I love babies. Ok. Weird way to start the blog, but it's true. Especially when my friends are having them and I get to eat in their honor. There seems to be a baby boom right now. A handful of girlfriends either just had or are about to have babies. It's a very exciting time! And a slap in the face of my age. I am at THAT age.
In any case, we celebrated one of these beautiful mothers-to-be recently and I volunteered to be the cake lady, per usual. I waffled over what flavor I would go for. Chocolate and Peanut Butter? Lemon and Raspberry? Vanilla and Strawberry? Double Chocolate? Be creative? Go with a classic? There was a lot of pressure. In the end I went classic-ish.
The cake stack went like this: Chocolate Cake + Raspberry Preserves + Vanilla Cake + Chocolate Ganache + Chocolate Cake + Raspberry Preserves + Vanilla Cake... Iced that whole pile with Vanilla Buttercream, added a chocolate ganache drizzle and studded with mini chocolate chips. It was truly divine. Decadent and divine.
Served along before the sugar coma came on, we had a buffet of smoked salmon piled high on brown bread, teriyaki chicken salad phyllo cups, cucumber tea sandwiches, chia seed pudding, farmers market vegetable soup, raspberry scones, fruit, veg and hummus, lemon pound cake, apple crumble, and more Irish butter to generously butter the delightful brown bread and scones than a room full of women knew what to do with it.
Always a good time with girls. Let me know if you need some party planning services... I know some people ;)
While this cake has a whole lot going on, and it's worth the effort, you can definitely cheat a bit here... cake in a box is delicious and I won't tell. You can also opt to double the recipe of one of the cake flavors instead of doing a vanilla AND a chocolate and it will be just as good. Plus, I am always a proponent of letting the grocery store do the heavy lifting with the raspberry jam. It's all good and is all about the joy of eating it together, then napping together when the sugar crash hits.
The Recipe: Vanilla and Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache
~ yields 1- 9 inch (4 layer) cake... roughly 12-16 servings
The Bits and Bobs:
Vanilla (White) Cake:
1 cup whole milk
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 cups cake or all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
5 egg whites
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable, canola, or coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
2 cups cake or all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
raspberry preserves (store bought is great)
12 oz mini chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup heavy cream (plus 1 additional tablespoon for drip topping)
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
I recommend making one cake flavor at time, starting the second once you have released the first from the cake pans to finish cooling. Both cakes will need a preheated 350*F oven and two 9-inch cakes pans which you have greased with cooking spray or butter.
Vanilla Cake How-Tos:
Stir together the milk and vanilla and set aside. Mix together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Alternate adding the flour mix, then the milk mixture (as Flour + Milk + Flour + Milk + Flour) and beat on low, if using a stand mixer, until just blended.
Beat the egg whites until you reach stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the cake batter. Pour the batter evenly into each of the pans.
Bake at 350*F for 23-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and the edges have just pulled away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to finish cooling.
Chocolate Cake How-Tos:
Mix together the milk, oil, eggs and vanilla in a big bowl. Add all of the dry ingredients and mix together until well combined. Add the boiling water slowly and mix until smooth.
Pour batter evenly between two greased pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean and the edges have slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to finish cooling.
Chocolate Ganache How-Tos:
Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a heavy bottom pot over low-medium heat (you want to just start to see bubbles around the edges). Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Stir slowly until smooth.
Vanilla Buttercream How-Tos:
Beat the softened butter in a big bowl until creamy. Add the sugar, cream, vanilla and salt and continue to beat until light and fluffy. With a stand mixer this will take a full 3 minutes on high speed. You want the volume to increase slightly. If the frosting seems too thick add a touch more cream, or if it's too thin, a little more powdered sugar.
Assembling Your Cake:
Level the tops of each cake layer with a serrated knife before you start. Place one chocolate cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Fill a piping bag (or ziploc with a corner snipped off) with about half of the vanilla buttercream. Squeeze a ring of buttercream along the edge of the first cake layer. This ring will prevent either of the fillings from spilling out and changing the color of the outer frosting. Fill this first ring with a couple of tablespoons of the raspberry preserves. Spread evenly to the edges of the frosting.
Next place a vanilla cake layer on top, being sure to stack evenly to prevent a leaning cake. press down very lightly to ensure contact of the layers. Using the piping bag, create another frosting ring along the edges of this layer. Fill with a couple of tablespoons of the chocolate ganache and spread to the edges of the layers.
Repeat with another layer of chocolate cake and raspberry preserves, then top off with the final layer of vanilla cake. Frost the top of the last vanilla cake layer and the sides of the whole cake with a thin layer of buttercream. You will only need a thin layer at this point to lock any stray crumbs. Once you have that initial layer on, place in fridge for 15 minutes. Remove the cake from the fridge and finish frosting with the remaining buttercream, smoothing out the sides and the top with the flat edge of your spatula. Return the whole cake to the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
At this point you should still have some of the chocolate ganache from the filling remaining. Add 1 tablespoon of cream to the left over ganache and melt in the microwave for 15-30 seconds. It should be more liquified or drippy than the consistency of the filling, but NOT piping hot. Remove the cake from the fridge. Using a spoon, drizzle some of the warm ganache onto and slightly spilling over the edges of the cake to create the dripping effect. Finish by pouring the remaining warm ganache into the center of the top of the cake, and smooth with an offset spatula, pushing to the edges to connect with the drips you just created. It is ok if a little more spills over the edges.
Finally, sprinkle some of the left over mini chocolate chips over the top and onto the sides and bottom of the cake (this part is optional).
You can refrigerate the cake at this point, but be sure to remove at least one hour before serving to bring back up to room temp. You can also freeze any remaining cake wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and a freezer bag for up to 2 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and remove one hour before serving.