#buttercream

Root Beer Float

Anyone else struggle with living in the moment? I’ve been known to get ahead of myself from time to time… It’s that long tumble down a rabbit hole where something small today triggers an anxiety that feels like the world might end tomorrow… One thing that helps me chill out and work to be present is baking. (There’s nothing like a slice of cake to help you forget your problems! And then a trip to the gym to help wash the guilt of eating the cake…)

Truth be told, I’m pretty happy with the little life I've got going. I have a slew of fantastic friends, I’m active, and I have a stellar family that’s supportive of all my wacky decisions.  Baking is just one of those things that I can always count on to help me focus, forget some silly stressful event, and to just simply relax.  The pure satisfaction I get out of use my hands to create a product I get to share with people is hard to put into words… I think now is a great time to apologize to my co-workers who, unfortunately (or fortunately... I guess it depends on how you look at it), have to put up with all of the baked goods that find their way into the office all too often these days!

What do you do to relax? To rejuvenate? To forget about your worries?

This week’s cake idea came from my best friend, Eden (another fantastic home baker, might I add!). We were chatting about cakes (obviously) and I was really hung up on creating something using beer. (I love beer…) Of course I wanted to use a dark beer (I LOVE dark beer…) but considering the time of year and season, maybe it wasn’t my best idea…. So in light of creating something dark and heavy, Eden suggested something dark and a little lighter – ROOT-beer.

Huh? The only root beer cake I had come across was a fun cake that Courtney had created over @Cakebycourtney (another plug for another awesome home baker!) that she had named her Root Beer Float Cake. Well, I love root beer and I love vanilla ice cream…. The rest is history. I decided to take a stab.

This beaut is made up of layers of moist root beer cake, vanilla buttercream, root beer caramel drizzle, topped with vanilla meringue and root beer meringue kisses…. It’s decadent but surprisingly not too heavy. There’s no mistaking the flavor of root beer with its amalgamation of spices and sweetness. It brings me right back to my childhood watching the foam spill right over the top of the cup as vanilla ice cream is dropped inside…. Just like the meringue on the cake.

It’s the perfect treat for a late summer afternoon.

So if you’re dealing with a stressful workweek or if something in your life has got you down, why not relax for a moment by taking a big bite out of my Root Beer Float Cake and you’ll forget all your worries…

 

Root Beer Float Cake

  • 3 cups, cake flour
  • 1 and 1/4 cups, sugar
  • 2 sticks & 2 tbsps, unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs & 3 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup, root beer
  • 2 tsps, root beer extract (can be found online or at a baking shop)
  • 3 tsps, baking powder
  • ¾ tsp, salt

Root Beer Caramel:

  • ½ cup, sugar
  • 2 tbsps, water
  • 1/3 cup, heavy cream
  • 3 tbsps, butter (cut into small cubes)
  • 1 tbsp, root beer extract

Buttercream: Click Here

Meringue Topping & Kisses: Click Here

(I make a double batch of the meringue recipe - one I use to create the kisses and bake, the other I use as the “foam” topping.)

_________________________________________________________________________________

Cake:

  1. Butter, flour, and line with parchment paper4 – 6” cake pans. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Place to the side.
  3. Lightly whisk together your eggs, root beer, and root beer extract. Place to the side
  4. Start by creaming your butter and sugar in the stand of an electric mixer. Beat on medium high until light and fluffy.
  5. Add your wet ingredients until just combined.
  6. Add your sifted dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  7. Distribute the batter evenly between your pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer stuck into the center of your cakes comes out clean.
  8. Let cool completely before assembling or before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and placing in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.
RootbeerFloatCake.jpg

Caramel:

  1. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once you turn the heat on, do not touch!
  2. Once the sugar starts boiling, Slowly swirl the pan to keep the heat distributed evenly. BE CAREFUL! YOU DO NOT WANT TO GET SPLASHED!
  3. When the sugar reaches about 320+ degrees it’ll begin to caramelize. Slowly continue swirling the pan until it evenly turns a light amber color.
  4. Remove the pan from heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream. Watch out! It’s going to bubble frivolously! Let it do its thing…
  5. Return the pan to heat and add the butter. Whisk until the sauce has come together!
  6. Let cool before using.

Assembling the Cake:

  1. Start by leveling your cakes using a serrated knife.
  2. Place one cake upright on the center of a turntable decorating stand and add a layer of buttercream topped with a drizzle of caramel.
  3. Continue the process for all 4 cakes. (Make sure your top layer is an upside cake...)
  4. Since I choose to decorate this cake as a “naked cake,” I add a layer of buttercream (starting on top and working down) as my “crumb coat” and then use a straight edge to scrap the vast majority of frosting off.
  5. Once you’ve got your naked layer, throw your cake in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes chill.
  6. Once your cake is chilled, you want to drizzle the caramel over the top of the cake and then fill in the center using an off set spatula. Once again, you’ll want to chill your cake for a few to seal your caramel coat before finishing up.
  7. Finally, once your caramel has set, you can use your meringue in anyway you want to decorate the top of the cake and then finish with meringue kisses, if you wish.

