Sunday, July 10, 2011

White-on-White Buttermilk Cake with Jack Daniel's Buttercream [Menu]


This was my week to host Project Pastry Queen! I chose to whip up a three-layer White-on-White Buttermilk Cake with Jack Daniel’s Buttercream (because cake is always a good thing).

After a few adjustments, I’m happy with what is sitting proudly in my kitchen. To be totally honest, this was one of the most unusual cakes I’ve ever made. I baked the cake layers early on (Friday night, to be exact) to make sure I would be able to post early this morning - a task I believe I’ve properly failed at 10:00pm this evening. However, in the end, it worked out well enough.

There are a few mishaps and oddities when it comes to this confection. The batter, for one, is a little strange (although it provides a fabulously moist and flavorful cake without that saccharine sweetness some layer cakes lend themselves to). Before you put it in the oven, it’s almost like an angel food cake batter. Very fluffy. Very, very white. It’s really entertaining, and, between you and me, I enjoyed licking the beaters immensely.

The frosting is where I (and, subsequently, my husband) ran into some issues. Truthfully, I can’t recommend this icing. By the end of the day, we had to try three frostings before there was a decent option to top the three layers I finally see before me. The concept of the Jack Daniels frosting is attractive, but I believe the execution leaves something to be desired. Considering the cost of the ingredients (if you don’t keep Jack Daniels on hand it’s almost $5.00 for just a little airline bottle of the stuff) and the massive amount of butter (6 sticks or 1.5 lb of unsalted goodness), I believe there are better frostings out there. Personally, I love butter, but my husband likened the final product to sweet movie-theater popcorn butter. I have to admit it was pretty close, and I, honestly, would prefer something else, as well.

I think it's worth a try if you like very rich, buttery frostings. The whiskey lends it a nice flavor, and it may be worth it to you to give it a go. Although it wasn't my cup of tea, it did come together nicely. If you would like another option, however, this is the buttercream frosting I ended up using. It's my go-to buttercream, and it's never failed me.

Please pop over to the Project Pastry Queen HQ and see what the other members of the group did with this week's assignment! :]

Recipe ahead!

White-on-White Buttermilk Cake with Jack Daniel’s Buttercream
From The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

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

- 3 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- ½ cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 cups (6 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp Jack Daniel’s whiskey

To Make The Cake…
Place one baking rack one-third from the bottom of the oven and the second two-thirds from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350° F. To ensure the cakes release easily from the pan, I recommend buttering the pan, placing a circle of parchment paper over top of the buttered pan, and then buttering the parchment paper and sides of the pan.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg whites and vanilla and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add about 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. The batter will be thick and glossy (and a bit like marshmallow fluff, if you ask me).

Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Stagger the cake layers 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 for 25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out (at least mostly) clean and the tops are flat and browned. Monitor the layers carefully for doneness; each one may be done at a different time.

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

To Make the 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° and 240°F 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 speed 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 thickly with frosting. Add the third layer and cover the top and sides of the cake with an even layer of frosting. Covered, the cake with keep for 2 days at room temperature. (Yields 12 to 14 servings.)



Shawnda said...

I loved the cake but didn't get to make the Jack frosting this time. Thanks for the input on the frosting. I agree - it sounds great in theory!

Fresh said...

I came across The Pastry Queen's White on White buttermilk cake on another website and tried it. The cake rose in the oven, but as it got closer to being done, it collapsed. I noticed that your recipe only calls for 1/2 tsp of baking powder, as opposed to the 1.5 tsp on the other site. Do you think this could be the reason? Maybe it was too much baking powder?