Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy Birthday To You!

I love birthday parties! I mean, you get to dress up a little, hang out with friends, celebrate the birth of a loved one and feel justified when you splurge on a little extra calories after the birthday candles are blown out. And in my case, there is one more birthday party pro that also involves cake, I have an excuse to make a big one!

About two weeks ago my brother Bryan had a birthday party at my parent's place. I can not begin to describe how great it was to celebrate my brother with good friends. Not to mention there was great food, thanks to my mom, and, as I mentioned before, an opportunity for me to go a little bigger in my baking. 

I decided to make Baked's Malt-Ball Cake (can you tell I have been obsessed with their recipes lately), because I had a ton of malted milk powder leftover from my Malt Shop Crunch Ice Cream and Whoppers were way on sale. Plus I really wanted to make a layer cake, so there you go, a no brainer.

Of course excitement wasn't the only emotion I was feeling about this cake. Whenever I make layers cakes I always get nervous that the cake will be lopsided or that the cake's top layer will slip off completely, but I am happy to say I had no such problem with this recipe and would assume, if you try it, you won't either.

The taste was fab! The cake was dense with a subtle malt flavor that you probably would only be able to pick up if I told you it was in there. The chocolate frosting was a mix between a ganache and a buttercream and was very good. My mom said it was her new favorite chocolate frosting; I will say it was very good but I am partial to the chocolate buttercream I use for my Best Chocolate/Chocolate Cupcakes. Topped with malt balls, the overall effect and taste of the cake was impressive. It would look right at home in the glass case of a happening (I'm trying to bring back some old slang) yet homey bakery in NYC, much like Baked bakery is.

So here it goes!

Malt-Ball Layer Cake
*adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

Cake Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup malted-milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening 
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of ice water
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temp
Frosting and Garnish Ingredients
  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 10 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, cut in 1-inch cubes and softened
  • Whoppers
Cake Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 325. Butter and flour three 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. 

2. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, the malt powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg; set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on med. until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the dry ingredients in 3 batches at low speed, alternating with the ice water.

4. In another bowl, beat the egg whites at med-hi speed until soft peaks form. Then fold the egg whites into the batter until just fully incorporated. 

5. Divide the batter between the 3 cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans 20 minutes and cool out of the pans completely before removing the parchment and attempting frost or wrap up.

*I made my cakes the night before and plastic wrapped them tight for the next evening. It worked great and would highly recommend it, its a lot less stressful especially if you are baking for an event.

Frosting Directions

1. Place all the chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream just to the beginning of a boil, then remove from the heat. Add the corn syrup then immediately pour it over the chocolate; let it stand for 2-3 minutes until the chocolate melts, then whisk smooth. Let cool to room temp.

2. Transfer the cooled chocolate to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Gradually beat the butter in at med speed, a few chunks at a time, making sure to fully incorporate before each addition. It should be smooth and silky when you are finished. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or until the frosting is thick enough to hold its shape and not ooze everywhere when you frost the cake.

3. Place the firmest, most level cake on your cake stand or serving platter. Take four thin strips of parchment paper and wiggle them under the cake just enough to so that the whole circumference of the bottom of the cake is surrounded. This is to prevent making a frosting mess on your cake stand. See below.

4. Spread 1 1/4 cups of the frosting on top of the first layer, making sure to smooth level. Repeat this two more time with the other layers. Then frost the sides of the cake in a single thin layer, this is called the crumb layer, and refrigerate along with the remaining icing until the frosted sides firm up. Then frost the sides with the remaining frosting. Top with Whoppers, remove the parchment guard and refrigerate until servings. Take it out 30 minutes before serving to soften it up.

Cake Photo Shoot!

And just so you know its not always smiles and perfection in my kitchen, I am in fact quite a messy and disorganized baker, here is proof...

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