Monday, June 2, 2014

Brown Butter Cake wtih Butterscotch Frosting

Tomorrow is Shavuot, a Jewish holiday where we celebrate the gift of the Torah. For reasons not entirely clear, tradition holds that we must eat dairy on Shavuot. Which is a strange custom for a people who are largely lactose-intolerant, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

In the olden days, people ate cheese blintzes on Shavuot and considered it a treat. But that tradition seems to have gone the way of people who are excited for chopped liver. Nowadays, many Jews eat cheesecake on Shavuot. But I've been working on this butterscotch cake for a while, and it is dairy-licious. So, for a new Shavuot tradition, try Brown Butter Butterscotch Frosting. And take a Lactaid first!

Butterscotch Sauce
1/3 cup butter (90g)
1 packed cup brown sugar (225g)
1 cup heavy cream (240ml)
1 tablespoon whisky (15g)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (7g)
pinch of kosher salt

Brown Butter Cake
1 cup milk (240ml)
4 tablespoons butter (60g)
4 eggs
2 cups sugar (400g)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (10g)
2 cups all-purpose flour (190g)
2 teaspoons baking powder (10g)
1/4 teaspoon table salt

Butterscotch Frosting
1 cup butterscotch sauce
1 1/2 cups cold whipping cream (360ml)

Chocolate Butterscotch Balls (optional)
Sliced almonds (optional)

For the Butterscotch Sauce:
Over medium heat, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally. When the mixture begins to pull together like taffy, whisk in 1/4 cup of the cream. Add remaining cream, and bring back to a simmer for another 8-10 minutes, until the mixture is thicker and slightly darkened. Remove from the burner and let the sauce sit for ten minutes to cool. Then add the vanilla, salt and whiskey. Refrigerate until completely cold before using in the frosting.

For the Brown Butter Cake:
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, then continue cooking for about five more minutes. First it will foam, then splutter a bit, then the milk solids will cook out into little brown dots. Before the dots get black, add the milk and heat it until it's almost but not quite boiling. While you're seeing to the milk, beat eggs in the mixer with the whisk attachment on high for two minutes, then add sugar and beat for another two minutes.

Decant the hot milk and butter back in the measuring cup and add the vanilla to it. (Or pour it directly from the pan, and slop half of it down the side of the bowl - up to you.) With the mixer running on low, slowly pour the milk into the eggs. Kick it up the speed a bit to fully incorporate. Whisk salt and baking powder into the flour, then gently beat them into the batter. Use baking spray to grease two 8- or 9-inch pans, or three of the 7-inchers that are the skinny jeans of baking blogs. (Peer pressure made me do it.) Bake at 350 (325 convection) for 20-30 minutes, depending on your pan configuration.

For the Butterscotch Whipped Cream Frosting:
Beat cold butterscotch and cream together for several minutes until thick but not lumpy. This stuff is divine, and you may have a fair amount leftover. Try not to eat it all immediately with a spoon, especially if you are baking for Shavuot, because dairy is probably not your friend!

Use a serrated knife to level your cakes - I always regret skipping this step! Line the edges of your cake plate with waxed paper, and . . .

Nope. Not going to tell you about how the frosting goes between the layers. I feel confident that you've eaten a cake before! I will say that you can smooth out the sides and top by dipping your offset spatula into a glass of hot water, quickly drying it off on a towel, and then running it over the frosting. Rinse and repeat until your OCD impulses dissipate.

You can decorate with almonds or candies. Or just leave it plain and drizzle with the leftover butterscotch sauce. A spiral design is also cool.

Cake adapted from The New Basics, by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.
Frosting adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson.

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