Category Archives: layer cakes

Friday Favorites: The Last Five Years

Leading up to this site’s five year anniversary earlier this week, I spent some time scrolling through my archives in search of my absolute favorite E2 Bakes recipes. I stand by them all, of course, but there are over 500. I have favorites. There, I said it.

For context, these favorites are the ones I return to time and time again, or those that are simply the best I’ve ever had in various categories. After going through the recipe index, this list was 50 recipes long! I could absolutely write a little blurb about each of them, but I didn’t want to subject you or myself to that. I’ve painstakingly pared it down to ten twelve fifteen. So here they are: fifteen recipes to encompass the last five years.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsCocoa Brownies

Of all the brownie recipes I’ve made I’m the last five years, these are my favorites. Even with a cocoa base, they’re fudgy as can be. Oh, and they’re easy too—you can mix the batter right in the pot you use to melt the butter, sugar and cocoa! These were my first post (and my 544th!), and I can guarantee you that I’ll still be obsessed with them when I hit a thousand posts and beyond.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsOvernight Yeast-Raised Doughnuts
I grew up near a truly excellent doughnut shop, and have been surprisingly disappointed in the quality of doughnuts in New York City. (For your safety and mine, let’s never discuss The Doughnut Plant.) I’ve found one (!) doughnut that I like in thirteen years of residency. One! That’s unacceptable. Long story short, I started making my own yeast-raised doughnuts and never looked back. These are legitimately the best doughnuts I’ve ever had. Ever. In my life. And I know, because I have used this recipe over and over to make twists and cinnamon roll doughnuts and…again, they are *the* best doughnuts I’ve ever had in my life.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsBanana Pudding Cookies

These cookies were my first baking Everest. Inspired by the phenomenal Banana Pudding Pudgies at Evelyn’s Kitchen in East Harlem, these took me a year to perfect, but it was entirely worth it. These soft, chewy cookies are beyond delicious, and they taste *exactly* like banana pudding. Exactly.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsBrown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Cookie cake is probably one of my top five favorite desserts ever. I mean, who wouldn’t love a giant, sliceable soft-centered cookie with a buttercream border? It’s the dream.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsSour Cream Waffles

These are the best waffles I’ve ever had. Period. Every time I have leftover egg whites or sour cream, these are the first things that get made. This means I have an ample freezer stash for waffle emergencies, of which there are many. Many many many.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsNeapolitan Cake

Confession: I have never worked with fondant and am actually kind of afraid of it.

Another Confession: I don’t quite get the obsession with super tall cakes with an absurd amount of buttercream and drips and all that. Just give me the cake! I don’t need all the stuff.

All that said, this Neapolitan Cake is probably as close as I’ll get to any intricate layer cakes. Checkerboard inside, heavily piped outside, and not a drop of food coloring—that strawberry pink is the real deal. This one is super fun to make, even if it is a labor of love.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsPretzel Shortbread

Last fall, I heard about Lost Bread Co.’s pretzel shortbread, and instead of being a normal person and ordering some, I made my own. That sort of stubbornness is kind of my thing, and how I got into this whole baking racket in the first place! Made with crushed up pretzels in the dough and then pretzeled themselves (much easier than it sounds), these little cookies are salty, sweet and fabulous, just like me.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsWedding Cake Trilogy {I, II & III}

There is no single recipe for this wedding cake. Instead, it was made with my go-to vanilla cake, filled with alternating mocha and caramel puddings, and frosted with creamy Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Oh yeah, and it was served to hundreds at the Central Park Boat House back when we used to go do things inside together and the idea of attending a wedding didn’t give me heart palpitations. But for real, this is one of the proudest accomplishments of my baking journey, and I was honored to have the opportunity.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsSweet Cherry Rhubarb Galette

While Cocoa Brownies were the first recipe to appear on this site, a tiny Sweet Cherry Rhubarb Galette was the first baked good to be pictured. Three years later, I still loved it and posted the recipe. Fast forward two more years and I’m looking forward to spring so I can make this simple sweet-tart galette again!
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsHot Fudge

This is a warning that if you start making your own Hot Fudge, you will be ruined for all other hot fudges forever. This stuff is dark and glossy and sooo much better than anything you’ll find in stores.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsPumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pies

Making these Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pies was the first instance in which I didn’t feel like a food blogging impostor. I knew what I wanted, I knew how to make it, I knew how I wanted it to look, and then I freaking did it. Five years later, I’m still over the moon for these soft pumpkin oatmeal cookies and their perfect marshmallow filling. Little Debbie who?

