4/2/10

White on White Buttermilk Cake with Jack Daniel's Buttercream


This time of year I tend to reminisce about my childhood friend, Caridad (I called her Cari), who used to push me fierce hard, and even dared to  wake me up at an ungodly hour, every Sunday morning,  to drag my heathen carcass to church.

“C’mon, I know you’re in there! I’m not leaving until you open the door!” Cari demanded. 

One thing about Cari, she was no quitter.

I would ceremoniously wait 10 minutes, before answering the door, allowing myself ample time to fabricate another  alibi, in order to stay in bed...if I played my cards right.

 Once, desperation led me to blurt out that I had come down with  Beriberi. An open-and-shut case, I thought. 
There was a long, awkward pause, as it became glaringly-obvious that Cari wasn't biting.
Look, I was 10 years old  at the time.  It didn’t seem wildly absurd then.

 And, as luck would have it,  Cari was  a few years older—and wiser—than me. But,  she meant well, so  I will never forget the  kind, thoughtful, and punctually-persistent little twerp that she was.
Besides,  it was her  persuasiveness that  often  led me to pray,  and selfishly implore…“Please, make Cari take a hike, and relieve me of my suffering.”

What does any of this have to do with a baking blog? Not a blessed thing.
But I’m doing the Bunny Hop because now that I’m  (allegedly)  an adult, I’ve taken back Sunday.

 And here is a cute birdhouse cake I made for Easter Sunday.   This Buttermilk Cake is light, both in texture and in color, it's also  very moist, and pairs well with an array of  buttercreams, but  a simple  glaze would be just as good.
This cake is unparalleled served buck-naked, with fresh, summer berries.


White on White Buttermilk Cake with Jack Daniel’s Buttercream
Yield: 12 to 14 servings

1½  cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/3 cups sugar
3 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ cups buttermilk

Place baking rack one-third from the bottom of the oven, and the second two-thirds from the bottom. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper, and lightly grease.
Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the egg whites and vanilla, about 1 minute.
Combine cake flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add  one-third of the flour mixture to the batter and beat on medium speed until incorporated. Add about half of the buttermilk and beat on medium speed until incorporated. Continue adding dry and wet ingredients alternately, scraping the bowl down and beating until incorporated after each addition. End with the dry ingredients.
Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans. Stagger the pans on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another. Set two layers on one rack and the third on the other. Bake  25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Monitor the cakes for doneness; each one may be done at a different time.

Cool the cake pans on wire racks  for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks and cool completely before frosting.  At this point,  the cakes can be  wrapped in plastic, and a layer of aluminum foil and frozen up to 3 weeks.


Jack Daniel’s Buttercream

Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the eggs and yolks in a large bowl on high speed about 5 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar; simmer until it reaches the soft-ball stage, registering between 234-f degrees and 240-f degrees on a candy thermometer. Immediately transfer the syrup to a large heatproof liquid measuring cup.
In a slow, thin stream, add the sugar mixture to the egg mixture, mixing on low speed the entire time. Increase the speed to medium and beat about 7 minutes, until the syrup has cooled (the bowl should be barely warm to the touch). Add the butter, half a stick at a time, beating on medium speed about 20 seconds after each addition. Once all of the butter has been added, beat on medium until the frosting thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the salt and whiskey.

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate and spread a thick blanket of frosting on top. Add the second layer and spread with frosting. Add the third layer and cover the top and sides of the cake with an even layer of frosting. The cake will keep several days at room temperature.

Variations: Grand Marnier or Amaretto can be substituted for the Jack Daniel’s in the buttercream.  For chocolate buttercream, substitute 8 oz. of melted bittersweet chocolate for the Jack Daniel's. Make sure to cool the  chocolate  at least 15 minutes before adding it to the buttercream. The Pastry Queen, by Rebecca Rather.

The birdhouse cake was slightly carved and tapered toward the bottom. Because I used three layers I inserted a wooden rod right through to the bottom of the cake to keep it stable while frosting it. The large marshmallow helped anchor the flower.


The large Bluebell is made of sugar. Petals were cut rather thick and rolled out very thinly, to wrap around a large paper cone (see below). Remember the paper hats you made in Kindergarten? Same principle applies here. Make sure to cover the cone with plastic wrap, and dust it liberally with cornstarch to keep the flower from sticking. Allow to dry overnight.


Well, Easter is just two shakes of a bunny’s tail away, and I want to wish my homebunnies  a very wonderful day!