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The Tuesday Treat: Over-the-Top Birthday Cake

For an explanation of The Tuesday Treat, see here.



Alice Waters’ 1-2-3-4 Cake with Chocolate Ganache, Marzipan and Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

I made this cake last … July? for a former coworker’s birthday. I am longing for cake today, as the sun burns hotly down in San Francisco and the sky is the blue its been all this beautiful, clear spring, so I thought now was as good a time to share it as any. This resulted in an enormous cake, and I think it barely fit into my cake carrier when I lugged it downtown on the bus. But oh, was it good.

For the ganache and the buttercream frosting

For the cake

Makes one nine-inch, two-layer cake.

4 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
3 cups cake flour (sift and then measure)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsweetened butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch baking pans and line the bottom of each with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.

Stir baking powder and salt into cake flour.

In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the four egg yolks one at a time. Add the vanilla to the mixture.

Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, starting and ending with one third of the flour. Stir just until the flour is incorporated.

In another bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Stir one third of the egg whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.

* The recipe also makes 24 to 30 cupcakes or it can be baked in a 12 x 18-inch sheet cake pan. Bake cupcakes or sheet cake for about 20 minutes.

For the marzipan

2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3 cups finely ground blanched almonds
2 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract or lemon juice

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sugar with the finely ground almonds until well mixed. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract or lemon juice and process until forming a stiff paste. On a clean work surface, knead until smooth. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To assemble, cut layers in half and fill alternately with the ganache and the marzipan. Frost completely with the buttercream.


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