Sunday, June 9, 2013

Browned Butter Layer Cake - Happy 1st Birthday Lulu!

Today I got to experience one of the sweetest 1st birthday's ever - Miss Lulu. She is such a cutie. In fact, she is one of the cutest baby girls I've seen in awhile. No joke. Most people I show a picture of her say the same thing. That must mean she's really cute! She had such a great party with her family and friends that it practically pooped her out. Poor thing. She made it thought the whole thing without needed a nap! You should have seen her when we she tore into her birthday cupcake though. Not only was it all over, but she ate the whole thing - I couldn't believe it! Who knew such a little itty bitty girl could eat a whole one. I guess it was good!

cupcake all over!
It may seem like a perfect fit for me to blog about the cupcakes I made her today, but I have been saving a very special post for her for awhile now. Well, a little over a year. I wanted to save this special cake post as a little something special for her big o-n-e! Just over a year ago at her baby shower (when she wasn't even around yet), I made her momma a very special brown butter layer cake to celebrate the soon to be Lulu. Yes, you heard me right. Brown butter cake. How good does that sound? Just when you thought cake couldn't get any better, I go and add browned butter. I so went there and am so glad I did. Brown butter is unexplainably (is this even a word?) delicious. What better than to tell you about this fabulous cake then on Lulu's first birthday. It's just perfect.

If you haven't had anything with brown butter, you are missing out. Totally missing out. Brown butter is so nutty and creamy and it's a flavor that is just one of a kind. When Lulu's nana told me about a recipe she saw in Food & Wine magazine for browned butter cake, I had to make it. No questioning at all. I just had to make it. I had never made anything with brown butter at that point and was ready to take on the challenge. Don't worry though - brown butter is not hard to make at all. If you are worried, check out my how to brown butter here. It's not as scary as it sounds, promise! Once you've browned the butter, you are already half way there. Once the butter has cooled a bit, you just simply whip it up and then add eggs, vanilla and then the wet and dry ingredients in stages. If you add all the dry or wet at once, it may lump up on you or get all over you. You don't want either of those things happening, now do you? Once the batter is ready to go (don't try to eat it all with a big spoon - oh boy is it hard not to!), divide the batter evenly into two pans and bake until they are done. You will start to smell the butter as it bakes. No joke. It's heavenly it's own strange way.

When the cakes are cooling, it's on to making the mousse filling and frosting. For baby Lulu's shower, I decided to go with a milk chocolate mousse filling and a white chocolate (colored pink, of course!) swiss meringue buttercream. Sounds daunting, but it's not. Stay with me. I promise you won't regret it. To make the mousse you start out with gelatin and soften it with some hot water. While that is doing it's thing, whip the egg yolks really well and then pour in the melted chocolate, gelatin, a few other ingredients and mix until combined. Then gently fold in freshly whipped whipped cream to keep it light and fluffy. This is best done the day before since it takes several hours to cool and firm up, but that's your call if you want to do it all in one day. I always like to do things ahead if I can. Especially when it saves me hours of waiting around the next day!

Now, on to the frosting. When I first read the recipe for the frosting, it was not your traditional buttercream as they stated. This frosting is so different, but so delicious. I was a little scared, because it was swiss meringue buttercream, but SMB is not something to be scared about anymore. Let me tell you how to make it. To start, you need to heat egg whites, sugar and salt in a double boiler for about five minutes. Once everything is dissolved, whip the egg mixture with a stand mixer until glossy, about 10 minutes. Once they are ready, you add in the butter a piece at a time and the melted chocolate. It may look curdled at times, but don't give up - that happens. It will all come together. If it looks a bit runny, place the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes and then keep whipping. Once the frosting is ready, you can put it all together! I decorated this cake extra special with fresh roses and a special white chocolate name for baby lulu. I wasn't able to attend the shower, but heard the cake was a hit. I am so glad everyone enjoyed it and am so glad I was able to help Miss Lulu celebrate her 1st birthday today.  Happy happy birthday little one - here's to many more years of memories and fun!

start the mousse first

fold in the whipped cream carefully!

the start of beautiful browned butter

cooling the brown butter. don't skip this step!

swirling brown butter!

now on to the frosting!

start the frosting while the cakes are cooling

whip it good

add in pieces of butter just a few at a time

a little pink color for miss lulu


covered in frosting and then set in the fridge to chill

decorated especially for Miss Lulu!

Brown Butter Layer Cake (Food & Wine Magazine)

3 sticks unsalted butter (12 ounces), plus more for greasing the pans
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
Mousse filling and Buttercream frosting (see below)

Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess. In a medium saucepan, melt the 3 sticks of butter. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until foamy, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the milk solids turn brown and the butter smells nutty, about 4 minutes longer. Scrape the melted butter and browned bits into a large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl in an ice water bath until the butter begins to set around the edge, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the 2  1/4 cups of all-purpose flour with the baking powder and salt. Remove the bowl from the ice water and scrape up the hardened butter. Transfer the butter to the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle and beat until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla seeds and beat at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks followed by the whole eggs. Beat in the dry ingredients and milk in 3 alternating additions, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert them onto a rack to let them cool completely. 

Peel off the parchment paper. Set one cake layer on a platter. Spread the mousse filling on top and cover with the second cake layer. Frost the cake all over with a thin layer of buttercream and refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes. Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream. Refrigerate the cake until the frosting is firm, at least 15 minutes, before serving.  

For the mousse filling:

1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/2 tablespoon water
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
4 ounces milk chocolate, melted and cooled 
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until softened. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream until softly whipped. Refrigerate until chilled, about 10 minutes. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, heat the coffee liqueur at high power until hot, about 45 seconds. Stir in the softened gelatin until dissolved. In another medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and salt at high speed until pale and thickened, about 5 minutes. While beating the yolks, beat in the coffee-gelatin liquid; scrape the side and bottom of the bowl. Beat in the melted chocolate. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped cream in 2 additions. Scrape the mousse into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight. 
 For the white chocolate buttercream:

1 cup sugar
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces white chocolate, melted and cooled
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (9 ounces), cut into tablespoons, at room temperature
 In a blender or food processor, pulse the sugar until powdery. Transfer the sugar to a medium heatproof bowl and whisk in the egg whites and salt. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is completely dissolved, 5 minutes. Transfer the warm egg-white mixture to the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk. Add the vanilla and beat at medium-high speed until stiff and glossy, about 8 minutes. Beat in the butter a few pieces at a time, making sure it is fully incorporated before adding more. The buttercream should be light and fluffy; if it appears runny at any time, transfer the bowl to the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes, then return it to the mixer and continue. Beat in the melted chocolate until fully incorporated, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl. Remove the bowl from the mixer and beat with a wooden spoon to remove any air bubbles. 

 Brown butter cake. There's nothing like it!


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