NYT Butterscotch Cake

This recipe was a request from one of my friends and I can never refuse a friend! I put out a call for what people thought I should do next on my Instagram and she sent me this! It looked delicious and it ended up making one monster of a cake! I would recommend making this one for a group, it took me about two weeks to finish it off myself after I gave her half…it was a lot of cake! It was delicious but the flavor may not be for everyone! It doesn’t taste quite like caramel, contrary to the description of the recipe from the New York Times cooking section. It is definitely more of a butterscotch cake and I really enjoyed it. If you’re not a butterscotch person, you could still make the cake but change up the frosting type. The frosting is incredibly thick and lends most of the butterscotch flavor. I also followed the recipe to a tee and I would recommend not doing any crazy substitutions until after you’ve made the recipe once. I’ve found that it’s easier to substitute and get creative when I’m not forced to do so by my lack of ingredients and easier still when I’m substituting in a recipe that I’m familiar with. I’d be pretty hesitant to substitute in a complicated dessert recipe because I worry about it going wrong and wasting all the ingredients!

So how did this recipe go for me? Honestly, pretty well! The cakes were easy enough to make and once made, the cake kept really well in the refrigerator. I’d even say that I preferred to eat it cold out of the refrigerator than fresh out of the oven. This recipe calls for a stand mixer but I used a handheld. If you prefer one or the other, use that, it doesn’t matter a ton in this recipe. I think the trickiest part of the recipe was the icing. I didn’t have a problem making it on the stove but it was really hard to actually ice the cake. I choose to drizzle the icing onto the cake after I had put it on the cake stand and the icing got everywhere. Not only was the icing messy, it also hardens immediately as it cools which meant that it hardened all over my prep table as it oozed off the cake. Definitely not the ideal especially as I was frantically trying to ice it before I was expecting a delivery…. It was messy but I’d be happy to do it again now that I know about the potential for mess. I would recommend doing two passes of icing on top, an initial drizzle over the top then one last pass to even out the layer. Doing a smaller layer twice will help to keep the mess to a minimum and prevent any unnecessary icing loss. I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I did and happy baking! Let me know if you have any ideas of what I should try next in the comments below!

NYT Butterscotch Cake

For the Cake

  • 225 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 375 grams (3 cups) self-rising flour
  • 400 grams (2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 240 milliliters (1 cup) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Icing

  • 225 grams (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 440 grams (2 packed cups) dark/light brown sugar (OG recipe calls for dark, I used light)
  • 120 milliliters (1/2 cup) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 305 grams (3 cups) sifted confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour 2 nine inch cake rounds.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, four minutes. Scrape as you cream if you can.
  3. Add eggs in one at a time, mixing well and then scraping the bowl. Then alternate adding in flour and buttermilk, starting with flour and ending with flour. Add the vanilla extract last and mix gently to combine.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans (It was roughly 650 grams in each pan for me). Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, 30-40 minutes depending on your oven. Let cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes then turn out into racks and let cool completely.
  5. For the icing, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over low heat. Add the brown sugar and whisk to combine. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and let bubble for five minutes, whisking constantly to prevent any of the mixture from burning.
  6. After five minutes, carefully and slowly add the buttermilk, stirring constantly until it comes to a roiling boil. Remove from heat and add salt. Transfer to a bowl.
  7. Mixing on low, add the confectioner’s sugar, whisking until smooth. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Icing should be glossy and pour easily.
  8. While the icing is still hot, spread one cup over the top of the bottom layer then add the top layer. Use the rest of the icing on the top and sides of the cake. It will set as it cools so work quickly and carefully.
  9. Enjoy your cake!

Chocolate Cake

So I have to admit that the cover photo for today’s blog post was graciously taken by the recipients of this cake. Two of my friends recently celebrated their marriage and being a big baker, I asked if I could bake them a yummy if slightly messy cake. I had originally planned to do a butter cake with ganache frosting, a classic bumblebee cake. Looking around my pantry, I noticed I had a boxed mix of devil’s food cake that I had been dying to use and this seemed like a a perfect opportunity! Using a boxed cake mix meant that I was able to take my time with the other parts of the cake that added a lovely touch and taste. I should have taken a little extra time with the royal icing lettering but hindsight is 20/20! The royal icing was a little on the runnier side and smooshed together a little but I see that as protecting the privacy of the intended recipients!

