Monday, December 13, 2010

Triple Crown

We were recently invited to celebrate a dear friend’s 40th birthday. Since the guest list was small, we were honored to be included and I did exactly what you would expect of me – offered to make her birthday cake. Well, why not? After all, I did the same thing for her husband’s birthday last year.

Of course, I made THREE cakes (plus cupcakes) for his birthday. That presented a bit of a dilemma as I didn’t want to insult her by providing any less, even though there was a significant difference in the anticipated number of attendees. “Oh well,” I thought. “I’ll make three cakes anyway and dispense with the cupcakes.”

Now that meant I was making three triple layer cakes for a total of eighteen people. More is better though, right?

I emailed my friend’s husband to ask what she might like. His response?

“Can't remember if I already emailed this to you.... A sign of aging, perhaps?
After all, my 40th was so last year.

Her only preference for cakes is that she prefers white cake and buttery frostings, typically. That said, she would scrap all of that for your Very Good Chocolate cake. So, that's as clear as mud, isn't it?”

Clear as mud indeed. So much for my idea of one of my famous German chocolate cakes. White cake and buttery frosting, huh? The thought didn’t do much for me, but l aim to please!

Remember those Sweet and Salty Brownies from Baked  that I posted about recently?  The reason I bought both of their books is because one had that brownie recipe and the other had a cake recipe with my name on it. (You’ll understand why when I tell you what it is).  As I perused it for ideas, I came across their recipe for Whiteout Cake. Perfect! They suggested pairing it with their Sweet and Salty Cake. Even more perfect, since that was the recipe I bought the book for in the first place. Add the Very Good Chocolate Cake (posted here on 11/2/10, see labels) and I had a plan!

Since the party was on Saturday, I made the frostings and cake layers on Thursday and assembled everything on Friday. Then prayed to the heavens that the layers wouldn’t slide around overnight or turn into another “crater cake.” They didn’t, probably because I placed them in the coldest room here and refused to turn on the heat in the house. Bear in mind the high was 27-degrees that day. Henry has yet to recover.

Here’s the recipe for the Whiteout Cake. It has a tender crumb and the frosting is sumptuous. I couldn’t resist tinkering with it though – I wanted to add a little more taste and pizazz. I brushed the cake with raspberry syrup and sandwiched seedless raspberry jam as well as the white buttercream between the layers. Fantastic!

WHITEOUT CAKE (adapted from Baked)

For the cake layers:
2 ½ cups cake flour
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg (I used extra-large)
1 ½ cups ice water
3 egg whites, room temperature (I used extra-large)
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Dust with flour and knock out excess.

Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl then add sugar and beat for an additional 5 minutes. Add vanilla and the egg and beat until just combined. Turn the mixer to low, then add the flour mixture alternately with the ice water. Scrape down the bowl, then mix until just combined.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Do not overbeat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Divide the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.

For the frosting:
6 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped (do not use white chocolate chips)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups whole milk (do not use reduced fat)
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool and diced into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Use a double boiler or microwave to melt the white chocolate. Set aside to cool.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool. You can test this by feeling the bottom of the bowl. If it is cool, then proceed with the recipe. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla and white chocolate and continue mixing until smooth and well-combined. If frosting is too soft, put in refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it reaches proper consistency. If too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until spreadable.

For the raspberry filling:
12 oz. frozen raspberries
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup liqueur, such as Chambord, Cassis or Scandinavian Berry
1 cup seedless raspberry preserves
White nonpareils

Place raspberries and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook and stir until raspberries start to soften then reduce heat to medium low and cook until mixture is liquid and raspberries break down. Add liqueur, increase heat to medium-high and reduce until mixture is syrupy and alcohol is burned off. Strain.

To assemble the cake:
Place a dollop of the frosting on a serving plate to serve as “glue” to anchor the cake. Place a cake layer over and poke holes in it with a skewer or toothpick. Brush some of the raspberry syrup over, allowing it to soak into the layer. Place a few tablespoons of the raspberry jam over and spread to coat thinly. Cover with a layer of the buttercream frosting. Repeat this for the next layers.

Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides to crumb coat the cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up, then frost generously with remaining frosting, smoothing sides. Coat sides with nonpareils and swirl top.

Serves 8 – 12

As usual, I have a few comments. No, actually I have only one comment and that is beware of those nonpareils. They are like little, tiny cannonballs and they will hurl themselves all over your kitchen floor and various other parts of your house as you attempt to apply them to the sides of your cake. THEY BOUNCE!!!!! I dragged out the vacuum cleaner at the onset, but I am still encountering these lethal little balls scattered about on my kitchen floor five days out.

I'm my own tough critic, but I thought this was pretty good.  I'd even make it again ... nonpareils and all!


  1. birthday is in August and it is coming up !!!! I like to plan ahead


  2. So I am the lucky birthday girl with a long and lasting love for Liz and her cakes! And please understand this was the most incredible collection of cakes I have ever seen or tasted and tasted and tasted. I had cake for breakfast the next day but don't tell my 3 boys -- they had cereal. The white cake is every bit as delicious as it looks in these pictures. And the chocolate/caramel cake was sprinkled with salt and made people giddy. Last but not least -- the Watershed Very Good Chocolate Cake was adored by many and went home in several purses. I am still hording the last slivers of the chocolate caramel because I can, because it tastes so good and it was made from the heart with such love from Liz -- who has loved us in many ways for many years. Thank you with all my heart!! Jesica

  3. great photos of the process, esp the one with the cute dogs in it! i love your blog!