Modern Baker Challenge: Whipped Cream Layer Cake

As per usual, rather than complete the assignment of the day (pies!  this shouldn’t be hard!) I am jumping ahead in the Modern Baker Challenge.  I have been looking ahead at the Cakes chapter with excitement and trepidation.  Excitement because–well, do I have explain?  CAKE!  Trepidation because, who is going to eat all this sugary output?

I had a flash of inspiration when preparing for an upcoming family get-together over the 4th of July weekend.  A captive audience in a town of under 3000 in rural Vermont combined with the need to use up 2 cups of delicious Jersey cream from the Berkshires led to Nick Malgieri’s Whipped Cream Layer Cake (with Whipped Cream Caramel Frosting).

This cake is made by folding whipped cream into the batter, a method which instantly caught my interest for its departure from the usual butter and milk combination.   (In fact, the whipped cream fills the role of both).  You have the pleasure of making something unique without having to hunt down bizarre ingredients or successfully accomplish some complicated tour-de-force in the kitchen.  And it’s incredibly easy, especially if you ignore Malgieri’s instructions to whip 1 1/2c of cream by hand and use your hand mixer.

Slightly more nervewracking was making the caramel concentrate for the frosting.  (First you make what you might think of as a “flavor base” of caramel mixed with a half a cup of cream; once cool you whip this together with even more heavy cream).  I always worry when making caramel thanks to an attempt making flan in high school which resulted in me splattering myself with burnt hot sugar. (Really, it wasn’t that bad, maybe a few tiny welts on my left hand, but the memory is vivid).  Even without the threat of self-injury, it’s really easy to burn your caramel as it continues to darken even after you’ve turned off the flame.

Once you make the caramel, you heat the cream and add it to the burnt sugar.  While the cream warmed, I ran the sides of the caramel pot under cold water to cool things down and stop the cooking as I was afraid I’d let the whole hot mess go too far.  I think it may have helped, and even better, adding the cream to the liquid sugar was surprisingly undramatic.  (Nick warns you to beware, as adding hot cream to hot caramel may cause a rapid foaming up of molten hot caramel over the sides of your pot!  Flashbacks!).  I did have to stir a bit to get things mixed, since the caramel was cooler than it might otherwise have been, but it all worked out.

Lest you think I am able to perform magic feats of keeping a frosted cake in perfect condition (and unmelted) on a 2 hour drive to Vermont, I’ll admit that I carried the baked cake up in the buff and held the caramel base in a small pyrex bowl in the cooler.  Two days later I mixed in two cups of cream into the caramel bases, whipped it up and frosted the cake. 

As you can see, my sous-chef was happy to help frost the cake and was very excited to help me carry the finished work to the table. 

Despite being baked on a Friday night and being served on a Sunday, the cake was perfectly fresh, light, and moist.  Its subtle vanilla flavor melded well with the golden caramel flavored icing, and with 12 at the table, it soon enough disappeared.


21 thoughts on “Modern Baker Challenge: Whipped Cream Layer Cake

  1. I made this a long time ago before I had much experience with caramel, and I didn’t cook it long enough so my whipped caramel frosting had barely any caramel flavor! I remember it being really good otherwise though.

      • I wish I never opened this post! Rufus’ Food was so correct…it looks amazing. I just made a deal with my sisters that we were cutting out ALL sugar. After our out of control vacation, we need a bit of detox and now this. Oh, the horror. Looks yummy though!!

      • Ha. We three can relate to the vows to cut sugar. I hope you fare better than us. At least you’ll be glad that participants in the Modern Baker Challenge don’t post recipes 😉 (I always wonder how interesting it is for those not baking along if we tell you we’ve cooked something fabulous and then don’t tell you how to make it for yourself!)

  2. Sara, my favorite thing about all your posts are the pictures of your sous chef. Not because the content isn’t interesting and inspiring, but just because he is just so darned cute!

  3. Your cake looks great!!! Working ahead again, as usual. You must have been quite the student in school!

    It looks like your sous chefs did a great job, especially in the clean up department.

    I’d love to use this as the official post when we get to this section. Remind me when the time comes. Thanks.

  4. Your cake looks fantastic! And so original at the same time! When I first read the name, I thought “oh, another layered cake with whipped cream in between the layers”, but I would have never guessed it was in the batter! It’s a trick I would love to experiment with. Maybe this is also the reason why the cake kept for so long? My experience with caramel is also not very positive, although I have never been burnt (yet!).

    • It’s a fun twist isn’t it? As for caramel, at least it’s not too expensive to practice on, even if it IS hard to get right. If I figure out the secret, I’ll post about it, but until then…

  5. I’m looking for three cakes this month, lot of birthdays! This could well be one of them…that spoon licking thing makes it tough to resist, doesn’t it? Looks great.

    • Yes, especially as I’ve checked it out and it’s passed the “do ahead” test! (Must be all that fat that keeps it preserved…heh heh).

  6. p.s., your pictures are swell Sara! There are a few recipes that I would love to try from your site, like the apricot scones, the onion miche, that lovely scape pizza, although I’ve no access to garlic shoots…


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