From "The Model Bakery Cookbook"
Serves 10 to 12
1 recipe white cake or Auntie Emma’s Buttermilk Cake (recipe follows)
1/2 cup simple syrup (recipe follows)
1 recipe vanilla butter cream (recipe follows)
1 quart (455 g) fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or a combination
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup (100g) apricot jam or preserves
1 Tbsp. water
Auntie Emma’s Buttermilk Cake
1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan
Unbleached all-purpose flour for the pan
2 3/4 cup (355 g) cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) buttermilk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (3550 g) sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
Position a rack in the center of the over and preheat to 350 degrees. Lightly butter three 8-inch cake pans that have 2 inch sides. Line the bottoms with parchment paper or wax paper rounds. Dust the insides of the pans with all-purpose flour and tap out the excess.
Sift the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into a medium bowl.
Stir the buttermilk and vanilla together in a glass measuring cup. Beat the butter in a large bowl on medium speed (or with a wooden spoon) until butter is smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in the sugar and mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, until very pale in color and light in texture, about 4 minutes (or 10 by hand). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until absorbed after each addition. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with two equal additions of the buttermilk mixture, mixing just until smooth. Divide the batter evenly among the pans and smooth the tops. Rap the pans on a work surface to disperse any air bubbles.
Bake until the cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cook in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Invert and unmold onto the racks and peel off the paper. Turn the cakes right side up and let cool completely. The cakes can be stored, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 1 day.
Makes abut 3/4 cup.
Nothing more than sugar and water boiled together into a light syrup, this sweet liquid is brushed onto cake layers to prevent them from drying out and provide extra flavor. Cakes with butter-based batters harden when refrigerated and the syrup moistens them so they can be served chilled.
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You will only use 2 to 3 Tbsp. for a cake, but make the entire batch and use it to sweeten iced tea or coffee.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil, without stirring, until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Let cool completely. Transfer to a covered connection and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
A couple of caveats: Make sure the cooked meringue is beaten until it is absolutely cool. The butter should be at cool room temperature, malleable but not so soft that it becomes shiny. Basic buttercream can be flavored, so it is a workhorse.
Makes about 4 cups.
1 1/4 cups (250 g) sugar
5 large egg whites
2 cups (455 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Combine the sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Choose a saucepan that will hold the mixing bowl snugly. Add about 2 inches of water in the saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to low.
Put the bowl in the saucepan over the water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisk constantly by hand, scraping down any splashes of egg white on the sides of the bowl with a heat-proof spatula, until the mixture is hot to touch, white in color and the sugar is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. The idea here is to stir and warm the whites while dissolving the sugar, not to whip the mixture.
Affix the bowl to the mixer and fit with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until the mixture forms stiff, shiny peaks and is completely cool, about 10 minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to medium. Beat in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, waiting until each addition is absorbed. Increase speed to medium high and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in the vanilla.
The buttercream can be made up to one day ahead, transferred to a covered container and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature, then beat the mixture until fluffy before using.
To assemble the cake:
Make the filling:
Reserve 5 or 6 of the best-looking berries for a garnish. Hull the remaining berries and cut into a 1/4-inch dice. Spread the diced berries on paper towels to drain.
Whip the cream and sugar together in a chilled medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff. Fold in the berries.
Using a long, serrated knife, trim the tops of the cake layers so they are flat and even. Place one cake layer on a
7-inch cardboard cake round. Brush on one-third of the simple syrup. Spread with half of the cream mixture.
Top with another cake, brush with half of the remaining syrup and spread with the remaining cream mixture.
Top with the final cake layer, trimmed side down and brush with the remaining syrup. Transfer 1/2 cup of the buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch plain round tip. Set aside at room temperature.
Transfer the cake to a decorating stand. Frost the top and then the sides with a thin layer of buttercream.
Refrigerate until the buttercream is set, about 30 minutes. Return the cake to the turntable and frost with the remaining buttercream, giving it a smooth finish. Holding the teeth of a decorating comb against the frosting on the side of the cake, rotate the cake to create ridges. Refrigerate for at least
1 hour, up to one day.
Make the glaze: Bring the jam and water to a brisk simmer in a small pan over medium heat, stirring often. Cook, still stirring, until thickened, about
1 minute. When you drop some of the glaze from the spoon, the last drops should be very thick and slow to fall. Strain through a wire sieve into a small bowl.
Transfer the cake to a cake platter. Arrange the reserved berries on top of the cake in the center. Brush the berries with the warm apricot glaze; you may not use all of it.
With the buttercream in the pastry bag, pipe a scalloped border around the top and bottom edges of the cake. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.