Category Archives: Tutorials

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cake

Peanut butter plays a big part in my life. I eat it every single day. This proves two things;  I’m an extreme creature of habit, and that I love peanut butter (I put it in my oatmeal every morning!!). When I realized National Peanut Butter Day was just around the corner (January 24th), I knew it deserved a cake. I grew up on PB&J sandwiches, and have wanted to make a peanut butter and jelly cake for quite a while. The stars seemed to align, and I finally had the perfect opportunity to relive my childhood through cake!! The recipe and instructions are included below.

Vanilla Cake Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cup (416 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp (13 grams) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 grams) salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or 2 sticks (226 grams), room temperature
  • 2 tsp. (9 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup egg whites (244 grams) – about 7 large egg whites; I use egg whites from the carton to avoid wasting egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil

American Buttercream Ingredients: 

  • 6 sticks (3 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup of peanut butter + 2 Tbsp heavy cream (to be added once made)

Additional Ingredients and Decorations: 

  • 1 jar of your favorite jam or jelly (I used strawberry jam)
  • 1 bag freeze dried strawberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped, salted peanuts
  • Additional peanut butter (to drizzle and spread on the sides of the cake)
  • 8 medium sized strawberries

Instructions:

Begin by making the vanilla cake layers. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7” round pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake 37-38 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

Once the layers have fully cooled, trim the caramelized bits from the sides of the layers using a serrated knife. While these layers bake pretty flat, sometimes I’ll also trim the top of the layers too. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.

While the layers bake and cool, prepare the vanilla and peanut butter frosting. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

NOTE: When making frosting for a cake, it is important to mix the buttercream on low at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process. This will make it easier to get super smooth sides on your cake!

Once the vanilla frosting is made, place 1/4 of the frosting in a separate bowl. Add 1 cup of your favorite peanut butter, and 2 additional Tbsp of heavy cream. Mix until fully incorporated and smooth.

Fill one large piping bag with vanilla frosting (to create a frosting dam, to contain the jam that will be added between each layer).

Then it’s time for the best part, the assembly of the cake! Stack cake layers, and pipe a ring of vanilla buttercream around the edge of the layer.Spread a layer of peanut butter buttercream inside the vanilla frosting, then add a drizzle of warm peanut butter (I heated a small jar in the microwave for about 20 seconds).

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Chill the cake in the freezer for about 2 minutes to allow the peanut butter to firm up, then spread jam on top, ensure it’s contained by the ring of vanilla frosting.

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Repeat this process with all remaining cake layers. Cover the cake in a thin layer of vanilla frosting (crumb coat) to trap any run-away crumbs. Chill the cake in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes, until the buttercream is firm to the touch.

Next, add a thicker, second layer of vanilla buttercream. Use a bench scraper to smooth the sides of the cake, then add on dabs of peanut butter. Smooth again using a bench scraper, to create a watercolor effect with the peanut butter. You can see a full tutorial on how to frost a cake with smooth sides here. Use a small offset spatula to smooth the top of the cake.

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Add crushed freeze-dried strawberries and chopped peanuts around the base of the cake. Spread peanut butter on the sides of a piping bag fitted with aWilton 1M frosting tip, then fill with vanilla buttercream.  Pipe 8 larger swirls on top of the cake, and place a strawberry on top of each swirl. Sprinkle additional freeze-dried strawberries between the swirls.

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This cake serves about 16 people, so be sure you have lots of friends around to help you enjoy it!! It is every peanut butter lovers’ dream, and is an epic way to celebrate one of my favorite national food holidays. While the outside of the cake is pretty, the inside is really the star of the show! Just look at jam!!

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Marbled Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies

I rarely step outside of the realm of cakes, but my office was hosting a cookie challenge and I couldn’t resist whipping something up! There is no baking blog I trust more than Sally’s Baking Addiction (every recipe she shares is MAGIC!), so I used her sugar cookie recipe as the base for these. Just like always, the recipe delivered! The cookies were soft, chewy, and most importantly they kept their shape! They didn’t spread at all, and had nice clean edges. I swapped out some of the vanilla and almond extract with maple extract to mix things up, but other than that I followed Sally’s recipe to a T.