(If pumpkin isn’t your thing, I’ve got a regular version too.)
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsSlow-Roasted Pulled Pork

I get so overwhelmed by holiday baking every year that I’ve taken to mostly posting weeknight meals every January. I’ve never publicized it this way, but I personally refer to this time of the blogging year as “Savory January,” because by that point, I can barely stand to look at dessert. There are lots of meals in my archives (scroll to the Savory section at the bottom!), but this Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork is probably my favorite. It’s perfectly seasoned throughout, and where some slow cooker pulled porks get soggy, this version has crispy cracklings and is moist but never wet. Seriously, it’s the best pulled pork I’ve ever had. And while it takes time and preparation, it’s shockingly easy and makes enough to freeze for later. You know, for when you feel an enchilada craving coming on.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsButtermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

Chocolate…gravy?! You better believe it. My grandma made this classic southern combo for my sisters and me every chance she got. Super flaky, savory biscuits and sweet chocolate gravy are a match made in breakfast heaven.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsToasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

If you had told me five years ago that I’d have a startling number of vegan, gluten-free recipes on this site, I wouldn’t have believed you. I previously saw leaving out dairy, eggs and flour as near-impossible limitations, but now I look forward to the challenge of developing these recipes…and the dessert. Especially when it’s s’mores made with these delicious Toasted Oat Graham Crackers.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsChocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}

This is one of the easiest pie recipes on this site, and also maybe ever…? It’s deeply chocolaty with a smooth, light texture and an Oreo crust—oh, and it’s no bake. So, like, best pie ever? You tell me.

What are your favorite E2 Bakes recipes? Tell me in the comments or on social media! I want to know what you love to bake!Friday Favorites: The Last Five Years

How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

How to Make Mini Layer CakesI have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to celebrate this year. Does it feel like the world is crashing down around us and everything is at least vaguely scary? Sure. Is there still stuff to celebrate? You know it.

I mean, all of us are going to have pandemic birthdays this year. Every last dang one. Birthday parties are inadvisable, but cake? That’s non-negotiable. If we can’t have cake in times of both joy and crisis, then what on earth are we even doing here?!How to Make Mini Layer CakesIn that spirit, today’s post is not actually a recipe, but instead is all about how to make a layer cake fit for a pandemic…er, small group. Sure, you could make a single layer of cake for any occasion you have coming up, but some things require a cake that’s stacked up tall, even if it’s on the miniature side. I’ve been making Mini Layer Cakes for years, for everything from birthdays to baby showers to wedding cake practice. It’s super fun and a great way to brighten someone’s day (or your own!) in these rough times.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer Cakes

How Big are Mini Layer Cakes?

The cakes pictured are 4 inches in diameter and 2.5 and 2.75 inches tall, respectively.How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

How Many People Can Mini Layer Cakes Feed?

Well, it depends. I think of these as being 4-6 servings, but could go up to eight in a pinch. I’m sure some of you are looking at these and thinking they’d only feed two–I suppose it all depends on exactly how much cake you want to eat in one go. Use your judgment.How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

What Flavors are Best for Mini Layer Cakes?

The answer here is pretty much anything your heart desires. The cakes pictured are Vanilla Cake + Nutella Buttercream and Chocolate Cake + Strawberry Buttercream; I chose these flavors based solely on what I had on hand.

