3 cups all purpose flour
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare the cake pans with baking spray and line with parchment paper rounds.
3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl.
4. Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer on high until light and fluffy. Scrape bowl using a rubber spatula.
5. On medium speed, add eggs one at a time, waiting until each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next egg. Scrape bowl with a rubber spatula.
6. On low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla, starting and ending with dry. Mix until smooth. Scrape bowl with a rubber spatula.
7. Mix in chopped walnuts on low speed.
8. Pour batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans, scraping bowl with a rubber spatula. Spread batter with an offset spatula so that it is evenly in pan.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake will slightly shrink away from the sides of the pans.
10. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Run a small offset spatula around the outside of the cake to loosen from the pan, then carefully flip the cake out of the pan onto the wire rack. Place the cake right side up on rack and let it cool completely before icing.
2/3 cup heavy cream (hot)
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons water
3 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Prepare a heatproof glass measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside. Cream will burn and boil over the pan if not paid close attention.
3. Combine the sugar with water (consistency should resemble wet sand) in medium heavy saucepan.
4. Heat, stirring constantly over medium-high heat until sugar has dissolved and is bubbling.
5. Stop stirring and let the sugar boil undisturbed until the sugar turns an amber color (360 degrees on a candy thermometer). This will happen in about 2-3 minutes. Be careful to not overheat the caramel or else it will taste very bitter. It is better to stop the caramelization before it gets too brown (a few degrees lower than 360) because the temperature will continue to rise from the heat of the pan.
6. Remove from heat and slowly pour the hot cream into the caramel. It will bubble and rise in the pan quickly, so be sure to stir vigorously.
7. Continue to stir the caramel over very low heat until the mixture is uniform in color and the caramel is completely dissolved.
8. Remove from heat and add the butter and mix until smooth.
9. Pour the caramel into the prepared glass measuring cup and allow it to cool for about 3 minutes.
10. Add the vanilla and salt.
11. Allow the butterscotch to cool to room temperature, stirring gently a few times.
12. Assemble cake by spreading a layer of Duff’s buttercream using an offset spatula followed by another layer of butterscotch sauce at your desired thickness onto one cake layer. Place the second cake layer on top of the filling-covered first.
13. Ice the entire assembled cake with Duff’s buttercream.
Makes roughly 4 pounds (enough to ice a 3-tier cake)
10 large egg whites, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 ½ pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
1. Make sure to have a completely clean and dry bowl when you start your process, any fat or liquid at all in the bowl will stunt the protein development of the albumen (egg white protein) and you will not have a proper meringue at the end.
2. Start whipping egg whites on medium low speed in the mixer by themselves (no sugar or butter yet) until the whites are foamy and opaque. It should look like the head of beer.
3. Increase to medium speed and slowly start adding the sugar until all the sugar is incorporated.
4. Once all the sugar is in, increase the speed of the mixer to high and whip until the mixture is shiny and stiff. You now have a meringue. You know when your meringue is done when you pull out the whip, hold it horizontal, and if you have what looks a “sparrow’s beak” on the end of the whip.
5. Replace the whip, turn the mixer on medium and start adding the butter a bit at a time. Once all the butter is incorporated, turn the mixer on medium speed and let it whip until the butter has completely emulsified into the meringue. When you first add the butter, your meringue will break down and look like cottage cheese, but will continue to emulsify into a smooth buttercream. Depending on the weather, the buttercream could take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to form. When the buttercream is ready, the mixture will be homogeneous and smooth…and tasty.
6. Remove the buttercream from the bowl and place in an airtight container. Buttercream can be kept at room temperature for a few days or in the fridge for a week or two, but always use soft buttercream when icing a cake. To warm up the buttercream, put it back in the mixer using a rubber spatula. Begin remixing the buttercream using the whip attachment on high speed while applying direct heat to the outside of the bowl with a propane torch that can be found at any hardware store.
Note: Don’t worry about using raw egg whites in your buttercream, the sugar cooks the egg whites and makes them perfectly safe to eat. If you are still uneasy about this, use pasteurized egg whites.
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