Berry-topped Buttermilk Cake

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Ever since we made a wedding cake last summer, we’ve been meaning to blog about the buttermilk cake recipe we used. It’s by far our favorite cake recipe, not only because it is superbly delicious (because it really is!), but also because it holds up well to frostings and fillings and slices like a dream. It’s become our go-to vanilla cake recipe and I can’t imagine switching to another one.

It has a rich flavor from the buttermilk and vanilla, and a tender crumb thanks to the cake flour, and it has always turned out perfectly. We made it recently for our brothers’ graduation party (see the pie we also made), and thanks to our parents’ wedding anniversary this past week, we had another opportunity to make it. Our family just moved, and this is also the first cake we baked in our new house! Although finding all the measuring tools and ingredients was a bit of a struggle, we are happy to say that our new oven is more than up to the task of cake baking.

We have typically frosted this cake with Swiss meringue buttercream, but this time around we wanted to save the hassle of separating eggs and instead make a more standard American buttercream. Smitten Kitchen recently posted a classic buttercream, but brilliantly added sour cream, which imparts a richness to the frosting and a very subtle tang to cut the sweetness. You can’t taste the sour cream itself, but it really adds a special something to the frosting. We topped the whole cake off with berries (inspired by this pic on Bouchon Bakery’s Instagram), which were a phenomenal addition. We especially love strawberries with this buttermilk cake (which is the pairing we made for the wedding) and next time we’ll probably slice some to go in between the layers. Do yourself a favor and make this cake before the end of the summer, while berries are sill in season!

Buttermilk Cake with Buttercream and Berries

Cake recipe and frosting from the always fantastic Smitten Kitchen

Makes 1 3-layer, 8 or 9 inch cake

Ingredients

For the cake:

3 3/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting:

2 cups (455 grams or 16 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature                                         7 1/2 cups (just under 2 lbs.) powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy                                                        1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream, plus more if needed                                                                            1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract

Plus…a variety of fresh berries to top (we used strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. But raspberries would also be great!). You can also add some between cake layers. Make sure your cake is well-chilled before serving if you do add fruit between the layers, to ensure stability.

Directions

For the cake:

Preheat your oven to 325. Butter 3 9-inch round cake pans (we used 8-inch pans and had no problems with them spilling over, though they were a little thicker and took slightly longer to bake). Line the bottom of the pans with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper, too. Dust the pans with flour.

In a large bowl, combine cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend for 30 seconds with an electric mixer on low speed (you can use a stand or handheld mixer for this cake). Add butter and 1 1/4 cups of the buttermilk. Blend on low speed until combined, and then beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together the whole eggs and yolks, vanilla, and the remaining 1/3 cup of buttermilk until well blended (we recommend beating well to remove any strands of egg whites, because these can be a pain to fold in at the end and you don’t want to overmix the batter).

Add 1/3 of the egg mixture into the cake batter at a time, and fold in with a spatula completely after adding each addition.

Divide batter between pans evenly–we’ve found that pushing the batter towards the edge so there’s less in the middle will prevent the cakes from doming too much and result in nice and level cakes. Bake 26-28 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Turn out cakes onto wire racks and let them cool completely before frosting. Level if necessary.

For the frosting:

Beat together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and vanilla and beat again. If necessary, add an additional tablespoon or two of sour cream to soften the frosting. Frost the cake and top with berries. This frosting gets soft somewhat quickly, so if you’re piping, we’d suggest periodically putting your piping bag in the fridge. Also, because of the sour cream, make sure you store this cake in the fridge up until shortly before serving. Enjoy!

Chocolate Silk Pie

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Dusting off the blog again…there, that’s better! We didn’t mean to go a month without posting, but it’s inevitable when your brothers graduate high school and then the rest of your family moves an hour and a half away (we’re staying in our area for now to work, but we’ll join them in mid-August before we head back to school). All of this chaos has meant less time for cooking new things, but we still made time for some special baking. We served this chocolate silk pie (along with a buttermilk cake with Swiss meringue buttercream and lemon curd) at our brothers’ graduation party, and every last crumb was enjoyed!

This delightfully decadent pie starts off with a simple Oreo crumb crust, and filled with a slightly less simple but very delicious chocolate silk filling. It’s topped off with a generous layer of whipped cream and some chocolate shavings. The filling is so rich and smooth, and goes excellently with the contrasting crunchy crust and ethereally light whipped cream. Another bonus is that, unlike with many chocolate silk fillings, the eggs are cooked so it’s safe for everyone to enjoy. We recommend making the crust and filling the day before, chilling the pie well overnight, and then topping with whipped cream just before serving. The pie is great straight out of the fridge but also can be brought closer to room temperature before serving.

Happy 4th of July!! We hope you’re enjoying a pie this good today to celebrate.

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Chocolate Silk Pie

Makes 1 9-inch pie (serving 8-10)

Crust from The Pioneer Woman, chocolate filling from Annie’s Eats (originally Cook’s Illustrated)

Ingredients:

For the crust:

25 whole Oreos (no need to remove the filling!)

4 tablespoons butter, melted

For the filling:

1 cup heavy cream, chilled

3 large eggs

¾ cup sugar

2 tbsp. water

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened and cut into 8 pieces

For topping:

Lightly sweetened whipped cream (we beat about a 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a mixer with a spoonful of sugar until fluffy, and it was just right. But sweeten to taste!)

Semisweet chocolate, for shaving

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Crush the Oreos finely (a food processor works well here, or the old-fashioned Ziploc bag and rolling pin trick). Pour in melted butter and combine. Press into a pie pan and bake for 5-7 minutes until set. Let cool fully.

For the filling, add the cream to the bowl of an electric mixer and whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.  Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.

Rig together a makeshift double boiler but placing a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, ensuring that the water doesn’t touch the bowl (this will cook the eggs too quickly and cause them to scramble). Combine the eggs, sugar, and water in the bowl and beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until the mixture has thickened and reaches 160˚ F on an instant read thermometer, about 7-10 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and from the heat and beat 6-8 minutes more, until the mixture is fluffy and cooled to room temperature.

Beat in the melted chocolate and vanilla until well blended. Then, beat in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until well blended. Gently fold in the chilled whipped cream until the mixture is streak-free. Spread the filling into the cooled crust and chill the pie for at least 3 hours until set (we refrigerated it overnight).

When ready to serve, top with a generous layer of whipped cream. Grate some chocolate over the pie using a microplane zester. Slice and serve. Enjoy!