This cake was inspired by the brilliant guys of Baked. I say inspired by, because I hardly kept anything the same. I did use the huge amount of water in the batter, and I held to their fat-lour ratio, but that’s really about it. I didn’t use the same fats, or even the same flours. My obsession with brown sugar struck again, and I even opted for a different frosting since I’ve always wanted to try an egg yolk buttercream.
It was delicious, but if you live in the South, you should learn from my mistake and never make a buttercream in July. Especially not for a cake you have to cart to work two cities from your kitchen. That frosting will melt, and you will watch your happy little frosting stars turn into yellow slime. On the plus side, the molten frosting did soak into the (already velvet-soft) cake and made it even moister. Also, even though there’s a whole cup of malt powder in there, the flavor is surprisingly subtle. Mr. B does not care for malt at all, and even he clamored for a piece of this cake.
Ingredients (makes a 3-tier 8-inch cake. Serves 12)
For the cake:
3 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1 cup malt powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 T vanilla extract
2 cups cold water
4 large egg whites
For the frosting:
4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 T vanilla extract
nutmeg to taste
Whoppers, for garnish
Cream sour cream and butter together.
Add sugars and mix them in, too.
Sift dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, malt powder) into the butter and sugars. I know, it’s really dry. It’ll be okay.
Pour the water over the batter, wait about 30 seconds for it to start soaking in
Mix the water in thoroughly.
Separate egg whites from yolks.
Whip the heck out of those whites. It’s a good way to get aggression out.
Fold the whites into the batter until only a few faint streaks of egg white remain.
Pour the batter evenly among three buttered and parchment papered pans. Bake at 325°F for 40-45 minutes. Once the cakes are cooling, get started on the buttercream.
Bring the sugar and water to a boil over high heat. Bring it to the soft ball stage.
While the sugar is cooking, put the four yolks in a bowl.
Whip the yolks until they’re very pale and increased in volume. This takes about 8 minutes. Don’t get too excited, they’re not egg whites and they don’t fluff up.
Pour the sugar syrup into the yolk, beating constantly. I use a hand mixer, so pictures weren’t really an option here. Keep beating the sugar-and-yolks until they’re room temperature. This can also take a few minutes. Someday, I will purchase a stand mixer and stop hurting my poor books by reading while mixing.
Cut the butter into the frosting base and mix well.
Add the vanilla and nutmeg and mix again.
It would be a good idea to chill the buttercream and probably the cakes, too at this point. I’m lazy. I didn’t.
Spread a layer of frosting over a layer of cake. Ring the cake with malt balls.
Place the second cake layer on top, spread on some more frosting, more Whoppers, and the last layer, etc.
Pipe some extra frosting into shapes. This is more effective if your cake, frosting, and kitchen aren’t well above buttercream melting point, but oh well. No one seemed to mind the ugly cake. Next time, I’ll use a cream cheese frosting. Way more stable.