Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Snickerdoodle Cake

It was my friend's birthday over the weekend, and I wanted to bring something special to work, just to say, I think you're amazing and awesome and so much fun.

She knows everything there is to know about pop culture, and I'm trying to soak up some of that knowledge since my own is next to nothing.  I told her she should teach a class to others like me who missed out on pop culture when they were kids, and I would be her best student.

She loves pumpkiny, snickerdoodly, pretty things, so as I contemplated cake flavors, I thought... snickerdoodles.

A cinnamony sweet snickerdoodle cake sounded just perfect.

I remembered how much she loved the Wizard of Oz Cake I made for her daughter's birthday last month, and thought that the moist dense buttermilk cake from that recipe was perfectly suited for a snickerdoodle cake, since the tangy buttermilk would lend that flavor reminiscent of the cream of tartar in snickerdoodle cookies.

A little nutmeg and brown sugar in the cake batter added more of the cookie essence.

Vanilla bean, cinnamon and nutmeg spiced the buttercream beautifully, which nicely balanced the sweetness of the cake.  After piping buttercream rosettes on top of the cake, I sprinkled it liberally with cinnamon, like a snickerdoodle cookie rolled in its cinnamon sugar coating.

For the cookie crunch, I garnished the sides of the cake with pretty Pirouette cookies, and tied it up with a cinnamon-colored sheer ribbon.

I loved how the cake looked like a present, almost too pretty to eat.  But after the first slice was cut, all hesitation over ruining a pretty cake disappeared, and thoughts were on sugar and cinnamon cake.

One Year Ago:   Oatmeal Raisin Muffins
Two Years AgoWaking Up with Vanilla Bean Sour Cream Cake Doughnuts

Update: 9/22/14
Based on feedback in the comments, I've tested this recipe again to ensure that there were no mistakes, and to take some photos of the cut cake so you can see the height and texture.  After re-testing, I've determined that it is perfect as is!  I suppose you could describe the baked cakes as "disks" because they are flatter and more dense than, say a boxed cake mix which is very fluffy, airy and rather dry.  This cake certainly does rise, because I started with about a half inch of batter in each 8-inch pan, and the cakes rose to just over an inch, but they don't have the domed tops you might be expecting, and they're not supposed to.  Remember that if you use a larger pan like 9 or 10 inches, then the cakes will be shorter, because the diameter is greater.

This cake is intended to be dense, like a cross between a cake and a cookie, and is incredibly moist, buttery and rich, because it is, essentially, a pound cake baked in layer cake pans.  I think that if you understand my concept for this recipe, then you won't be disappointed in the results.  Also bear in mind that I live at 5,000 feet, and I write all my recipes for high altitude.  Baking these recipes at sea level may yield less successful results, and may require a little tweaking (on your part) to adjust for lower altitude.

One more thing, this recipe is not for an overwhelming amount of batter, so if you'd like a taller cake, you can simply double the recipe!  However, my frosted 3-layer cake was about 4 1/2 - 5 inches tall, which is plenty for such a rich cake.  Good luck and enjoy!

Snickerdoodle Cake

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake:
·         ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
·         3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
·         1 cup granulated sugar
·         2/3 cup light brown sugar
·         3 eggs
·         2 teaspoons vanilla
·         2 ¼ cups cake flour (cake flour makes a lighter cake, but all-purpose flour can also be used)
·         ¾ teaspoon salt
·         ¾ teaspoon baking powder
·         Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
·         ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
·         1 cup buttermilk

Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Buttercream:
·         2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
·         1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped (or 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste)
·         4 cups powdered sugar
·         2 tablespoons meringue powder
·         1 tablespoon cinnamon
·         ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
·         4 tablespoons milk or cream

·         ½ tablespoon cinnamon
·         Pirouette cookies
·         Ribbon

Getting Started:
Preheat the oven to 350.  Prepare three 8-inch or 9-inch round pans by spraying the bottoms only with non-stick spray.

Make the Cake:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugars for 5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Scrape the bowl down and beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating for a full minute after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and nutmeg.  With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour; mix just until combined.

Divide the batter between the pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out with moist crumbs but not batter.  Set the pans on wire racks, cover loosely with clean kitchen towels, and cool completely before frosting.  (The cake can also be made one day ahead of time; keep fresh and moist by cooling in the pans for one hour, then turning out the warm cakes onto pieces of plastic wrap.  Wrap each cake individually in plastic wrap and assemble/frost/decorate the following day.)

Make the Frosting:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and vanilla bean seeds/paste for one minute.  In a separate bowl, combine the powdered sugar, meringue powder, cinnamon and nutmeg, then with the mixer on low, add by spoonfuls to the butter until mostly combined.  Add the milk or cream and whip on medium high, scraping the bowl down occasionally, for 4-5 minutes until very light and fluffy.

Stack the cakes, filling them with a ¼ inch thick layer of buttercream between each.  Frost all over with a thin crumb coat of buttercream, then chill for 15 minutes before frosting all over with a final layer of buttercream.

Sprinkle the top of the cake with the cinnamon.  Place the pirouettes (cut in half) all around the side of the cake, and tie with a pretty ribbon.

Yields 15-20 servings

Recipe and Design from Curly Girl Kitchen