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I am working mom who loves to cook and bake. I hope to keep track of recipes and share some of my better ones. In the process, hopefully my photography and cooking will get better and better!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Neapolitan Six Layer Cake



So when I asked my soon to be  three year old what he wanted for a cake for his birthday, he told me "Strawberry.  Strawberry and chocolate."  Yes, this is the same kid who when I put down a plate of homemade biscuits and eggs for breakfast, asked me for gravy.  Chocolate gravy, of course.  But that's a post for another day....To his future wife: I'm sorry.   Get in the kitchen.  (for the record, I completed what I fondly refer to as 27th grade...)

Secretly I was delighted.  I'd had my eye on just such a cake.... Annie's Eats and Sweetapolita, where you should always turn when you have a seemingly insurmountable baking problem, had the answer!!  As always, that girl came through, fulfilling not only strawberry and chocolate but also vanilla.  I have changed a few things, mainly by just making it 6 layers.  Why stop at 5?  For a variation you could put the strawberry meringue buttercream in between, but I wouldn't do that if you make it as a rose cake (Amanda gives a great tutorial!!).  The roses use a lot of frosting.  A LOT.  I know they look complicated, but all you need is a 1M tip (<$2 plus shipping) and a functional wrist.  You can see I underbaked these a touch and that's why they are a little sunken.  But even still, it's a durn purty cake.  The chocolate and vanilla are really good, the strawberry is yummy too, although it's a little reminiscent of frankenberry.  Next time I make it I will use this recipe from Shawnda.   Although, I'll have to add some food coloring...that cake is just not pink enough for those under 4.

Somehow I just couldn't get everyone to say the name right...Neopolean, Napolean, any perversion- but they kept asking for it, so that's a good thing!






Neapolitan Layer Cake:
Barely adapted from Annie's Eats and Sweetapolita
Ingredients:
For the chocolate cake:
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. dark cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
1 large egg
½ cup black coffee
½ cup buttermilk
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
For the white cake:
2 large egg whites
1¾ cup all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup very cold water
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. almond extract
For the strawberry cake:
1¼ cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1½ oz. strawberry gelatin
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
½ cup milk
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup sweetened strawberry puree*
For the filling:
Easy vanilla buttercream or good quality strawberry jam
For the strawberry buttercream frosting:
1½ cups fresh strawberries (8 oz.), rinsed, hulled and coarsely chopped*
4 large egg whites
1¼ cups sugar
3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
*To make the strawberry puree, just process fresh or frozen strawberries in a food processor.  
Directions:
To make the chocolate cake, spray  with baker's joy (or butter and flour, shaking out excess) a 9-inch round pan.  Line the bottom with a round of parchment.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, vegetable oil and egg.  Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, blend in half of the dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated.  Blend in the coffee, buttermilk and vanilla just until smooth.  Beat in the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and as soon as it's not going to burn your fingers (about 5 minutes for my cook's hands), turn out onto plastic wrap, wrap tightly, wrap with aluminum foil, and stick in the freezer.

To make the white cake, spray  with baker's joy (or butter and flour, shaking out excess) a 9-inch round pan.  Line the bottom with a round of parchment..  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy.  Increase speed to medium high and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  Transfer the egg whites to another bowl and set aside.  In the bowl of the electric mixer now fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Blend in the water, vanilla and almond extracts.  Beat in the remaining dry ingredients just until incorporated.  With a silicone spatula, stir in about a quarter of the egg whites to lighten the batter.  Gently fold in the remaining egg whites, until the batter is smooth and no streaks remain.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and as soon as it's not going to burn your fingers (about 5 minutes for my cook's hands), turn out onto plastic wrap, wrap tightly, wrap with aluminum foil, and stick in the freezer.
To make the strawberry cake, butter and flour the edges of a 9-inch round pan, shaking out the excess flour.  Line the bottom with a round of parchment.  In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend and set aside.  Combine the sugar, strawberry gelatin and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat the eggs into the sugar mixture one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until incorporated.  Blend in the milk and vanilla extract.  Add in the remaining dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.  Blend in the strawberry puree.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and as soon as it's not going to burn your fingers (about 5 minutes for my cook's hands), turn out onto plastic wrap, wrap tightly, wrap with aluminum foil, and stick in the freezer.

At this point, go to bed.  Or go play trains,legos, or build a house out of sticks for Eeyore.   Whatever floats you.  They are easier to slice when cold anyway.    
To make the frosting, place the strawberries in a food processor or blender.  Puree until completely smooth.  Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.  I break every candy thermometer I own, so I just used the whisk kid method and tested for grittiness.  
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  The bowl will be cool to the touch.
Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more.  Keep going until it comes together!  Blend in the strawberry puree until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To assemble the cake, torte each of the cake layers horizontally into two thin halves.  Place one of the chocolate layers on a cake board or cake platter.  Top with a very thin layer of tstrawberry jam.  Place a layer of the strawberry cake on top.  Again, cover with a thin layer of strawberry jam.  Top with a layer of the white cake.  Cover with a thin layer of the  strawberry jam.  Repeat the process with the remaining layers of chocolate and strawberry cake and vanilla cake. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the strawberry buttercream.  Transfer remaining buttercream to a pastry bag fitted with a 1M tip for adding roses or you use a 103 tip and you could do ruffles.


Best-

Sue

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