The general rule for my Mini Layer Cakes is to make roughly half the recipe of any normal 9-inch layer cake. If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas off the top of my head:

Funfetti cake + vanilla buttercream
red velvet cake + cream cheese frosting
carrot cake (without nuts/fruit) + cream cheese frosting
white cake + seasonal fruit or jam + whipped cream frosting
vanilla cake with a little almond extract + mocha buttercream
-vanilla cake + key lime curd + whipped cream frosting
-vanilla cake + lemon syrup + lazy lemon curd + vanilla buttercream with lemon zest
chocolate cake + Oreo Buttercream
peanut butter cake + chocolate frosting
Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}! <—Yes, it works!How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

Things You Need to Make a Mini Layer Cake

-a single 9-inch layer of cake
-a half-batch of buttercream
-filling of choice, if not using buttercream
-a serving plate or cardboard round
-a ruler
a 4-inch ring cutter
-a serrated knife for trimming
-an offset icing knife

First things first, you’ve got to have the supplies. This list is pretty similar to what I use for regular layer cakes with a few exceptions. To start, you’ll need one 9-inch layer of cake and a small batch of buttercream…or roughly a half the quantity of most layer cake recipes. I understand that not all cake recipes halve easily (splitting eggs!), so I’ve included halved versions of my vanilla and chocolate cakes at the end of the post.How to Make Mini Layer CakesThe major specialty item here is a 4-inch ring for cutting small layers. Can you just bake your cake in 4-inch pans? Sure, and I have on many occasions, but they tend to produce dramatically domed cakes, and frankly, you’re never going to get as much use out of those pans as you think you will. As a person who has nearly every piece of kitchen equipment anyone could ever need, please trust me on this. It is much easier to bake a single larger layer of cake and then cut it into smaller ones.

With a 4-inch cutter, you’ll be able to get two small layers out of a single 9-inch round layer. If you measure/have a keener eye than I do, you can bake a 9-inch square layer and get four small layers out of it. That way, you can make two mini cakes at once or freeze two of the layers for another occasion. Either way, you’ll have leftover cake scraps, but I don’t see that as a problem.

Don’t have or want a 4-inch ring? Find a 4-inch circular object, trace it onto parchment, then cut out the circle and use it as a stencil.

How to Assemble a Mini Layer Cake

Mini Layer Cake assembly isn’t rocket science, but has its challenges. There is a lot of measuring and evening out of things, but rest assured that you’ll get the hang of it quickly.How to Make Mini Layer CakesStart by using your cutter to cut two small layers out of your larger layer. Make sure that the cutter is as close to the edge of the larger layer as possible, so as to make room for a complete second layer. <—This is important.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesUse your ruler to measure your layers for height. There is a good chance your layers will have an incline, as cakes tend to dome a bit as they bake. Grab your serrated knife and even out the top of one layer. Make sure it’s even (or very close) and measure it again—this how tall you want your other layer to be. Repeat that process to even out that second layer, until they’re identical in height (or very close). Mine are all about an inch tall.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesNext up, stacking. Swipe a tiny bit of buttercream on your plate or cardboard round, then place one of your layers on top. If you’re a messy froster like me, tuck bits of parchment under the cake all the way around for clean edges. Frost the top of your layer, then stack the second layer on top and press down lightly to adhere.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesFrom here, frost as normal. For me, that means a very light crumb coat (thin layer of buttercream), a 20 minute chill, then a thicker layer of buttercream, piping and decor.

Keep in mind that Mini Layer Cakes are smaller and lighter-weight than what most of us are used to, and therefore cannot take as much physical pressure as a larger cake, particularly when frosting around the sides. Be gentle with the cake and with yourself, and remember that there is no shame in having to move layers back into place and frost over flaws. Buttercream is a surprisingly forgiving medium.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesAt this point you can serve your cake. I, however, like to let mine sit for an hour or two ahead of serving, just to let everything adhere nicely. This isn’t strictly necessary, but I find it makes slicing easier and prettier. If you’re refrigerating your cake, make sure to let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before serving.How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer Cakes

How to Transport a Mini Layer Cake

If you’re making a Mini Layer Cake (or any layer cake), chances are you have to take it to a celebrant or they have to pick it up. In more normal times, I box and transport cakes all over NYC. The most important thing in this process is to make sure your cake fits the box beforehand—this is why I have a ruler in my kitchen. My cake boxes are 3-inches tall, so the cardboard round, both layers of cake and any filling and frosting need to be shorter than that when stacked.How to Make Mini Layer CakesOther important things? Keep your box as level as possible. I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping them level while walking and riding in cars and on the subway. It’s just a matter of remembering that pretty much everything (your body, a car seat, etc.) has a natural slope, and then carrying/positioning your box in a way to counterbalance that. Also, remember that cold cakes are easier to transport. When delivering cakes, I refrigerate them as soon as I’m done assembling, and then let them come back to room temp while en route to wherever I’m going.