 

#KitchenTips:

  • Some of these cakes are complicated and have quite a few steps involved, don't stress. Does the cake recipe sound good? Does the caramel sound better? Start by trying a piece of the recipe... As you get more comfortable and familiar with the processes behind these different components, you can tackle the next recipe... No rush! Mix and max what you're creating!
  • When you cook sugar on the stove, you want to make sure you use a deep pan so that when you add butter and cream to the mixture, it doesn’t overflow.
  • When you add the cream/butter to your caramel, it may seize up and harden. Just place it back on the heat and whisk until it loosens up again.
  • Caramel is easier than it sounds. Just have patience and try it a few times… Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be making it for all your desserts in no time. Spoon it over your favorite ice or fruit

 

 

Funfetti Cake

The past week was a bit of a whirlwind. Committed to enjoying the beautiful summer weather while we have it, I went to a baseball game, a volleyball game, some more biking and running, and unfortunately a whole lot of work. Sometimes I wonder why I jam-pack my schedule?! I’m one of those people who teeters on the edge of both extroverted and introverted, so I require some decent time with myself to recharge…

I decided that I would dedicate Saturday to "me-time." I think we all need to carve out that time for ourselves… you’re mental and physical health are worth it! Obviously, that meant baking. I’ve been seeing these cakes floating around social media that imitate an ice cream cone melting down the side of a cake and I’ve been wanting to take a stab at one for some time. However, I wanted to up the stakes… So instead of one ice cream cone, I decided to add two… I would have added another but I didn’t want to over do it…

The cake I created for this recipe would be categorized as a pretty standard birthday cake recipe. White cake… vanilla buttercream… pretty classic. The wow factor here? Not just the dripping ice cream cones on top… but the fact that the center of the cake is speckled with funfetti, or sprinkles, in layman's terms. I’m going to be honest… the colorful exterior mixed with the rainbow sprinkles are not necessarily my taste, but it’s perfect for a kid's birthday.... or something of the sort. (a doggy birthday maybe?)

The thing I like about this recipe is that these are standard flavors and a pretty standard procedure. When you work to master these basic recipes you can start to play with flavors, etc… This recipe does have a decent amount of steps but it’s a great masterclass in standard cake baking and assembling. 

For this cake, I decided to use an Italian buttercream recipe. This type of buttercream can be a little challenging to make but so worth it. I’ll go into deeper detail of the process in a future blog post. Italian buttercream uses a process of heating sugar to “soft ball” stage and adding the cooked sugar to egg whites while whipping (most easily in an electric mixer).

Don't stress. Just practice. #Kitchentip - You’re going to want to make sure you have all of your ingredients measured and ready to go before you begin... Often times when baking, your steps need to happen in a sequential and timely manor. Taking the time to prep will make all the difference (and it’s WAY less stressful!)

Hope you enjoy how fun this cake is... both to look at and eat! Now for some more me-time that doesn't enjoy baking...

What did you do this weekend to recharge? What passions do you have and use to treat yourself?

Funfetti Cake:

  • 3 cups, flour
  • 2 sticks, unsalted butter (room temperature) cut into cubes
  • 1 and 3/4ths cups, sugar
  • 3 large eggs + 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup, whole milk
  • 3 tsps, baking powder
  • ½ tsp, salt
  • 2 tsps, vanilla
  • ½ cup, rainbow sprinkles
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F, butter/flour/line 3, 9” cake pans.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix low for a couple of seconds to combine ingredients.
  3. Add the butter to the mixer and beat on low just to begin breaking down the butter (be careful, you’re dry ingredients are going to want to fly out of the bowl!)
  4. Turn up your mixture to medium high and beat until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the milk and combine for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is combined
  6. With your mixer on low, add one egg at a time until just incorporated (no need to over mix at this point…)
  7. Just before it’s all mixed, I take it off the stand mixer and finish by hand… adding the sprinkles at the end and just slightly incorporating.
  8. Divide the batter into your three pans and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the tops have a nice golden look to them and a pick inserted into the center comes out clean. (If you have a kitchen scale, you can anticipate distributing about 285g per pan)
  9. Once your cakes are completely cooled, I recommend wrapping them in plastic wrap and freezing them prior to using. The soft crumb on this cake will be much easier to frost with a cool cake. Just remove your cakes an hour or two before you you’re ready to frost them. 