The icing was a whole different story. I’ve never made royal icing before, so this was definitely a learn-as-you-go experience. I didn’t want to deal with a double boiler and fresh egg whites, so I decided to try a recipe by Wilton, and added some maple extract into the frosting. Making the base frosting isn’t too difficult. The hard part is getting this base to flooding consistency so you can dip the cookies into it. I found that the figure 8 test is the best way to ensure you have the right consistency (thank you Serious Eats for the tip!!!). If the figure 8 disappears in exactly 8 seconds, the icing is ready to use as a cookie glaze (more details below!).

And then there’s the design! I’d seen marbled sugar cookies on Instagram, and when I saw these beauties by Sana Sodawala (@sugarbase_) pop up on my explore page, I was totally inspired!! Below are all the recipes I used, the things I learned along the way, and a step-by-step tutorial.

Sugar Cookie Dough (adapated from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons maple extract
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Royal Icing (adapted from Wilton)

  • 3 tbsp meringue powder
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 5-6 Tbsp water, room temp
  • 2 tsp. maple extract
  • additional water to bring to flooding consistency (I believe I used around 4 1/2 Tbsp – but this can vary!)

Instructions:

Begin by making the sugar cookie dough. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy (at least 2 minutes). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, vanilla, and maple extract and beat on high until fully combine, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Mix in the baking powder and salt. On a low speed, add about half of the flour, beating just until combined. Add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until the dough has just barely come together. If the dough still seems too soft, you can add 1 Tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.

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Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Lightly flour the parchment paper and your rolling pin, then roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment to about 1/4″ thickness. Stack the pieces (with parchment paper) onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Chilling is what allows the cookies to keep their shape, so this step is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (silicone baking mats work best!). The number of batches you bake will depend on how large/small you cut your cookies. Remove one of the dough sheets from the refrigerator and using a cookie cutter, cut in shapes.

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Transfer the cut cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Chill the cut out shapes for another 10 minutes, then pop the trays into the oven.

Bake for 8-10 minutes (varies based on size and thickness of cookie), until the edges just begin to lightly brown. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through bake time, to ensure they’re evenly cooked. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing (at least 1 hour).

While the cookies cool, make the royal icing. Place confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and combine with short, slow pulses. Add in the water and maple extract, and mix on a medium speed until stiff peaks form (takes about 5 minutes). Next, add in water 1 Tbsp at a time until flooding consistency is reached. I had to add about 4 1/2 Tbsp of water, but I also think I was a bit heavy handed adding in the powdered sugar.

To test the consistency, use the Figure 8 test!! Lift up your spoon or spatula, and create a figure 8 with the run off frosting. If the figure 8 disappears in exactly 8 seconds, the icing is ready to use as a cookie glaze. If it melts away faster, thicken by adding a spoonful of powdered sugar. If it takes longer than 8 seconds to disappear, thin by adding a few drops of cream. Repeat this test, making adjustments as you go, until the figure 8 takes exactly 8 seconds to disappear.To prevent crusting, place saran wrap directly on top of the royal icing. This is very important!! If you leave the frosting exposed to air for too long, it will crust and form a chunky top layer! Be sure keep frosting covered until right before you plan to use it.

Once you’re ready to frost the cooled cookies, color 1/2 cup of the royal icing bright green, and place into a piping bag. Color another 1/2 of frosting a deep green, and place in a separate piping bag.

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Cut the tips of both piping bags to create a small opening (1/4 of an inch). Drizzle both green frosting over the uncolored icing. Use a toothpick to drag lines through the colors to create a swirled pattern. Then dunk cookies in to the glaze, one at a time. Be sure to cover the entire surface of the cookie.

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Allow some of the frosting to run off before carefully flipping the cookie frosting side up, and placing onto a wire rack to dry. This part can get a bit messy, so be sure to have paper towels or a hand towel nearby. After each cookie, drizzle and swirl a bit more of the green icing, to ensure every cookie is nice and colorful.

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Allow the cookies to dry for at least 3 hours. The frosting should be firm to the touch, but I was still too scared to stack them on top of each other!! I placed them in a large, flat box, to bring into work.

