I love birthday cake. I REALLY love to make those dreamy, tall, layer cakes, covered in billows of frosting and sprinkles. A real proper, leave you in a sugar coma, birthday cake. Nothing makes me happier than baking a cake for the birthday of someone near and dear to my heart, like this one I made for a friend yesterday (with my sous chef Morgan).
To my fantastically funny, smart, and kind friend. I hope the year ahead leaves you delirious with joy, overflowing in peace, and that somehow you get a bootleg recording of Don Giovanni.
White Layer Cake with Blood Orange Curd Filling
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes two 9-inch cakes
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk
8 large egg whites
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment paper rounds. Grease parchment, and then dust with flour. Tap out excess flour and then set aside.
Into a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and then set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 2 cups of sugar until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk and beginning and ending with flour; beat until just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and then set aside.
In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 minutes. Do not overbeat. Gently fold a third of the beaten egg-whites into the batter to lighten. Fold only until combined, there will still be some white streaks. Then gently fold in the remaining whites.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared pans, and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake until the cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 20 minutes. Turn the cakes onto rack and peel off parchment. Turn the cakes again and let them cool completely, top sides up.
Once cool, using a serrated knife, trim tops of cake layers to make level. Cut each layer into two even layers. Place one layer on a serving plate, cut side up. Using a pastry bag fitted with a coupler, pipe frosting around the perimeter. This dam will prevent the blood orange curd filling from seeping out. Fill cake with one third of the blood orange curd, about a scant ¾ cup. Repeat with two more cake layers. Place final layer bottom side up and frost entire cake with frosting swirling to cover.
Blood Orange Curd
Adapted from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax
12 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
¾ cup blood orange juice
¼ cup lemon juice
16 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
zest of 1 blood oranges
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin
the juice of one blood orange
Place the egg yolks, sugar, blood orange, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over low heat, whisking constantly. Whisk until the curd thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon approximately 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk the cold butter into the curd a few pieces at a time until they are melted and all of the butter is incorporated. Whisk the zest in. Sprinkle the gelatin over the blood orange juice. Let this sit for 5 minutes or until the gelatin softens and the liquid is absorbed. Heat in the microwave in 10 second bursts until completely melted. Stir into the curd then, let cool and refrigerate. Before using whisk well to remove any lumps. Makes about a 2 cups.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes about 8 cups
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 large egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine sugar, corn syrup, ¼ cup water, and egg whites. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.
Attach bowl to a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat mixture on high speed until glossy and voluminous, about 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Use immediately.