This cake has everything! Two layers of delicious cake with a simple syrup for additional moisture with a ganache frosting and royal icing lettering! This cake was actually a two-day process which sounds daunting but I actually think it makes the whole thing much less stressful. Taking the time to properly chill the cake and the frosting allows for the icing process to be much more stress-free! I really enjoyed icing the cake, something I’m not sure that I’ve ever said before. I used to HATE icing cakes; it was always way more trouble than it was worth. I would get crumbs everywhere and could never get a smooth coating of frosting! Let me tell you that has all changed! Equipped with the right tools and knowledge, I’ve become much more at ease in the icing department. The decorations still need a little bit of work but we can’t all be perfect! To properly ice a cake, you really should use a rotating cake stand. I used to hear this all the time and thought it was a bunch of hooey but it really has some merit. It makes it so much easier to get the sides of the cake without taking off too much frosting. Using offset spatulas also helps a LOT. The funky shape to these spatulas helps to evenly distribute the frosting in an intuitive way. One word of wisdom is that the offset spatula should never actually touch the cake. The spatula is used to move around the frosting which ends up covering the cake for you.

This ganache recipe is also one that I have used for a few years but have never taken the time to use all the different bowls and pans that it calls for. Even though it makes way more dishes (which my father never appreciates), this recipe is an easy way to get lovely tempered chocolate frosting for a whole cake. The key to this ganache is the right combination of hot and cold. It’s not as finicky most tempered chocolate recipes but it does need to be warm while being made. The cacao percentage of the chocolate is also very important. The original recipe calls for 62% cacao but I’ve never been able to find that and I use 66% cacao. This is a pretty dark chocolate but doesn’t need much sugar to sweeten it. This recipe won’t really work with a smaller percentage of cacao because the ganache will be too sweet and a little oily. It’s worth the extra couple bucks to get a higher cacao percentage for this recipe. I made this ganache on the morning of the assembly of the cake and put it in the fridge to chill before applying to the cake. One super easy way to soften the ganache if it has chilled is to put in a tablespoon or two of hot water and mix it into the ganache. It helps to soften it without exposing it to the harsh temperature induced by the microwave. Not that I don’t love a good microwave but it doesn’t quite do it for this recipe. I hope that you try this recipe and let me know about your successes or failures in the comments below! Happy baking!

Thanks E for the photos!

Chocolate Cake Recipe

  • For the Cake
  • 1 box mix of chocolate cake or your favorite chocolate cake recipe
  • For the Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • For the Ganache
  • 10 ounces of 66% Cacao chocolate
  • 75 grams (2/3 cup) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 170 grams (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 42 grams (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • For the Royal Icing
  • 113 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon egg white
  1. Make the cake the day before assembly. Cut the pieces and wrap in cling wrap. Let chill in the fridge overnight.
  2. To make the ganache, combine chocolate and powdered sugar in a heatproof bowl.
  3. Put a medium pan of water on to simmer. This will act as part of a bain marie to melt the chocolate so make sure the heatproof bowl fits neatly into the top of the pot before you start the boil
  4. In a small saucepan on medium heat, warm the heavy cream to a simmer. Once simmering, pour over the chocolate mixture and stir until the sugar is melted.
  5. Nest the chocolate bowl over the pan of simmering water. Heat the bowl and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
  6. In a small heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Add about a half cup of the chocolate mixture to the eggs and whisk vigorously with a fork to temper. Once shiny, pour back into the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
  7. Add butter to chocolate and stir until smooth. Pour hot ganache through a sieve into a heatproof container and chill for at least 1 hour.
  8. While the ganache is chilling, make the simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until sugar has dissolved into the water. Remove to a heatproof container and let cool. (This simple syrup works for cocktails as well so try to make some if you have leftovers)
  9. Once the simple syrup and ganache have cooled, remove the cake from the fridge.
  10. Unwrap and gently brush a conservative amount of syrup over each half of the cake. Make sure the cake is moistened but not soaked by the syrup.
  11. Take the half of the cake that was the top and place on the cake stand. Take a generous dollop of ganache and spread it over this half.
  12. Once thoroughly frosted, put the bottom half on top, with the side that was in the bottom of the pan on top. This ensures a flat cake.
  13. Add dollops of ganache around the side of the cake. Using offset spatula, spread a thin layer of ganache over the sides.
  14. Once a thin layer is created, chill the cake for at least an hour. While it is chilling, make the royal icing.
  15. For the royal icing, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. If too thick, add a teaspoon of water until desired consistency. If too runny, add additional powdered sugar until it stiffens.
  16. Once the cake has chilled, remove from the fridge. Place a generous dollop of frosting on top and cover. Once the top is covered, add ganache to the sides to fully coat the cake.
  17. To smooth the sides, hold the offset spatula tight to the side of the cake and spin the rotating stand while holding the spatula steady. Push the excess frosting from the sides to the top of the cake. Once there, smooth off into the top layer with the spatula.
  18. Chill cake for at least 30 minutes before adding words or serve immediately. It will stay well wrapped in the fridge for five days.
  19. If adding words, put the royal icing into an icing bag with a small writing tip and write out desired message. Make sure the icing isn’t too runny or your cake may look like mine!
  20. Enjoy your cake!