Please know that I have shown up a few times with cakes that did not look the way they did when I left the house. This is a hazard of the job–rest assured that ugly cake is still delicious. If you make somebody a cake and they don’t like it because it’s a little disheveled, take it back. You don’t need that negativity.

And on that note, if you are inspired to make a Mini Layer Cake or two and need a place for them to go, I’m gladly accepting donations.How to Make Mini Layer Cakes
Are there any Mini Layer Cake tutorials you’d like to see? Thinking of doing one for tiered cakes (wedding cake). Let me know what you think in the comments.How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

Vanilla Cake {Half Recipe}
makes 1 9-inch layer or enough for 1 mini layer cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 batch Nutella Buttercream or other buttercream

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9-inch round or square pan. Line the bottom with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar and light brown sugar. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating completely after each addition. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the buttermilk. Add remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining buttermilk. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake cakes 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in its pan for fifteen minutes. Run a small thin knife around the edge of the pans and invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off and discard parchment.

For a Mini Layer Cake, follow instructions detailed in the post above. Fill and frost with Nutella Buttercream or other buttercream.

Chocolate Cake {Half Recipe}
makes 1 9-inch layer or enough for 1 mini layer cake

3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons espresso granules (optional, but recommended)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup boiling water
1 batch Strawberry Buttercream or other buttercream

Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease a 9-inch round or square pan. Line the bottom with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso granules, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and egg, followed by vanilla and buttermilk. Whisk in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the boiling water. Whisk in remaining dry ingredients, followed by remaining boiling water.

Pour batter into the pans. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cake cool in pan for fifteen minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature. Peel off and discard parchment.

For a Mini Layer Cake, follow instructions detailed in the post above. Fill and frost with Strawberry Buttercream or other buttercream.

How to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer CakesHow to Make Mini Layer Cakes

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}If you’re wondering where the cherries and chocolate cake are in this Black Forest Cake, well, this isn’t your average Black Forest Cake.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Ohhh no. This is my take on a hometown favorite: Black Forest Cake from Swiss Pastry Shop in Fort Worth, Texas. My mom and grandmother used to take my sister and me to lunch at Swiss Pastry Shop several times a year, and while the sausages and German potato salad were delicious, we were all really in it for the cake. In fact, I think most people who go to lunch at Swiss Pastry Shop are in it for the cake.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}There’s a reason the citizens of Fort Worth are so in love with this cake—it’s absurdly good, and unique for that part of the world. Made by layering crisp almond dacquoise (meringue with nuts) and whipped cream, and coated with thin chocolate sprinkles and shaved dark chocolate, this cake is hardly a cake at all. It’s pure bliss! Cold, crisp, super-light, creamy, nutty, chocolaty, naturally gluten-free bliss.

Full disclosure: it’s probably my all-time favorite dessert.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}I’ve thought for years that Swiss Pastry Shop’s Black Forest Cake was unique to them—I mean, I’ve never seen or heard of it anywhere else. Turns out, it’s actually a Swedish cake and unrelated to the cherry-chocolate version, only sharing a name (Schwarzvaldtårta). Who knew?!

(Cambridge Cowgirl and Wikipedia. They knew.)Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Now, I’m not going to pretend that this is a carbon copy of Swiss Pastry Shop’s cake—I cannot figure out how they get their dacquoise so thick!—but it tastes *exactly* right and hit the spot on my birthday a couple weeks ago. I made a teeny-tiny version on a whim, because if I had to turn 35 in a pandemic, there was *going* to be excellent cake. And, well, it just doesn’t get much more excellent than Black Forest Cake.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}I had no plans to put it on the blog (two home bakers have already posted their own versions), but other Black Forest Cake-deprived friends kept asking for it, so I tested and re-tested six times and here we are. Until the day that Swiss Pastry Shop figures out a way to ship, anyway.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake requires some skill and a time commitment, but is not actually difficult to make. Here are some tips for success.

