March 18, 2013

S'more Layer Cake

It is hard to believe that I have been blogging for a year now!  Time flies when you are having fun. :)  Thank you to all of you for your support with this endeavor!  It means so much to me.

Over the last year, people have often asked whether I prefer baking over cooking or vice versa.  I love baking and cooking equally.  Baking is often more of a science whereas cooking is more of an art.   (That's the lawyer in me using "whereas," the archetypal legalism.)  Baking requires precision and patience, and you have greater creative license with cooking.  It's a good yin-yang balance, in my opinion.  I truly have such a great time sharing all of my creations through the blog!

Deb Perelman and me
One of my favorite blogs is Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen.  Deb lives in New York, and she is a self-taught cook who comes up with delicious creations in a 42 square foot kitchen.  Deb cooks and bakes, and that is one of the many reasons that I enjoy visiting her blog.  (In fact, I asked her if she preferred one over the other, and she also enjoys them equally like me!)  She is a warm, chatty writer who comes across as a reader's best friend.

Deb is very talented at how she describes recipes.  She strives to describe recipes like you would tell somebody over the phone.  (It makes me think of calling my mom to ask her to describe how to make something!)  Deb's way of describing recipes is more useful because it is the way most of us speak!

Deb wrote a cookbook and recently visited a very cool Denver bookstore for a cookbook signing.  My good friend Jenn, who happens to be my future business manager once Simply Sweet Justice goes big  (hey, a girl can dream!), and I attended.  As we entered the cookbook signing, we received freshly baked cookies with treat bags full of fun kitchen goodies!

It was a great evening!  Deb answered questions from the audience.  She was so down to earth and had the audience laughing quite often.  Deb doesn't take herself too seriously, and it leads to great writing and good food.  Deb encouraged everyone to step outside of their comfort zone and not to be afraid to try new things in the kitchen.  She certainly made me feel eager and excited to play in the kitchen!

My excitement to dive in and cook from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook was probably akin to the excitement a child has with a new coloring book and markers.  Wait…hold on.  Do kids even color anymore?  Maybe there is just a coloring book app for the iPad.  Anyways, I digress. Needless to say, I was excited to start trying recipes from the cookbook and decided to have my friends over for a "Smitten Kitchen" dinner party.

It was a tough call on what dessert to make, but after running some choices by my friends, the s'more layer cake was the winner.  And, it was to die for.

The cake tasted just like graham crackers, and the filling was a fudgy milk chocolate.  The torched meringue frosting smelled like roasted marshmallows.  I ran out of butane and couldn't torch the top of the cake as much as I would have liked, but it did not affect the taste.  This cake was comfort food.

Bring this yummy campfire favorite to your table soon!

S'more Layer Cake
Yields one 2-layer 8" or 9" cake

For the cake:
16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pans
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 cups (170 grahams) honey graham cracker crumbs, finely processed to a powder
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2/3 (130 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup (190 grams) dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/3 cups milk
2/3 cup sour cream

For the filling:
1/2 lb. (225 grams) milk chocolate, chopped small
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 pinches of salt

For the frosting:
4 large egg whites
1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Butter two round cake pans.  Line with circles of parchment paper, and then butter or coat with a nonstick cooking spray.  This will help make getting the cake out of the pan much easier.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  In a small bowl, mix the milk with the sour cream.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition to ensure all ingredients are mixed.  Add a third of the dry ingredients, then half of the milk-sour cream mixture, another third of the dry ingredients, the remainder of the milk-sour cream mixture, and then the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing between additions until combined.  Scrape the bowl, and mix again if needed.

Divide batter between the prepared cake pans.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, which takes 30 to 35 minutes.  Allow the cakes to cool in the pans on a rack, and then run a knife between the cake edges and pans before inverting each layer onto a rack.  Discard the parchment paper, and flip upright onto a cooling rack.  Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the filling:
Place the chocolate into a heatproof bowl.  Combine the heavy cream and salt in a small saucepan, and bring it to a simmer.  Next, pour over the chocolate, and allow the mixture to sit for a minute before whisking until smooth.  Allow the filling to firm to a spreadable consistency.  (You can speed this up by allowing it to cool in the fridge, but be sure to stir it occasionally so that it thickens evenly.)

Prepare the cake:
Arrange a single lawyer cake on a cake stand or platter.  Spread the chocolate thickly over the bottom layer.  Place the top layer over the bottom layer.

For a neater appearance, you can level the top of the cake using a long serrated knife.  My cakes baked completely evenly, which I attribute to cake baking strips.

For the frosting:
Place the egg whites, granulated sugar, and cream of tartar into the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer.  Set over a saucepan with simmering water, and whisk constantly until the sugar is dissolved, and the whites are warm to the touch, about 3 minutes.  Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on a low speed, gradually increasing to high speed, until stiff,  glossy peaks form, about 4 to 7 minutes.  Add vanilla, and mix until combined.  The frosting must be used immediately.

Frost the cake:
Spread a thin layer of the frosting over the top of the cake and the sides; you want to cover all of the crumbs.  Put the cake in the fridge for about five minutes so that the crumb frosting can set.  Then, generously coat the top and sides with additional frosting.  Put the remaining frosting into a piping bag with your largest round piping tip.  Create big marshmallow-like dollops over the top of the cake.  Remove any flammable objects, and use a kitchen torch on a low setting to lightly brown the dollops to create a toasted marshmallow effect.

Source: Directly adapted from Deb Perelman's Smitten Kitchen Cookbook


  1. That cake looks like so much fun. I know I'd be wearing the "icing" in exactly 2 minutes. ear to ear and loving every minute.

    I think all of us look up to Deb as an example of what passion and hard work can accomplish.

    1. I am so grateful for all the wonderful people, like YOU, that I've met through blogging! :) Maybe Deb will come visit Brisbane!

  2. Happy Birthday Simply Sweet Justice! Also this cake looks amazing!

  3. Happy blog anniversary!

    I'm a big fan of Smitten Kitchen and I will be extremely happy to meet Deb in person.

  4. This cake looks SOOOOOOO delicious! :) Happy blogaversary!!

    What do you do with all you bake?

    1. Hey, lady! I have well-fed friends and co-workers. ;)


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