Friday, June 8, 2012

Browned Butter Vanilla Bean Cake with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

My Birmingham weekend continued...

Well the whole reason I went to Birmingham the weekend I did was because it was Meghan's birthday and basically I have not been in town the past 2 years for her birthday.  So back in April, I shot her text and said what are you doing for your birthday? Can I come down? And what kind of cake do you want this year?

The cake was ultimately the hardest decision.  We talked about putting a coconut pie in between layers of devils food cake.  Then there was discussion of a lavender cake with chocolate ganache frosting...she drove all over Birmingham looking for lavender one night and I got on the phone calling places in Alexandria.  With no luck finding the lavender, her next choice was a combination of browned butter and brown sugar.

This cake is the ultimate adult vanilla cake:

Browned Butter Vanilla Bean Cake + Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

This is definitely a keeper!  The cake is moist and light.  It has a deep nutty flavor from the browned butter with an almost rich vanilla flavor.  The brown sugar cream cheese frosting is like when you have the perfect shoes to go with a great outfit.  It ties the whole cake together, so that when you take a bite your taste buds basically have a little party.  Give it will note disappoint!

We started Saturday morning, pre-cake. at the farmers market Squash and Zucchini time of year!  It's basically farmer's market touring season.

Then we made the cake, got ready, dropped off the cake at Meghan and Patrick's and headed to the Railroad Park.  

A picnic at the Railroad Park in Birmingham while listening to the symphony = a GREAT night!

The sun setting over Birmingham...

Okay cake time:

Let's melt down the butter...yes 3 sticks...its called a browned butter cake and it is totally worth it.

Seriously though, browned butter basically smells amazingly and makes things just taste better.

Vanilla bean time...thanks for the Christmas present Meghan!  Glad we could use these for your birthday.

Vanilla beans into the bowl.

Butter, sugar...yeah...yum!

In go the eggs...

Wet and dry ingredients...

Yeah, that is brown sugar cream cheese frosting in the making.

This is that point where I always hold my breath...and think please don't fall apart, please don't fall apart.  

Happy Birthday Meghan!

Side view...I love that the specks are both from the vanilla bean and the browned butter.

Browned Butter Cake: (recipe from Food & Wine)
3 sticks unsalted butter (12 ounces), plus more for greasing the pans
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting: (recipe adapted from the Joy the Baker)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 - 8oz block 1/3 fat cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon maple syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 pinch salt
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

1.  Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.

2.  In a medium saucepan, melt the 3 sticks of butter. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until foamy, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the milk solids turn brown and the butter smells nutty, about 4 minutes longer. Scrape the melted butter and browned bits into a large heatproof bowl. Let cool on the counter for 20 minutes then place in the refrigerator to re-harden.

3.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour with the baking powder and salt.

4.  Once butter is slightly hardened remove from the refrigerator, scrape into a large mixing bowl, and let sit on the counter for 10 minutes to come to room temperature. 

5.  Then whisk in the sugar and vanilla seeds until well combined.  Next, beat in the egg yolks followed by the whole eggs, one at a time until completely incorporated. 

6.  Next, whisk in the dry ingredients and milk in 3 alternating additions, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl as necessary, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

7.  Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. 

8.  Cool the cakes in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert them onto a rack to let them cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.

9.  Set one cake layer on a platter and using a serrated knife cut the top of the cake off so that it is flat.

10.  Prepare the frosting:  In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, on low speed, cream together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Then mix in the brown sugar and maple syrup until well combined.  Next mix in the powdered sugar until completely incorporated and the frosting is light and creamy.

11.  Frost the bottom layer of cake with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of frosting.  Then place the top layer on the cake and frost with remaining frosting.  Place in the refrigerator until 30 minutes before serving and Enjoy!

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