I used a variety of cookie cutters (I have a ton of cookie cutters I’ve never used, and I wanted to break them in :P), and also made some cacti, a couple cats, and mini gingerbread shaped men.

 

Holiday Tree Stump Cake

For this week’s live stream, I made my take on a Yule Log cake! It really is more a festive tree stump than a classic Buche de Noel, but I think it gets the holiday spirit across. It uses the techniques of a Swiss roll cake,  but then kicks things up a notch by frosting the roll cake vertically!!

This cake is made with chocolate sponge cake layers, filled with a peanut butter buttercream, and covered in chocolate ganache.  The recipe and instructions can be found below:

Chocolate Cake Batter: (recipe adapted from Love and Olive Oil)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup black cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 ounces milk chocolate chips

Peanut Butter Buttercream:

  • 3 sticks or 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Milk Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 bag mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Additional Decorations:

  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • Round, red sprinkles
  • marzipan
  • sliced almonds

Instructions:

Make the milk chocolate ganache first, as it needs at least a few hours to cool and set. To make, simply place both the chocolate and heavy cream in a heat proof bowl, and heat it for 30 second increments (stirring between). Usually after about 2 minutes of heat, all the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is fully incorporated, place plastic wrap over the top of the ganache, and let it sit at room temperature. Before adding the room temperature ganache to a cake, I give it a slow stir with a spatula.

Next, prepare the chocolate cake layers. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly butter two half sheet pans; line bottom with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar until combined. Mix in vanilla and espresso powder.

Heat the butter and chocolate chips in the microwave for 2, 30 second intervals, stirring between. Let the mixture sit for one minute, then stir until all chocolate pieces are melted. If any chocolate bits remain, heat for another 30 seconds.

Slowly pout into the egg mixture while mixer is at a low speed, and scrape down the sides as needed with a spatula. Pour dry ingredients over top into the bowl in two installments, and fold together large rubber spatula. Spread evenly between the two prepared pans, offset spatula to ensure even distribution.

Bake for about 18 minutes, or until the a toothpick inserted into the center of the layer comes out clean. Remove from oven, and allow the layers to cool for 1 minutes. turn out the cake upside down onto a piece of parchment paper sprinkled lightly with cocoa. You can also use a clean dish towel, but I found that parchment paper works much better!!

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Peel away parchment paper from bottom of cake, then gently roll each cake layer and place on a cooling rack. Set the rolled-up cake seam-side down, and let cool until just slightly warm to the touch, about 25 minutes.

While the layers cool prepare the peanut butter buttercream. Beat the butter and peanut butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.

When the layers have cooled for about 25 minutes, carefully unroll them. Don’t worry if there are a few cracks in your layers, the buttercream will fill them and once you rolls the layer back up, they wont be visible! Gently spread a thick layer of frosting over layer. Line them up so the the short sides are touching, and begin to re-roll the layers.

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Continue until you get to the end of the first roll, and then carefully align the second layer, and continue rolling until both layers have been combined into one large log. This part will be messy!! Place seam side down on a cooling rack, and place in the freezer to help the cake cool into its rolled shape.

Let the cake chill for about 1 hour, then remove from the freezer. Use a sharp knife to trim about 1 inch away from both sides of the cake roll, to make them flat. Spread a large dab of buttercream into the center of the cake round, and carefully place the log vertically, securing it in the buttercream.

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Frost the top of the cake with leftover peanut butter buttercream, and use a fork to create lines in the frosting to resemble tree rings.

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Cover the sides of the cake in chocolate ganache, adding a bit more around the base in certain areas to resemble the roots of a tree stump. Use an offset spatula to drag ganache up the cake, to give the bark some texture. Use marzipan to make mushrooms, and add red round sprinkles to look like small berries.

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Sprinkle chopped pistachios around the base, and a little bit onto the top of the stump to look like moss. The cut into the cake, and see the vertical layers created by rolling the cake layers!

