M&Ms Surprise Cake

M&Ms Surprise CakeI posted pictures of a big M&Ms-stuffed chocolate cake on my social media last week and y’all went crazy for it!M&Ms Surprise CakeI get it—chocolate cake + buttercream + M&Ms inside + more M&Ms on top = MAGIC.M&Ms Surprise CakeThat original cake was for a friend and not intended for the blog, but given the response, I thought you might like to know how to make your own!M&Ms Surprise CakeFirst things first. You’re going to need four 9-inch round layers of chocolate cake. This one is a super easy no-mixer recipe that makes four soft, moist, perfect layers. You may recognize this recipe from my my Chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Buttercream—it’s exactly the same except that I scaled it up by 50%.M&Ms Surprise CakePlace one of the layers on a serving plate or your favorite of all your cakestands. Spread a little frosting on top.M&Ms Surprise CakeTake two of the layers and punch out holes in the centers. I use a 6-inch ring for this, but you can use a wide-mouthed glass or even just a paring knife and a circle of parchment. Layer those on top of that bottom round, frosting between and on top.M&Ms Surprise CakeAt this point, you’ll have a three layer cake with a hole in it. That’s where the surprise M&Ms are going to go ❤Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the “walls.” This will help keep the moist cake from melting the color off the M&Ms too quickly. And speaking of M&Ms…M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise Cake…pour in almost 2 cups of them ❤ ❤ ❤M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakePlace your last intact layer of cake on top, effectively hiding all that surprise candy. Frost the cake. For a sort-of photo tutorial on that, see last week’s Cinnamon Buttercream post.M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakeI decorated the top with even more M&Ms and used the last of the frosting to pipe a border. The dollops are all different sizes and I love it!M&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise CakeM&Ms Surprise Cake

Gather all your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers—really, anyone will do. Get them all around the table so they can see this amazing thing you’ve made in all it’s rainbow candy avalanche glory. This cake is delicious—with that much chocolate and butter, it has to be—but the magic is in the presentation.M&Ms Surprise CakeThen again, I was alone when I sliced this sucker open and it was still pretty damn magical. But I also took 200+ photos of it for you, so I suppose you were practically there.M&Ms Surprise Cake

M&Ms Surprise Cake
makes 1 large 9-inch round cake

Cake:
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup + 2 Tbsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups strong, hot coffee

Chocolate Buttercream:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
5 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2-2/3 cup heavy cream

For Assembly:
1 3/4 cups M&Ms candy, plus more for decoration

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease 4 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

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

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and eggs, followed by vanilla, buttermilk, and coffee. Whisk in dry ingredients in three installments, just until combined. Divide batter evenly among the pans. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in pans for ten minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edges. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and allow to cool to room temperature.

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

Assemble cake. Place one round on a serving plate and top with a layer of frosting. Set aside.

Use a 4-6 inch cutter (or a wide-mouthed cup or jar) to cut the centers out of two layers. Set centers aside for another use. Place one cut-out layer on the bottom layer and top with a layer of frosting. Place the other cut-out layer on top and frost. Coat the inside of the hole with a thin layer of frosting.

Fill the hole in the cake layers with M&Ms. Top with the last (fully-intact) layer of cake. Frost cake as desired. Decorate with more M&Ms, as desired.

Layer cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week. M&Ms may lose their color over long periods of time.M&Ms Surprise Cake

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Vanilla Layer Cake

 This blog hit fifty posts last week which, considering that I only started blogging in October, is pretty crazy. Looking through my Recipe Index, I have a ton of cookie recipes, three pies, a bunch of different breakfast items and savory things, but only one measly cake recipe. Granted, it’s a Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcake recipe that is really delicious, but how is it possibly the only one?!

See, I make a lot of cake. Like, a minimum of five every month for the various birthdays and celebrations that all my friends (and their friends) have. I’ve made everything from chocolate biscuit cake to chocolate peanut butter cake to the vegan carrot cupcakes I baked last night. But the one that everyone really loves? The one that people get excited about when I walk in the room with a white cardboard cake box? It’s this Vanilla Layer Cake. 

This cake has been through many iterations over the last two years as I learned more about baking chemistry and made adjustments. All of them were delicious, but this is the best by far. It’s moist and buttery, a little bit dense (but not pound cake-dense), and has a prominent vanilla flavor. 

The cake is made with room temperature butter and eggs so that it stays extra rich. Buttermilk keeps everything moist. The dry ingredients involve a combination of all-purpose flour and cornstarch to mimic cake flour’s lightness and tenderness. Light brown sugar is used in addition to granulated sugar for a little extra moisture and complexity of flavor. And there is plenty of pure vanilla extract so that this cake is undoubtably vanilla. The batter is simple to put together, and will be thick and beautiful (or at least, I think it is). It’s divided into two pans and baked until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
      The frosting is made while the cake layers are cooling. It’s a simple vanilla buttercream, and will come together in just a few minutes. Beat room temperature butter and confectioner’s sugar together until combined. Add in vanilla and salt, followed by a few tablespoons of heavy cream. You may use whole milk or half-and-half in place of the heavy cream, but the frosting won’t be nearly as rich and creamy. You see, the cream whips within the buttercream and makes it so light and fluffy, it’s ridiculous. Don’t skip it! Fill and frost the layers to your preference, and sit back while your friends and family ooh and ahh!

This Vanilla Layer Cake is anything but plain vanilla! Between the buttery, rich cake, and the fluffy, gorgeous frosting (not to mention the vanilla flavor!), it’s a total showstopper! 

 
Vanilla Layer Cake
makes 1 two-layer 9″ round cake*

To Grease the Pans:
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour*
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk*, room temperature

Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3-5 tablespoons heavy cream
sprinkles or decorative sugar, if desired

Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together greasing mixture ingredients. Use a pastry brush to paint mixture onto the entire insides of two 9-inch round cake pans. 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 and egg yolk one at a time, beating completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla and buttermilk. Add dry ingredients in three installments, beating just until combined. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Tap each full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake cakes 32-37 minutes, rotating top to bottom and back to front at the halfway point. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for fifteen minutes. Run a small thin knife around the edges of the pans and invert the cakes onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached.

Transfer one layer of the cake to a cake stand or plate. Frost and layer cooled cakes. Top with sprinkles or decorative sugar immediately after frosting, if desired.

Layer cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Notes:

1. This recipe can also be made into 24 cupcakes. Skip the greasing, and instead line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners. Fill each muffin cup 2/3-3/4 full. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
2. Cake flour may be substituted for the all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Just use 3 1/3 cup cake flour in place of the all-purpose flour and cornstarch.
3. If you don’t have buttermilk, put one tablespoon of white vinegar in the bottom of a liquid measuring cup, then pour milk up to the 2 cup mark. Stir and let sit for five minutes, until curdled. Use as instructed in the recipe. Do not use skim or fat free milk.