Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Bailey's Crunch Cake

Hi there friends...sorry I have been gone for a while.  Sometimes, you just lose track of everything, especially those weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I have been telling myself for weeks, well you know a couple of months now, that I need to be blogging more.  I mean I have been baking, and I have a baking blog, so why am I not sharing?  Truth is, I kind of feel like I lost my voice, so why share a bunch of nothing.  

So here is a little something...I have been thinking back over the craziness that was this fall.  Being gone three out of five weeks between in October and November is tough on "real life stuff," but also sort of fun.  I mean who wouldn't, even just a little bit, enjoy hanging out at a super nice hotel, getting out of the office, and being in Park City.  When you are at that many meetings, you can also really start to look into yourself, and think about how you are doing your job.  I might have been planning meetings at the same company for nearly 7 1/2 years now, but I know I am not perfect, there is always room for growth, and sometimes you need a little "honesty couch."  (That time where you can sit down with someone who isn't your boss, but has years of experience and can tell you areas for improvement, but knowing you won't get upset.)  I actually need to "schedule" my time for late January.  It's good to have friends and co-workers who can do this though; who you trust that the honesty goes both way.  An unofficial mentor you might say...

Let's not forget that week in New York...working with a view, who could complain. #readytobehomeforawhile

Okay I know that was random, but I needed to get it off my back, sometimes you just need to put a thought out there...  

So, after a crazy fall, I thought I would fly home and see my mom for her birthday weekend.  I never really get to see her around this time, because unfortunately her birthday falls right between Thanksgiving and Christmas...aka a weird time to make another trip to NC.  Since, I was home though and could actually make her a birthday cake I did just that.  I will admit though that I had a cake in mind that I had been wanting to make, so I ran the flavor by her.  This cake's flavor combination is straight from the second restaurant I worked at where they called it a Bailey's Caramel Crunch Cake.  This cake is 3 layers of Devil's Food cake, filled with smooth buttercream and heath pieces and then topped with poured ganache.  It is rich, decadent and don't worry the Bailey's isn't hiding in this cake, it's the star.  Give it a try and Enjoy!

When you are at your mom's house without your stand mixer, and don't want to dirty of the hand-mixer for the cake batter, you take it back old school.  When I started this blog I always creamed together the butter an sugar using a fork.

Wet and dry ready to go.

Now when it comes time for the frosting, I pulled out this awesomely old olive green hand-mixer of my mom's that still works. Granted it doesn't have the power of a hand-mixer made today, but it still gets the job done.

From the top...

From the side...

Bailey's Crunch Cake: (cake recipe adapted from Joy the Baker)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Bailey's Liquor
1/4 cup strong coffee
1 cup buttermilk

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon heavy cream or milk
1 cup heath candy (for between the layers)

8 ounces semisweet
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray the bottom of three 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray and then line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds.

2.  In a large bowl, using a mixer or the back of a fork, cream together the butter and sugars until completely combined, if using a mixer they should be fluffy.  Then whisk in the eggs one at a time, ensuring each is completely mixed in.  Then whisk in the vanilla extract and set aside.

3.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  

4.  Next measure out the Bailey's, coffee and buttermilk into one measuring cup.  Alternating between the flour mixture and the Bailey's mixture, add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and mix until just combined.  Then whisk in about half of the Bailey's mixture just until combined.  Next mix in another 1/3 of the flour mixture until combined, followed by the remaining Bailey's mixture and ending with the remaining flour mixture.  Divide the batter evenly among the the pans.  Bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool to room temperature. 

5.  While the cakes are cooling prepare the frosting and ganache.  For the frosting, using an electric mixer, cream two sticks of unsalted butter until fluffy.  Then mix in about 2 cups of powdered sugar until fully combined.  Next mix in one teaspoon of vanilla extract and one Tablespoon of heavy cream or milk until combined.  Then add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time, mixing until fully combined between each addition until desired consistency is reached.  I ended up using about 4 - 5 cups of powdered sugar for a super creamy and smooth buttercream frosting.

6.  For the ganache, bring cream just to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour over chocolate, and add salt. Let stand for 10 minutes (don't stir - doing so will cool the ganache too quickly, making it grainy).  After 10 minutes, stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny to break up any pieces and emulsify cream and chocolate.  Chocolate will often settle on the bottom or sides of the bowl.  Scrape dish with a rubber spatula to incorporate all of it. Let cool until somewhat thickened, and a consistency not to runny but thick enough to settle on the cake.

7.  Once the cakes have cooled, carefully remove them from the pans, running a sharp knife between the outside of the cake and the inside of the pan if necessary.  Carefully remove them to cooling racks.  Chose your bottom layer, and if it has a hump in the middle, carefully flatten it using a long sharp knife.  Frost the bottom layer with buttercream and sprinkle with heath candy pieces; then continue with the next layer.  (Heath should only go between the layers, not on the top layer.) Once the layers are frosted, pour the ganache carefully over top or you will create a mess like I did.  (Note: If you want to fully cover the cake in ganache, you should place a cardboard cake board under the cake before beginning to frost. When it is time to pour the ganache, place the cake on a wire cooling rack and then on top of a sink or baking sheet with sides to catch the ganache and not have it all over your counter.)  Store cake a room temperature, serve and Enjoy!

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