 

 

 

Banana Monster Smash Cake

I’ve made some smash cakes in the past, but wanted to make a slightly larger smash cake this time! This cake is made with 7 inch cake rounds, and really would be great for a child’s birthday at any age! Or for any adults who enjoy monsters 😛 This cake is make with a moist banana cake layer, and frosted with a cream cheese buttercream.

Banana Cake Batter

1 1/2 cups (310g) sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (240ml) mashed bananas (3 medium sized bananas)

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting

  • 6 sticks or 3 cups (650 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz cream cheese frosting (230g), room temperature
  • 16 cups (1814 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp (36 grams) salt
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 grams) heavy cream
  • 2 tsp (8 grams) vanilla
  • Blue and orange colored gel food coloring

Additional Decorations:

  • black and white fondant
  • grass tip (I used a wilton 233)
  • 2 pieces of dried spaghetti or 2 tooth pics (to secure the monster horns)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line and grease 3 7 inch pans, and 1 6 inch pan.

Cream together the butter and sugar on medium high speed for 2 minutes, until the butter becomes lighter in color and is fluffy. Mix in the eggs one at a time, then add the oil, vanilla  and buttermilk. Add in the mashed bananas and on a low speed, until just incorporated. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add into the wet ingredients in 3 phases. Divide batter evenly between two bowls, and color one blue with gel food coloring. Alternate spoons of white and blue batter into the pans, then swirl the colors together using an offset spatula or butter knife. You can see a full tutorial on how to make swirled cake layers here.

Bake layers for about 26 minutes. Once removed from the oven, carefully run a small offset spatula around the perimeter of the pan, to separate the layers. Let these cool for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove them from the pans and place in the freezer for about 45 minutes (accelerates the cooling process).

While the layers bake and cool, prepare the buttercream frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).To watch a full tutorial on how I make my frosting, you can click here.

Color 1/2 the frosting a deep shade of blue, color 1/4 a light shade of blue, and 1/4  orange. Place into piping bags with a 1.5 cm opening (I simply cut the tips of the bags).

Stack and frost layers. Pipe rings on top of each cake layer, starting at the perimeter of the cake layer, working your way into the center. Be sure to follow the same color pattern (blue, light blue, orange), but alternate which color you start frosting with each layer.

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Place the 6 inch cake layer on top of the 7 in layers. Use a serrated knife to trim the edges of the 6 inch layer, to created a dome shaped top. Cover the cake in a thin crumb coat, and chill in the freezer or fridge for about 5 minutes. Place remaining blue and orange frosting into two piping bags with a grass tip.

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While the crumb coat chills, make the fondant facial features. You can get creative here and make however many eyes you want (I went with two, but have done one and three in the past). Make a mouth and horns, and insert either toothpicks or dry pieces of spaghetti into the horns. Set aside on parchment paper.

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Once the crumb coat is firm to the touch, pipe on the second layer of frosting to look like fur! I added orange fur spots first, then the fondant facial features. I filled in the remaining open space with blue frosting fur.

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Wrap the frosting bags with paper towels or a thin towel to help limit the amount of heat your hands transfer to the frosting. Once all the fur is on, add the horns. Then cut in to see the swirled layers and fun striped frosting patter!

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I really enjoyed making this little monster! If you want to use natural food coloring, you can try using India Tree food coloring (you can buy online or at whole foods). It’s not as vibrant as the Americolor gel food coloring I used here, but it does add color in a natural way.

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The Best Cream Cheese Frosting

I get asked a lot about my cream cheese frosting recipe, and I’m finally sharing it! A lot of cream cheese frosting recipes taste great, but don’t hold their shape.  This can be super frustrating when you’re trying to get super smooth sides on a cake, or pipe some fun designs onto a cupcake!! That’s what makes this frosting recipe so fantastic; it has the tang of a cream cheese frosting, but is sturdy like my classic american buttercream! It’s great for piping on cupcakes, and smoothing on cakes. The recipe and tutorial are included below:

When using this recipe to frost my favorite vanilla layer cake recipe (which is amazing and bakes flat!!), which can be used to make four 7 inch or 8 inch cake layers, I usually make 1.5 – 2 batches, depending on how I’m decorating the cake.