-Don’t make this on a humid day and keep all your equipment squeaky clean. Whipped egg whites are temperamental.
-For the best flavor and texture in your almond dacquoise, grind your own raw almonds. I tested this recipe with both store bought almond meal and almond flour, and while they both work, they don’t hold a candle to fresh ground almonds.
-You don’t have to trim the layers after baking, but it makes them easier to stack and results in a more streamlined finished product.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}
-Use good chocolate sprinkles. The stuff in the ice cream topping section will work, but India Tree Chocolate Vermicelli or hagelslag are the very best. I promise you’ll find ways to use up the leftovers.
-Don’t wait to serve this cake—day-of is ideal. As with many whipped egg white-based things, the dacquoise will weep and degrade over time. If you have leftovers, I have included freezing instructions at the end of the recipe.
-If you want to make a tiny cake, halve the recipe and spread the dacquoise in two 4-inch circles before baking. Alternatively, make one 8-inch layer, then use a 4-inch ring to cut out two layers. Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Whew! Okay, I think that’s all. This one was a labor of love, y’all. Not for yours or mine, but for the love of cake. Really excellent cake.Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}
inspired by Fort Worth’s Swiss Pastry Shop
makes one 8-inch cake

Almond Dacquoise:
1 1/4 cups whole raw almonds*
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar (granulated sugar will work)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 large egg whites, room temperature
pinch of salt

Whipped Cream:
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream, very cold
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

For assembly:
1/3-1/2 cup high-quality chocolate sprinkles (hagelslag)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, shaved or finely chopped
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Read the recipe all the way through before beginning. There is a large time commitment (mostly hands-off).

Egg whites will not whip properly if they are not treated well. Do not attempt this on a humid day. Before beginning, please ensure that all equipment used in this recipe is very clean and dry. I like to wipe down the bowl(s), whisk, and mixer attachments with vinegar before starting the recipe. There is no way to salvage this recipe if the egg whites are contaminated with oil, yolk, or even water.

Preheat oven to 250F. Using an 8-inch round pan as a template, use a pencil (or other writing implement) to trace 8-inch circles onto two pieces of parchment. Turn parchment pieces over (pencil-side down) and place on two rimmed baking sheets. Set aside.

Make the almond dacquoise. Place almonds in a food processor and process for 30-45 seconds, until finely ground. Do not over-process (it could veer toward almond butter). Measure out 1 1/2 cups of your homemade almond meal. Stir in the cornstarch. Set aside.

Stir together sugar and cream of tartar. Set aside.

Combine egg whites and salt in a very clean, dry mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer fitted with a very clean, dry whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until very foamy—the whisk should be leaving faint tracks. Turn speed up to medium-high. With the mixer running, add sugar to egg whites 3-4 teaspoons at a time. This will take a few minutes. Mixture should start to look glossy and begin stiffening up. Turn mixer speed up to high and beat continuously until stiff peaks form, about 1-2 minutes.

Add half the almond meal to the egg whites and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to gently fold it in. Repeat with the remaining almond meal.

Divide mixture into the circles on the two prepared pans (you may pipe if desired). Use an offset spatula to gently spread the mixture to the drawn circle edges.

Bake dacquoise for 1 1/2 hours. It will puff and spread. Do not open the oven at any time.

Turn off oven, leaving the dacquoise inside for another 1 1/2 hours (or up to overnight). Remove layers from oven and let cool completely. At this point, layers may be gently, tightly wrapped in plastic and stored in a dry place for a few days.

To trim layers, gently place an 8-inch round cake pan on top of one layer. Use a sharp knife to slice off edges—the top will fall slightly during this process, so don’t be alarmed. Repeat with remaining layer.

Make the whipped cream. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form.

Assemble the cake. Place one layer of dacquoise on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread a thick layer of whipped cream over it and then gently place the second layer of dacquoise on top. “Frost” cake on the top and sides with remaining whipped cream (you may have some leftover). Refrigerate cake for 15 minutes.

