Whipped Cream Layer Cake {ModBak}

I’m still baking my way through the Cakes Section of the Modern Baker Challenge, and this week’s entry is a simple and delicious layer cake. What makes this cake unique is that the butter you would normally expect to find in a cake is replaced by whipping cream. This makes sense if you recall that overwhipped cream turns into butter.

So all you are really doing with this recipe is replacing the butterfat in butter with that in whipped cream. The fat and the air whipped into the cream add to the texture, lightness, and tender crumb in this cake.

The frosting for this cake is also made with whipped cream, but the sweetness of the cake and cream are balanced by the addition of caramel to the frosting. At least, they are supposed to be.

My misadventures with caramel are legend (although I’ve had some successes, too). At least I’m at the point of not fearing caramel in recipes anymore. So I wasn’t really concerned about making the caramel for this frosting. And it seemed to come out OK. But some of it seized up when I mixed in the cream, and after pulling out the solid chunks, what remained wasn’t enough to be visible or to flavor the whipped cream in any discernible way.

No matter, because even with regular whipped cream, this cake was light, airy, and delicious. Definitely one to make again.

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Crème Fraîche {Recipe}

I recently made blini with smoked salmon and crème fraîche from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. And, as always when I make a recipe calling for crème fraîche, I looked at the price of it in the store and decided to make my own. Dorie has a recipe for crème fraîche in her book, and there are lots of recipes available online. My method differs slightly from other recipes I’ve seen and is based on my experience making it numerous times.

I start with 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Most recipes recommend using pasteurized, rather than ultra-pasteurized, whipping cream. But because ultra-pasteurized is the only kind I can regularly find, that’s what I use.

I heat the cream and buttermilk to about 100˚ to 110˚F. I find that heating the ingredients gives the culturing process a jump start.

Next, I cover the container with plastic wrap and leave it on the counter for 36 to 48 hours, stirring once or twice per day. 

I let the cream culture until it thickens and gets tangy. It won’t be quite as thick as sour cream, but it will continue to thicken in the refrigerator.

I put a tight-fitting lid on the container and store it in the fridge. It will keep for about 2 weeks and will continue to get tangier during that time.

For my money, homemade crème fraîche is every bit as good as store bought at less than half the price. Once you make it, you’ll find all sorts of things to do with it, like this:

Crème Fraîche

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Directions

  1. Heat cream and buttermilk in a small saucepan to about 110˚F.
  2. Put cream mixture in clean container, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and allow to culture at room temperature for 36 to 48 hours, stirring several times per day, until thickened and tangy.
  3. Cover container tightly and store in refrigerator.

Yields 1 cup. Best used within 2 weeks.

Bittersweet Chocolate Tart {ModBak}

This is the second tart recipe in the Sweet Tarts & Pies section of The Modern Baker. Having made the press-in cookie dough, I decided to make this tart to fill it.

Although the ingredients list is very short — heavy whipping cream, light corn syrup, bittersweet chocolate, and unsalted butter — I found the instructions a bit fussy. First, the whipping cream and corn syrup are heated, then cooled. That mixture is then whisked into the chocolate, which has also been heated, then cooled. Then the whole thing is allowed to cool before whisking in the butter a bit at a time.

None of these instructions is overly complicated. What bothered me about it was all the waiting time. Heat. Cool. Heat. Cool. Mix. Cool. It just seemed kind of unnecessary. But of course, I followed the recipe, as it was my first time making it. The next time I prepare this filling, I’ll heat the whipping cream and corn syrup, pour the hot mixture over chopped bittersweet chocolate, and whisk it until the chocolate has melted. Then I’ll cool it — once — and stir in the butter.

Once the whole thing was mixed, I scraped it into the shell and refrigerated it for an hour or so. The recipe said to bring it back to room temperature, but tell me, could you resist this?

It was delicious right from the fridge. In fact, I think I liked it slightly chilled more than at room temperature, although I wouldn’t turn it down either way. Nick wasn’t exaggerating when he said this tart needs no adornment. It was so good — sweet, a little tart, richer than a sugar daddy, and perfect with the cookie dough crust.

This is definitely one that will make frequent appearances around here.