pour the remaining caramel sauce over the top of the cake, spreading lightly with a small off-set spatula to help it spill over the sides.
Serve the cake at room temperature. It's a good one.