The other day, I posted a dangerous tres leches cake with dulce de leche. Well, it must be dulce de leche week over at Spork or Foon? headquarters, because I now present to you, dear readers, a dulce de leche cake! HOLLA!
A friend was celebrating her birthday by having a dinner party at home with her friends (her boyfriend is a former chef) asked if I could help her boyfriend cook for her birthday and also make a cake. She suggested a dulce de leche cake. I smiled and said, "Sure!", all the while thinking in my head, "What is a dulce de leche cake?"
At first, I thought it was a tres leches cake. Then she sent me a link with a photo and described the cake as a vanilla cake with dulce de leche filling in between the layers. She also suggested a confectioners' sugar frosting, which she says is common in Panama (where she is from).
My mind was racing. I spent days searching different dulce de leche recipes. But finally I decided to make like Frank Sinatra and do it my way.
Sorry. Bad pop culture reference.
I wanted the best white cake recipe, so I went to my trusty companion, Cooks Illustrated (sorry, Google, you've been bumped this time). But I wanted to make sure it was the best. Luckily, I found this white cake comparison that pitted Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake vs. CI's Fluffy White Cake from The Way the Cookie Crumbles. I liked the height of CI's white cake, so decided to go for it.
And the results were awesome. The cake was light, moist, and fluffy, and baked up with the smoothest top with very little "doming".
Chris Kimball, founder of Cooks Illustrated, you and your bowtie have done me right again.
Doesn't he look proud of me?
I filled the cake with a deliciously sweet dulce de leche and wanted to do something a bit different for the icing. I wanted a caramel buttercream. The first caramel buttercream recipe I found was a Paula Deen recipe. I made it and thought, I should have known this would be SWEEEEEEET. I mean, SWEET. This from the woman who has taken a drink of melted butter.
A. drink. of. MELTED. BUTTER.
Although the buttercream was sweet, it was delicious, so off I went with it.
I was very happy with the final look of my cake, but Jack had to go and burst my bubble when I inserted the chocolate pieces.
"It looks like a stegosaurus."
Who asked you?!
When the cake was presented at the party, everyone oohed and aaahed and people loved it. Most people didn't finish their slices, though, because dinner was a 3-hour, 4 course dinner.
Dessert always gets the shaft in that situation.
I also think it was the buttercream. As the night progressed, I actually wished I used a lighter frosting, like a whipped cream frosting on the cake to keep it lighter.
Next time, I'll get you cake. And there will be a next time.
Dulce de Leche Cake
Combine milk, eggs, and extract in a 2-quart measuring cup. (I forgot to take a picture of this).
Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer on low speed. Add butter and mix until mixture contains coarse crumbs.
Add all but 1/2 cup milk into flour mixture.
And beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes (I actually used a timer on this... CI means business when they give you times and I didn't want Chris Kimball coming down to my kitchen and scolding me.
Add remaining milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Scrape sides of bowl and beat for another 20 seconds.
Divide cake mixture evenly between cake pans and bake at 350 F for 23-25 minutes.
How perfect does this cake look?
For the frosting: Melt 1/2 stick butter and add 1 cup packed dark brown sugar and 1/3 cup heavy cream.
Cook until the sugar is dissolved.
Transfer to a heat proof bowl and slowly add up to 3 cups of powdered sugar stopping when your frosting has reached it's desired consistency. NOTE - this frosting dries very quickly. Once you spread it on the cake, you must work quickly to smooth it out! If the frosting dries, add a little milk or heavy cream to smoothen it out again.
Choose your most level cake layer and place it bottom side up on a plate or turntable.
Place dulce de leche in a pastry bag with a large coupler tip and line the outside border of the cake with dulce de leche (for the dulce de leche filling, I lined this a little too close to the outside and it overflowed and streaked into my icing a bit... which I ended up liking the look of so it all worked out in the end).
Add more dulce de leche and fill in between the lines.
Repeat with remaining layers (I made a 3 layer cake).
Dulce de Leche Cake with Caramel Buttercream
- Cake recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated (I also made a 3-layer cake, but this recipe is for a 2-layer cake. To add the 3rd layer, increase ingredients by 1/2)
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), plus more for dusting the pans
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
- Caramel Frosting
- Dulce De Leche (storebought or homemade)
- Set oven rack in middle position. (If oven is too small to cook both layers on a single rack, set racks in upper-middle and lower-middle positions.) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.
- Pour milk, egg whites, and extract into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.
- Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.
- Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.
- Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.
- Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Reinvert onto additional wire racks. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Layer cakes with dulce de leche, frost with caramel buttercream and decorate as you wish!