A holiday special from Baked Elements is up this week! Posting date is December 23.
Holiday Spice Cake with Eggnog Buttercream
Yield: One 8-inch, 3-layer cake
For the Holiday Spice Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, softened
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, plus 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups ice-cold water
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
3 tablespoons molasses
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the Eggnog Buttercream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cool but not cold, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons good-quality dark rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Decorations (silver dragees, pearl white nonpareils, luster dust, etc.)
Make the cake
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out the excess flour.
Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl. Stir to combine.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the whole egg, and beat until just combined.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the water, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. For each addition, turn the mixer to low to add the ingredients, then to medium speed for a few seconds until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and molasses until combined. Fold the mixture into the batter.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. (You can do this by hand. Don’t be intimidated; it should only take 2 to 3 minutes). Do not overbeat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the racks and let cool completely.
Make the Eggnog Buttercream
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, 8 to 12 minutes (as the mixture thickens you may have to stir more often to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan).
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool, at least 7 minutes. (You can speed up the process by pressing bags of frozen berries or frozen corn against the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.) Reduce the mixer 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, 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the rum, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.
Assemble the cake
Place one layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface and, using an offset or flat spatula, evenly spread about 1 1/4 cups frosting on top. Add the next layer, trim it and frost it, then add the third layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake and put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up. (This is known as a crumb coating; it helps keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake.) Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Decorate the cake and refrigerate it for 15 minutes to let it firm up before serving.
This cake will keep beautifully at room temperature, covered with a cake dome or in a cake saver, for up to 3 days if the weather is cool and dry. Otherwise, store the cake in the refrigerator, covered with a cake dome or in a cake saver, for up to 2 days. Let the cake sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.
Excerpted from Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Copyright © 2012 by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Excerpted by permission of Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Abrams. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.