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 2 cups, sugar (divided evenly)
  • 2/3 cup, water
  • 4 sticks, butter in small chunks (not cold, but not quite room-temperature)
  • cream of tartar, just a pinch
  • 2 tsps, vanilla
  1. Start by combining 1 cup of sugar and the water in a small pot on the stove. In order to get the best results, you’ll want to use a candy thermometer (I prefer a digital thermometer). Don’t turn the heat on yet!
  2. Add your egg whites to a VERY clean bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment. If you have ANY grease residue in your bowl, your egg whites will not whip up properly!
  3. Turn your mixer on low. When your egg whites start to foam, add 1 cup of sugar to the bowl as your egg whites are whipping.
  4. Turn your stove on and begin heating your sugar to 235F. At the same time, increase the speed of you electric mixer to medium-high. You want to heat the sugar at the same time you whip your egg whites with the goal of reaching stiff peaks at the same time you reach 235F. If you reach stiff peaks early, turn the mixer on very low until your sugar is ready.
  5. When your sugar reaches 235F, turn your mixer on high and in a slow, steady stream pour the sugar down the side of the bowl. BE CAREFUL. You do not want hot sugar to hit you… it won’t be pleasant.
  6. Keep whipping until the bowl feels just barely warm.
  7. At this time, you want to switch to the paddle attachment on your mixer. With the mixer on medium-high, start adding chunks of your cool, but malleable butter.
  8. Once all of the butter is incorporated, beat your frosting on high until fully incorporated. Your frosting will most likely look curdled but if you keep beating on high, it’ll all come back together and leave you with a perfectly smooth frosting perfect for any cake.
  9. At this time, feel free to incorporate flavor and color. If you’d like, you can switch back to the whisk attachment for this step and whip for a minute to incorporate.

Assembling the Cake:

  1. If you froze your cakes, you’ll want to remove them from the freezer for about and hour or two prior to frosting them.
  2. When you’re ready, level your cakes with a serrated knife and save the cake crumbs for your ice cream cone topping.
  3. Start frosting by placing one of your cakes on a revolving cake stand and add a scoop of frosting to the center. Spread your frosting using an offset spatula.
  4. Continue the process of adding a layer of cake and a layer of frosting. When I frost my cakes, I tend to frost around the seams around the cakes as I go. This just means that you’re working on your crumb coat as you move up the cake.
  5. Once you’ve added your final cake, and you look level, go ahead and continue working to complete your crumb coat. Your crumb coat should be a very thin layer of frosting that covers the entire cake to seal in all of the crumbs of your cake before your final layer of frosting. (Save 2 tbsps of frosting for your ice cream cone topper…)
  6. Throw your cake in the refrigerator or freezer for about 15-20 minutes to seal all of your crumbs in.
  7. Once your crumb coat is sealed, go ahead and frost the entire cake. I use a straight edge of a cake tool like this Ateco Decorating Comb to smooth over my cakes (Ateco 1447 Decorating Comb) . It’s pretty FANTASTIC.
  8. Once your cakes are frosted, I’d throw it back in the refrigerator to cool it while you work on your ganache topping.

Honestly, you could stop right here... You've already got yourself a great cake. Want to up your game?! Continue on....

Ganache Drizzle and Ice Cream Cone

  • Ice cream cone of your choice
  • 2 tbsps, frosting
  • Cake crumbs
  • Lollipop stick, or tiny dowel (about 4”)
  • 1/3 cup, heavy cream
  • 6oz, white chocolate
  • Food coloring of your choice
  • Sprinkles
  1. Heat the heavy cream on the stove until simmering. Don’t scorch it!
  2. In a bowl, pour the heated cream over your white chocolate and let sit for a minute or two.
  3. Whisk the cream and chocolate together until smooth.
  4. At this time, add any food coloring you’d like.
  5. Using a spoon, carefully pour the chocolate over the edge of your cake to form the drizzle down the side of your cake. Once you’ve worked all the way around the cake, finish covering the top of your cake using a small offset spatula to smooth.
  6. To make the ice cream cone, mix 2 tbsps of frosting with your left over cake crumbs and shape into cylinder that represents a scoop of ice cream.
  7. Take your cone and slightly press into the “scoop of ice cream.”
  8. Cover the "scoop of ice cream" with the ganache. You’ll probably need a couple of coats of ganache before your ice cream isn't opaque anymore…
  9. Stick half of the lollipop stick into the ice cream cone and then into the cake wherever you’d like for placement.
  10. Finish by adding extra ganache wherever you need to touch up and use a spoon to add sprinkles in whatever fashioned you’d like to decorate the top or side of your cake!