Whipped Cream Layer Cake

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes one 9 inch 23 cm ) 2-layer cake, about

    12

    servings

Appears in

I’ve always been fascinated by this cake recipe, which derives some of its tenderness and lightness from the butterfat and air in whipped cream. One of the times I was fortunate to visit James Beard in the mid-1970s, he recounted that someone had just submitted a recipe to a cake contest he was judging that was “little more than some sweetened whipped cream, a couple of eggs, and some flour.” He had loved the cake, but felt it lacked complexity (of preparation) and therefore could not be a prize-winning recipe. Well, I’m crazy about simplicity of preparation and I think this cake is a winner, hands down. It’s often finished with plain sweetened whipped cream, which you can certainly do, but the caramel whipped cream here is a perfect counterpoint to the sweet tenderness of the cake.

Ingredients

Whipped Cream Cake Batter

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
  • cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs

Caramel Whipped Cream for Filling and Finishing

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 3 cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Two 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pans, 2 inches (5 cm) deep, buttered, and the bottoms lined with disks of parchment or buttered wax paper cut to fit

Method

  1. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F (180°C).
  2. For the cake batter, combine the flour, ¾ cup of the sugar, the baking powder, and salt in a bowl and stir well to mix.
  3. Put the cream and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk by hand until thickened and stiff. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Whisk in the remaining ¾ cup sugar. Whisk in the flour mixture in 3 separate additions, whisking smooth after each addition.
  4. Divide the batter between the 2 prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake the layers until they are well risen, deep golden, and firm in the center when pressed with a fingertip, 30 to 35 minutes.
  5. Cool the layers in the pans on racks for 5 minutes, unmold them, and cool them right side up on the racks.
  6. While the layers are baking, prepare the caramel whipped cream. Combine the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan and stir well to mix. Put ½ cup of the cream in a second small saucepan. Place the first pan on medium heat and cook undisturbed until the sugar begins to melt and caramelize—you’ll see a few wisps of smoke coming out of the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally so that the sugar melts and caramelizes evenly. Remove it from the heat when the caramel is still very pale (the sugar will continue to darken off the heat). Slide the pan with the cream onto the burner. As soon as the cream has some bubbles around the edge, add it to the caramel at arm’s length, averting your face—the caramel will boil up and may splatter out of the pan. Pour the diluted caramel into a medium bowl and cool it to room temperature. Stir in the remaining cups cream and the vanilla and chill until you are ready to finish the cake (this can be made the day before).
  7. To finish the cake, whip the cream mixture by hand or with an electric mixer until it holds a firm peak. Place one of the cake layers on a cake cardboard or platter and spread it with a little less than half the whipped cream. Invert the second layer onto the cream and spread the outside of the cake with the remaining whipped cream, swirling it with the point of the spatula.

Serving

Serve the cake at the table, wiping the knife with a damp cloth between cuts to keep from tracking crumbs onto the outside of the cake.

Storage

Cover leftovers with plastic wrap and refrigerate or the whipped cream will melt.

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