Line a surface with a piece of parchment and place the cake (on stand) on top. Use your hand to gently apply chocolate sprinkles to the sides of the cake. Scatter shaved/chopped chocolate over the top of the cake. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top.

Refrigerate cake for a couple of hours before slicing and serving. Slices will not be perfectly clean. Holding the exposed edge with a bench scraper (or a clean hand) seems to help.

Cake may be kept in the refrigerator for up to a day. The dacquoise will deteriorate over time.

Leftover cake may be sliced, placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet and frozen. Triple-wrap frozen slices with plastic wrap and freeze for up to a month.

Note:

You may use 1 1/2 cups store bought almond meal or almond flour in place of the whole raw almonds. Stir the cornstarch into it and proceed from “Stir together sugar and cream of tartar.”

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeWhen you make as many layer cakes as I do, it’s inevitable that someone will ask you to make a gluten-free or vegan one, or one that is both of those things. I used to fear these requests and turn them down across the board, but as time has gone on, I’ve gained confidence, learned new skills, and befriended my NYC ride-or-die, VJ, who just so happens to be a gluten-free vegan. I’m not saying I’m fearless now, but I am saying that I make a hell of a Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeIt all started with The Minimalist Baker’s genius 1-Bowl Vegan Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake, which I made for VJ’s birthday last winter. That recipe’s major appeal is that it’s ridiculously easy—it doesn’t require making flax eggs or using a complicated gluten-free flour blend, instead relying on blanched almond flour, a mix of potato starch and cornstarch, unsweetened applesauce and leaveners. The results are soft, moist, and delicious. I would have been content to only make that cake for my gluten-free vegan friends forever…but then another friend requested a chocolate version for their birthday last May. And so, here we are.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeThis triple-layered chocolate masterpiece is gluten-free and vegan, yes, but also moist and tender and chocolaty AF—exactly what you want in a layer cake, gluten-free and vegan or not. I used Dana’s (The Minimalist Baker) Vanilla Cake formula as a starting place for the batter, relying on almond flour and potato starch for structure, and swapping in natural unsweetened cocoa powder instead of cornstarch. I’ve traded the applesauce for pure pumpkin purée, mostly because I almost always have a can of pumpkin and almost never have applesauce. The remaining ingredients are the usual baking powder and soda, granulated sugar, salt, and a mixture of almond milk and vinegar, which acts as a vegan buttermilk swap. I also add a little granulated espresso to accentuate the chocolate flavor.

You’ll notice that there is no added fat in the cake batter—this is because there is plenty in the blanched almond flour. In combination with the moisture from the pumpkin and soured almond milk, this cake always turns out soft and springy.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeIf you’re looking at this list of ingredients and wondering where to find them, the answer is almost any well-stocked grocery store. Blanched almond flour is available at Trader Joe’s and Costco, as well as my local supermarket. Potato starch is usually in the specialty flours section or the Kosher foods aisle.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeAs for the swoopy, pipeable Vegan Chocolate Buttercream…well, first of all, good luck not just eating it straight from the bowl. It’s as flavorful and creamy as traditional chocolate buttercream, thanks to a base of equal parts vegan butter and coconut oil-based shortening, along cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeI recommend using shortening in vegan buttercream for the textural magic it works in the absence of dairy butter. Shortening is a polarizing ingredient, to be sure, but it’s what makes this butterless buttercream so incredibly luxurious and pipeable. I am a fan of Nutiva’s coconut oil formula, but I’ve used regular Crisco in a pinch with good results. If you are anti-shortening, feel free to swap in an equal amount of vegan butter—I’ve been using Miyoko’s lately and totally love it. With an all-vegan-butter frosting, your results may be a little less fluffy than mine, but I promise they will still be delicious. We’re talking about chocolate frosting here—how could it be anything but wonderful?!Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeThis buttercream recipe makes a lot—enough to fill and frost a cake and then pipe it to the gills! I have had no problem finding things to do with any leftovers (vegan buttercream candies, anyone?), but if you’d like to do a naked cake or have less frosting around, feel free to halve the ingredients.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeBut really, is there such a thing as too much chocolate frosting on a chocolate cake? I don’t think so, especially on one like this that can feed nearly all my friends! This vegan, gluten-free dessert is as delicious and beautiful as it is inclusive. Heck, that in itself is almost enough reason to make one.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake
adapted from The Minimalist Baker

makes one 3-layer 9-inch round cake

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
~2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons potato starch
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon granulated espresso
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Pour apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add almond milk until liquid reaches the 2 cup mark. Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until curdled. Stir in pumpkin purée and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together blanched almond flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, granulated espresso, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add liquid ingredients in two installments, whisking until combined.

