Honey Poppy Seed Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Today's baking project is a beautiful layered birthday cake. Although the heat is starting to dissipate, it still gets pretty steamy in the middle of the day. This cake is tart and sweet, and covered with a blanket of rich butterscotch. It's absolutely delicious, and perfect for a cool summer night celebration.
I have to confess that I over baked the cake a little, but the interior is still light and fluffy, albeit the dark bottom. The recipe says to moisten the cake layers with cream, which I've never done before, but it's actually a great way to keep layered cakes without adding extra sugar. All the components can be made ahead of time, including the butterscotch, which makes assembling a breeze.
This is not one of my go-to cake bases and the steps are quite unconventional, especially folding a baking soda solution into the batter instead of with a flour mix. I suspect it's the alkalinity that gives the cake a darker colour. You will barely taste the lemon, but more of a deep, burnt honey aroma.
Honey Poppy Seed Cake
Makes 1 3-tiered 8" cake. Adapted from momsdish.
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cups poppy seeds
Preheat oven to 350F. In a standmixer fitted with a whisk, beat eggs with sugar, until it’s three times in volume. Drizzle in honey into the mixture and beat again until combined.
Into a small dish, combine lemon juice together with baking soda. It will bubble up and dissolve. Add the baking soda mixture into the egg mixture, fold in to combine with a spatula. Fold in flour by thirds; be very gentle with the dough, so you don't over-mix it and lose the fluffiness. When you get to the last third, mix in poppy seeds as well.
Butter and line an 8" springform tin. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 40 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan until cool to touch, and release from the pan.
When completely cool, remove the top of the cake with a serrated knife and slice the cake into three equal parts. Soak all sides with around 2 tablespoons of whipping cream.
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup or 1 stick butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1½ teaspoons vanilla
- Make sure everything is at room temperature before you start. In a standmixer fitted with a paddle, cream cream cheese until soft. Add in butter and cream together until light and fluffy.
- Sift over confectioner's sugar, ½ a cup at a time, and mix at the highest speed setting for about 10 seconds after each addition. When the confectioner's sugar is mixed through, beat in vanilla and cream until light and fluffy. Set aside at room temperature and use right away. If not, store in the refrigerator, bring to room temperature and give it a quick whip before you use it.
Salted Dark Butterscotch Glaze
Makes 2 cups. Adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine
1 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup half and half (or heavy cream)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Combine sugar and water in a medium-size sauce pan. Stir gently to combine and bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Don't stir as it will cause sugar crystals to form on the sides of the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high, allowing the mixture to come to a boil. This will take about 6-8 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally. I didn't use Cleobuttera's recipe but she explains the process in great detail here.
Once the mixture reaches a deep amber color, remove from heat. Add the cream, vanilla, and salt – it will bubble up furiously. Turn heat back down to low and stir continuously until mixture is smooth, and reaches a thick but pourable consistency. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until incorporated. Allow caramel mixture to cool to lukewarm before drizzling over cake.
- Use a cardboard circle as a cake base. Dab a bit of frosting on the center to secure the bottom cake layer. With a pastry brush, brush on around 1/4 cup of whipping cream to moisten the cake. Drop around 1/2 cup of frosting on the center and using an offset spatula, spread the frosting all the way to the sides, it will be around 1/2".
- Place another cake layer on top and lightly press, making sure the frosting doesn't squish out a lot. Repeat again with brushing on the whipping cream and spreading the frosting.
- Place the last layer of cake and coat with a final layer of frosting. The top layer should be slightly thinner than the filling layers. Turning the cake as you go, smooth out the sides with the offset spatula, just like applying a crumb coat. For a naked effect like mine, the frosting doesn't have to coat the sides evenly, so some areas reveals the darker shade of the cake.
- When you're happy with the sides, clean you spatula so no crumbs are sticking to it. Hold the spatula horizontally and tilted away, hold it against the edge of the cake furthest away from you, and pull the frosting towards yourself to smooth out the top. Rotate and continue until the entire circumference has a crisp 90 degree edge. Set in the fridge for around 4 hours, or overnight.
- When you are ready to glaze, make sure the butterscotch is at a pouring consistency. Using a large spoon and starting from the edges, slowly drizzle the butterscotch to achieve the look you want. Once the sides are glazed, pour around 1/2 cup of butterscotch on the top and smooth out with a small offset spatula. Decorate with sprinkles, fruits, crunchy bits, as you like!