As my birthday approaches every year, I start to make a mental list of all of the potential extravagant, over-the-top layer cakes that I want to bake for myself...you know, to celebrate turning a year older.
Wait a minute, what is wrong with me? Ok, so maybe I'll use any excuse to celebrate, especially if it means treating myself to a beauty like this.
This year, I decided I wanted something simple, yet sophisticated, so I went with some pretty classic flavors. Dark chocolate and strawberry.
I started by baking four layers of a super moist dark chocolate Devil's Food cake. This cake recipe has some tricks up it's sleeve in making it the moistest chocolate cake on the block. Buttermilk, vegetable oil, and hot coffee all work together in creating a beautiful moist crumb that perfectly cling to the tines on your fork as you scrounge up every last morsel on your plate.
Since my birthday comes only once a year (and lasts only a month, bahahaha), I decided to go all out and whip up a strawberry swiss meringue buttercream to fill and top the cake.
Swiss meringue buttercream can be tricky, but trust this method, I promise it will all work out in the end.
SMB's are different from typical cake frostings in that they are silky smooth and just barely sweet. Definitely a little bit of an upgrade from the everyday butter and powdered sugar frosting. Not that there's anything wrong with that, there's not!
While your cake layers are cooling, you can make the buttercream. It took me about 30 minutes to make mine and for a good 20 minutes of that, I was sweating it out, fingers crossed it would come together. And it did!
I hope you do too!
Four Layer Dark Chocolate Devil's Food And Strawberry Buttercream Cake
Makes Four 9 inch Round Cakes
3 cups AP Flour
1 cup dark cocoa powder I use this one
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Kosher salt
2 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 1/4 cup strong hot freshly brewed coffee
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour four 9 inch round cake pans. Line with parchment rounds.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the sugar.
With the mixer on low speed and fitted with the paddle attachment, add in the buttermilk, coffee, oil, and extract. Mix in eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
Divide batter evenly between pans. I weighed mine to make sure they were even.
Bake in oven 15-18 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Mine were perfect after 16 minutes. Don't over bake as cakes will be dry.
Set cakes on a cooling rack in pan for 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto your hand then invert again onto cooling rack so that they are right side up. Leave them to cool to room temperature.
Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 large fresh egg whites
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 sticks of butter, cut into cubes (I cut each stick into 16 cubes) cool, but not cold
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp strawberry flavor I use this one
1/4 cup strawberry puree
few drops of pink food coloring I use this one
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add egg whites and sugar. Set on a pot of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the simmering water.
Whisk constantly until mixture reaches 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high until mixture becomes white and fluffy and outside of bowl is almost cool to the touch. This can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes, so just keep watching and feeling as your buttercream whisks away.
You just don't want to add your butter to a warm mixture as your butter will melt into liquid.
Once your bowl is cool, switch to the paddle attachment and add your butter one cube at a time on medium-low speed until all the butter is incorporated. Mixture should be smooth. If mixture separates, keep beating until it is smooth.
Add salt, vanilla, and strawberry flavor.
Finally, add puree and food coloring, if using.
If not using immediately, refrigerate buttercream until ready to frost the cake. Remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before re-mixing in stand mixer. Mixture may become separated, but will become smooth once you keep mixing.
This is the only tricky part, but well worth the extra work!
Set one cake layer on a cake stand. Top with 1/4 of buttercream either using a piping bag (as I did) or using an offset spatula. Spread almost to the edges.
Repeat with the next two layers.
Place the final layer on top and using a star tip, pipe stars on top of the cake. I started in the middle, working my way to the edges, and filled in the holes in the end.
Alternately, you can spread frosting on top of cake using an offset spatula.
Feel free to frost the entire outside of the cake. I wanted to go with a different look, that's why I chose to leave the outside un-frosted.
Allow to chill and set in the refrigerator for one hour before slicing. Store leftovers in a cake saver in refrigerator.