today’s taste: eggnog layer cake
Happy holidays, readers – from California’s newest (and palest) amateur baker and blogger! Apologies for the blog lull; I know this post is long overdue. I would blame the move for the delay, but my conscience won’t allow it. Once my shipment arrived in California (which, to be fair, did take nearly four weeks – I don’t recommend a casual cross-country move), the first thing I did was unpack the kitchen boxes. The new kitchen has been fun; when I saw my first month’s rent leave my bank account, I started wondering whether the new stainless steel kitchen appliances that I had insisted on during the apartment search were worth it. But working from home over the past two months has allowed me to spend quite a bit of time with those appliances, and I have no regrets. (Keep an eye out for the pumpkin snickerdoodles coming soon!) I am missing the bakeware collection of the DC house, though. More importantly, I’m missing the residents of the DC house – baking partners and taste testers alike. If I continue eating everything I bake, I should go ahead and abandon any and all “fitness”-themed New Year’s resolutions…
All excuses for low post activity aside, though, I have one person in particular to thank for getting Emily and me back on the blog! Even though I pose as a California girl these days, I’m spending the holidays in Charlotte, North Carolina with my family. The day after Christmas, I drove with my parents and siblings to another North Carolina town called Little Washington (which residents actually call the Original Washington – supposedly, it was around before Honey Dukes Homemade’s hometown of Washington, DC!) for a family oyster roast. At the oyster roast, my Aunt Pat asked when she would see the next update. She said she subscribed to the blog and read every post, and that the friends she had shared HDHM with did the same. Without being sentimental, I have to say that I was both thrilled and touched to learn that readership extended beyond Emily’s and my parents, roommates, and boyfriends (the required groups!). So, thank you, Aunt Pat, for the nudge!
Now, a holiday blog recipe has to meet a higher standard than an everyday blog recipe. You don’t bake during the holidays just for yourself, or a few friends and roommates, or a significant other. You bake for the extended family, the neighbors, the neighbors’ extended family, etc. Taste matters and looks matter. ‘Tis the season (for judging every contribution to the potluck)!
Today is New Year’s Day and that typically marks the end of the holidays, but (for better or for worse) there’s a full weekend ahead, and this cake will not let you (or any of your dinner table companions) down. A couple weeks ago, I stumbled across a recipe for an eggnog cake. I lost the magazine but hung onto the idea and crafted my own cake – and it was good. The eggnog flavor is rich and perfectly festive without being overkill, and the light white cake complements the creamy frosting deliciously. Speaking of the frosting: it is to die for. I usually like, rather than love, frosting. But in this case, I licked the beaters and scraped the bowl clean with my fingers and felt no guilt about it. This recipe also makes a little extra frosting, so you might consider increasing the frosting-to-cake ratio by doing three cake layers instead of two. Two layers or three – you can’t go wrong.
My mom is a little (a lot) superstitious, and she says the way you spend New Year’s Day is the way you spend the New Year (I’m not sure if it predicts, or somehow influences, or just indicates, but I’ve stopped asking questions). I spent today baking and blogging, and I like the idea of doing that all year long. We hope you’ll enjoy our baking and blogging (almost) as much as we do! Happy New Year!
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup eggnog
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 8 ounces (1 block) cream cheese, softened
- 8 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup eggnog
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- For cake: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and cover the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper.
- Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed for 30 seconds. Continue beating and gradually add the sugar. Beat until light-colored, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on high speed for 30 seconds after each addition and scraping down the bowl as necessary. after all the eggs have been added, beat for 1 additional minute.
- Add about one-third of both the flour mixture and the eggnog and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Add the vanilla and then the remaining flour and eggnog in two batches, beating between additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir by hand to finish. Be careful not to overmix.
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Turn the pans back and forth on the work surface to level out the batter and then smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Place pans in oven on the middle rack, a few inches apart, and bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating pans 180 degrees halfway through. When they are done, the tops of the cakes should be golden brown and spring back lightly when pressed in the center and a cake tester should come out clean. They should have begun to shrink back from the sides of the pan.
- Remove the pans to a cooling rack. Let rest for 5 minutes. Run a small knife or metal spatula around the sides of the pans and invert cakes onto lightly greased racks. Remove parchment paper. Reinvert cakes onto cooling rack. Let cool for at least 1 ½ hours, or until completely cooled.
- For frosting: using an electric mixer, whip softened cream cheese and butter together. Whip in vanilla extract. Add half the eggnog and powdered sugar and mix until blended. Slowly add the remaining eggnog and powdered sugar and mix until combined. (Add additional eggnog to taste.)
- For decorations: line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Melt 1/3 cup of sugar on stovetop over medium heat and immediately pour over aluminum foil. When sugar has hardened, break into pieces with fingers and place atop cake.