Thursday, May 13, 2010

Two Temptations for Two Celebrations

Normally my birthday cakes, decoration-wise, consist either of topping the cake with chocolate chips, syrup, etc. or covering it with a simple buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Yet these two cakes required a few extra steps in terms of decorating. Each cake was made for a friend's birthday, and both were well worth the extra effort put into these cakes. The two cakes are a Strawberry Basket Cake with Whipped Crème Fraîche Frosting and a Brown Sugar Cake with Dulce de Leche Cake and Almond Praline.

This cake was incredible!!! The cake gets a richness from the sour cream as well as density of flavor from the addition of orange juice and zest. I chose square pans rather than round cake pans to better emulate a basket. It also made the basket weave design (see link at end of recipe) easier than had it had round edges.

I would recommend letting the Whipped Crème Fraîche chill for a little bit. It is not as stiff as buttercream or cream cheese frosting, and is thus difficult to make a basket weave using. I would also recommend making this the whole 8 hours ahead - that way the filling will have time to absorb into the cake and really take up the flavor!

Strawberry Basket Cake with Whipped Crème Fraîche Frosting
Serves 10



  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 12-ounce baskets strawberries
  • 1/3 cup strawberry preserves
Whipped Crème Fraîche

  • 3 cups chilled whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup chilled sour cream
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in sour cream, orange juice, orange peel and vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add dry ingredients and beat until well blended. Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops.

Bake cakes until light golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 30 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.

Whipped Crème Fraîche: Using an electric mixer, beat all ingredients in a large bowl until stiff peaks form.

Meanwhile, hull and slice 1 basket strawberries. Place in medium bowl. Add preserves and 2 tablespoons sugar; toss to blend. Let stand at room temperature until juices form, about 2 hours.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Top with sliced berry mixture in even layer. Spread 1 3/4 cups Whipped Crème Fraîche over berry mixture. Top with second cake layer, flat side down, pressing slightly. To make basket weave, spread 1 1/4 cups Whipped Crème Fraîche over top and sides of cake; then follow directions in the box at right. Or to frost simply, spread all of Whipped Crème Fraîche over top and sides of cake. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.) Mound remaining whole berries in center of cake.

Visit the original recipe to learn How to Pipe a Basket Weave

This cake was uh-mazing! Dulce de Leche makes any dessert 10x better, and this recipe is no exception. The most difficult part of this recipe is the praline. Be careful to not overcook the sugar as it will burn and ruin the mix. As mentioned in the recipe, use a fork, NOT you fingers to rearrange the almonds once you have poured the sugar mixture on top of them.

This recipe comes from another blog I follow called Bake and Shake. She mentions that the praline was not a favorite by her guest given that it was too sharp too eat, but when I served this everyone loved it! I may have made my pieces a little smaller as well. Also, she purchased a can of Dulce de Leche whereas I made my own (click here to see David Lebovitz's recipe, the only one I've used and trust). She also replaces buttermilk with a combination of milk and cream. When I made this, I just used 1/2 cup of regular whole milk + 2 tsp distilled white vinegar. Other than that, prepare yourself for an amazing dessert experience!!!

Brown Sugar Cake with Dulce de Leche and Almond Praline
Serves 8 - 10



  • 1 stick salted butter, melted and cooled

  • 1 cup packed Dark Brown sugar

  • ½ cup buttermilk (or ¼ cup milk, ¼ cup cream and two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar)

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 ½ cups AP flour

  • 2 large eggs

  • ½ teaspoon almond extract

  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup cold water

  • ¾ cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped


  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 3 oz cream cheese

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract

  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup (heaping) of powdered sugar

  • 1 14 oz can prepared Dulce de Leche


Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Put on a shirt with long sleeves, and fill a large bowl with cold water.

In a small saucepan (with high sides) over medium heat, melt the sugar and water together until the mixture is clear and all sugar granules have dissolved. Bring to a rapid simmer and continue cooking for at least eight minutes (it took me longer, it may take you less time to reach that state), swirling the pan gently, until the sugar turns golden or light-amber, if you prefer – once the mixture has turned from yellow to gold, remove from the heat immediately – carry-over cooking can turn caramel from golden to completely burnt.

Pour the caramel over the chopped almonds, and use a fork (NOT YOUR FINGERS) to rearrange the almonds if needed. Leave to cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour one 9-inch round cake pan. Whisk together the sugar, eggs, salt. vanilla and almond extracts until smooth. Add the flour and baking soda, and stir just until combined. Pour in the butter, and whisk until batter has absorbed it all. Then add the buttermilk and whisk again, until the batter has absorbed all of the liquid.

Pour into the prepped pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in-pan for ten minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.

Chill the whisk/beaters/etc. and bowl you’ll be using for at least 15 minutes.Pour the cream and granulated sugar into the bowl, and whisk or whip until medium-stiff peaks form. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, and whip until combined. Transfer to a different bowl, and set aside.

Cream the powdered sugar and cream cheese together until smooth. Add 1/3 of the whipped cream, and beat together – this will lighten the cream cheese and make it easier to combine with the whipped cream. Switch to a spatula, and add the rest of the whipped cream. Fold the two mixtures together completely.

Split the completely cooled cake with a serrated knife, and pipe a border of frosting around the perimeter. Spread the Dulce de Leche within the boundaries, in an even layer, and place the second layer on top. Smooth the rest of the frosting over the top and sides.

Using a mezzuluna, your hands, or a long, large chef’s knife, crack the praline into small pieces. Press against the side of the cake, and scatter any extra over the top.

No comments:

Post a Comment