Divide batter among prepared pans and smooth with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap each pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Transfer to the oven and bake 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out with only a few crumbs.

Let layers cool completely in their pans on cooling racks. Run a thin, flexible knife around their edges before inverting to release. Fill and frost as desired with Vegan Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below).

Frosted cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days and refrigerated for up to 4. Unfrosted layers may be triple-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream
makes enough for a 3-layer 9-inch round cake with piping

4 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
8 ounces (1 cup) vegan butter, room temperature (I like Miyoko’s)
8 ounces (1 cup) shortening, room temperature (I like Nutiva)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine confectioners sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat vegan butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Mix in dry ingredients in three installments, mixing until combined and fluffy. Mix in vanilla.

Use to frost layer cakes, as a sandwich cookie filling, or to make vegan buttercream candies.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

Peanut Butter Marble Cake

Peanut Butter Marble CakeToday is my 34th birthday!Peanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakeIt’s been a really fun one so far: my little sister is visiting, I made this Sicilian pizza, went to dinner and to see Golden Girls Live! with a bunch of friends, did some vintage shopping, and saw Rocketman last night. Pretty great, right?!Peanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakeNow it’s time to talk birthday cake. I make many (many many many) throughout the year, but this one is mine: Peanut Butter Marble Cake, y’all!Peanut Butter Marble CakeWe’re talking thick layers made with my favorite peanut butter batter and swirled with dark chocolate a la Marble Bundt Cake. Yesssss.Peanut Butter Marble CakeThe cake is filled and frosted with a silky Chocolate-Peanut Butter Buttercream. This stuff is sweet-salty magic and it swoops like a dream!Peanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakeAll that, and I didn’t even mention all the chopped peanut butter cups in the middle! There are even more on top 😊 Peanut Butter Marble CakeIt’s a total showstopper—the ultimate chocolate-peanut butter cake, as far as I’m concerned.Peanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakeI can’t think of a more delicious way to start my 35th trip around the sun 🎉 Peanut Butter Marble Cake

Peanut Butter Marble Cake
makes one 2-layer 9-inch round layer cake

Cake Batter:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cup creamy-style peanut butter*
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
4 ounces dark chocolate

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Buttercream:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup creamy-style peanut butter
3 cups confectioners sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy cream

For assembly:
12 miniature peanut butter cups + more for topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and peanut butter until combined and fluffy. Beat in light brown and granulated sugars. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Mix in half the dry ingredients followed by half the buttermilk. Add remaining dry ingredients, followed by remaining buttermilk. Set aside.

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring in between, until melted. This may also be done in a double boiler.

Transfer 1 1/2 cups of batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate. Use a fork and/or silicone spatula to combine the two.

Divide remaining peanut butter batter among prepared pans. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Dollop chocolate batter over the tops and use a thin knife or skewer to lightly marble it in. Bake 40-42 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes. Run a thin, flexible knife around the edges. Invert cakes onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Make buttercream. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in peanut butter. Add in confectioner’s sugar in two installments, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla, followed by heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Place 12 miniature peanut butter cups on a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to cut them into small pieces (I like to cut them into eighths).

Use a serrated knife to even out the tops of the cake layers. Place one cut-side-up on a serving plate or cake stand. Top with a thin layer of buttercream, followed by chopped peanut butter cups. Top with the second layer cut-side-down. Frost and decorate cake. Garnish with more peanut butter cups, if desired.

Slice and serve. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five. If storing in the refrigerator, let cake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Cake is best served at room temperature.Peanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble CakePeanut Butter Marble Cake