Cream Cheese Buttercream Ingredients: 

  • 3 sticks or 1.5 cups (325 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese frosting (115g), room temperature
  • 8 cups (907 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (3 grams) salt
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 grams) heavy cream
  • 1 tsp (4 grams) vanilla

Instructions:

Beat the butter and cream cheese on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla and salt, and beat on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

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NOTE: If you are making frosting for a cake, it is important to mix the buttercream on low at the end of the process for a couple minutes, to get out any extra air that might have be incorporated during the mixing process. This will make it easier to get super smooth sides on your cake!

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Apple Pie Layer Cake

In the spirit of Fall, I wanted to make some pies! That was, until I remembered that I’m terrified of pie crust, and thought better of it! Instead, I wound up making this Apple Pie Layer Cake. It’s made with a cinnamon spice layer cake, cinnamon buttercream, and an apple pie filling. It’s basically a pie and cake all wrapped up in four layers of deliciousness, without the fuss of ice cold butter and a pastry cutter.

For the decoration of this cake, I was inspired by Milk and Water Baking Co! Their beautiful and vibrant frosting techniques have taken over Instagram by storm, and I couldn’t resist trying it out on this cake! The full recipe and tutorial can be found below:

Cinnamon Spice Cake Batter:

  • 3 1/4 cup (416 grams) all purpose flour
  • 3 cups (600 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp (13 grams) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 grams) salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted butter or 2 sticks (226 grams), room temperature
  • 2 tsp. (9 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup egg whites (244 grams) – about 7 large egg whites; I use egg whites from the carton to avoid wasting egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 grams) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil

Apple Pie Filling: 

  • 1/2 cup of water (120ml)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50g)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar (25g)
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch (30g)
  • 2 Tbsp water (30ml)
  • 1 1/2 cups of diced apples, peeled and cored (about 1 1/2 large apples – I used granny smith) (200g)

Cinnamon Buttercream:

  • 6 sticks or 3 cups (about 650 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 cups (1,360 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp (6 grams) salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. (60 grams) heavy cream
  • 3 tsp (12 grams) vanilla
  • optional: fall colored gel food coloring (I used yellow, orange, red, and brown)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line four 8″ round pans with parchment rounds.

Being by making the cinnamon spice cake batter. Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 35-37 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Remove the layers from the pans, wrap in saran wrap, and place in the freezer. It’s ok if they’re still warm, this will help lock in the moisture, making delicious, moist layers!

While the layers bake and cool, prepare the apple pie filling. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp of cinnamon into a large sauce pan, and bring to a boil at a medium high heat. Mix together the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar, 2 Tbsp of water, and 3 Tbsp of cornstarch to create a slurry (to thicken the filling). Add this slurry to the sauce pan, and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens (should happen pretty quickly). Add the diced apples, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for 5 minutes, until the apples are partially tender (you don’t want them to get too soft, and turn to mush!!) remove from heat and set aside to cool fully.

Next, prepare the cinnamon buttercream. Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream. Once fully mixed, add in the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt, and beat on medium low until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached. If the frosting is too thick, add in cream (1 teaspoon at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).

Once all the components are prepared, it’s time to assemble the cake! Secure the first cake layer to the cake board with a small dab of buttercream. Pipe a thick ring of buttercream around the perimeter of the layer. Fill the center with about 1/2 cup of the apple pie filling. repeat with remaining layers. Apply a thin layer of frosting around the outside of the cake (crumb coat), and smooth with a bench scraper. chill for about 10 minutes in the fridge (or 5 in the freezer), until the crumb coat is firm to the touch.

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To create the Milk and Water Baking Co look, color the remaining frosting fall colors (orange, yellow, red, brown), and blend together in piping bags with various piping tips.

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Pipe colorful bursts of frosting around the cake, until the entire cake is covered. I combined some of the colors into piping bags, and tried to spread out the colors to give it a somewhat uniform look.

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I added some rosettes and squiggles using a wilton 1M, and some ruffles and cherry blossom flowers using a petal tip.

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Once the cake is fully covered, it’s time to enjoy!! This cake not only looks like Fall, it tastes like it too 🙂

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