Cake

After taking a break for the holidays, Sweet Melissa Sundays is back this week!  If you’re a new reader, Sweet Melissa Sundays is a group that is baking its way through The Sweet Melissa Baking Book; we only have 16 recipes remaining so we’re nearing the end.  We’ll be posting every other Sunday from here on out and this week our recipe was chosen by Candy of Candy Girl: hazelnut raspberry layer cake.

Cake

I know it’s January, which means lots of people have sworn off rich desserts like this cake, but I was pretty excited for it because I recently acquired 6″ cake pans, which meant I could halve the recipe and still make a layer cake instead of resorting to cupcakes to scale back.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cupcakes but it’s nice to have options.  This cake is a variation on one we’ve made before for the group -  toasted hazelnuts are ground with sugar to make hazelnut flour, which is combined with nutty browned butter (as well as vanilla, all-purpose flour, and baking powder) to form a thick batter.  The batter is lightened by folding in egg whites that have been whipped with sugar to create a meringue.  As they bake, the cakes puff quite a bit and then they shrink as they cool.  Mine sunk just slightly in the center, but it was nothing a little frosting couldn’t fix.

Cake

Speaking of the frosting, the recipe was for an Italian meringue buttercream flavored with raspberries and raspberry liqueur.  Italian meringue buttercream is made by pouring a sugar syrup that’s been heated to 240 F into a mixer bowl containing a meringue (egg whites and sugar whipped to stiff peaks) and beating.  Then, butter (and lots of it!) is added and the frosting is beaten until it comes together.  I was wary about adding whole raspberries that had been soaked in raspberry liqueur to the frosting, as the book directed.  I wanted a silky, smooth frosting, so instead, I made a simple raspberry puree (by heating raspberries on the stove top with just a tiny amount of water until they broke down, and then straining to remove the seeds and other solids).  I added the puree little by little until I achieved the color and taste I wanted – probably a few tablespoons total for my half frosting recipe.  The filling between the layers of the cake was simply seedless raspberry preserves.

Cake

After assembling the cake, I piped a few swirls on top and added fresh raspberries for garnish.  I wasn’t able to smooth the frosting on the sides of the cake as well as I’d have liked, but otherwise, I thought it turned out well.  The cake portion was delicious – nutty from the hazelnut flour and browned butter, and very moist.  I don’t recall previously having tried the hazelnut/raspberry combo, but it worked for me.  The frosting was just ok; I know it’s an odd complaint for a buttercream, but this one was too buttery.  I’ve made other Swiss meringue buttercreams I liked and would use one of those in the future for this cake.  Many thanks to Candy for hosting this week!  You can find the recipe for the cake on her blog or on pages 119-121 of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book.

Cake 

{Two quick final notes: First, I just wanted to remind you one last time (I promise) that I’m hosting a giveaway and today is your last chance to enter to win a copy of Eric Ripert’s new book, Avec Eric.  You can find the details here :)  Second, yesterday I mentioned that I received a Speedlite for Christmas.  Subsequently, several readers asked for more information about it.  So, here’s a link to a tutorial from White on Rice that has lots of great information and this is what my Speedlite looks like.}