Wow that title was a mouthful. How about cwc sm buttercream?
Also, before we get into it, I know, it looks like I have gathered sandwich bread, layered it between jam and covered it in peanut butter. And I’m not gonna pretend that doesn’t sound delicious but this is better, way better!
The story of this cake begins with cranberry curd. If you like lemon curd you will LOVE this stuff. It’s sharp and sweet and totally lights up your tastebuds. It’s fairly easy to make: soften the cranberries with some sweeteners by boiling then add butter and temper in some egg. Hello heaven.
And then you’ve got these leftover whites from making the curd and...
Let’s stop here for a minute and talk about cwc. This stuff is incredible. I’m one of those snobs that doesn’t think white chocolate is really chocolate (no cocoa solids, no love) but simple manipulations to everyday ingredients which lead to transformative results are my game: basically you spread a lot of chopped white chocolate on a baking sheet and bake it for 45 minutes or more - turning every now and then. It turns rough and beige at first and then as you stir you find it turning darker on the bottom. Stir and repeat. Get to the point where the color you see is the color of caramel and it starts smoothing out again. Once you are at stage you like, puree it - sneak a taste, it’s so good. You can use it immediately or save it for later use.
Later uses like, cwc sm buttercream?? Hells yeah! Onto it.
Cranberry Curd and CWC SM Buttercream on a Yellow Cake
You can choose any cake you like but I strongly suggest a yellow or a white. The buttercream and cranberry really are the stars of this show and just need a base.
You can make all the components a day or two ahead and assemble on the day you need the cake. The curd and the buttercream keep for about 5 days in the fridge. I wouldn’t store the cake in the fridge - keep it in the freezer so it doesn’t dry out.
There are a lot of whites only or yellows only here in these recipes: you need yolks for the curd, yolks for the cake, and all whites for the buttercream. I don’t know about you but I really hate wasting, so I suggest you do a little math beforehand for what size of cake you want and how much you’ll need of everything and based on that, choose a cake recipe (see below suggestions).
Like the little trees on the cake? Confession: I grudgingly love white chocolate. I melted and tempered white chocolate and piped out trees onto a piece of parchment paper. Once set (if the chocolate is tempered properly this won’t take too long), one by one put them on the cake. They taste so much better than glaze or fondant! And they give a nice little crunch in every cake piece.
For the yellow cake, here are some of my favorite recipes:
Stella Parks, BraveTart p. 118: Wonderful but requires potato flour which I rarely have. (8 yolks)
Food52, Genius Desserts, p.118: I like this one especially for a layered 8” cake because the cake uses 6 yolks and the buttercream needs 6 whites!
Bonappetit, Easy Sheet cake: Great if you are making a smaller cake and don’t want a lot of leftover whites. (2 yolks)
Cranberry curd recipe via, new york times cooking:
(make half of this if you are making a smaller cake and don’t want leftovers, but come on - of course you want leftovers!)
12 oz cranberries
1 cup sugar
peel and juice of 1 orange
4 oz butter, soft
2 eggs and 2 yolks
In a saucepan simmer the sugar, orange parts and cranberries until they bust and go totally soft, releasing all their juices. Strain the mix through a sieve and stir butter into liquid. Return to saucepan on low as butter melts. Whisk eggs and yolks in a bowl and add a spoonful of cranberry liquid and whisk. Do this a couple more times (this is tempering) and once the mix has doubled in volume add it all to the saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and allow to thicken. You can take it off once temperature reaches 170. Allow to cool to room temperature before using on the cakes. Or store in an air tight container in the fridge for later use.
Caramelized White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
First caramelize some white chocolate:
I like this guide from David Lebovitz (also, check out my instagram highlights for a walk-through in photos)
essentially you’ll take as much white chocolate as you want - do at least 8oz to make it worth the time - and bake it at 250, stirring it from time to time until it turns the color of caramel
I puree mine as soon as I’m happy with the color and then let it set on a parchment-lined 1/4 sheet pan
once it is firm and set, I chop it up and store it in an air-tight container
if you are going to use this right away, use it right after the puree step
Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
(here is where I started with this recipe though I ventured away from the original)
(make the full recipe for an 8 or 9” two layer cake, half for a 6”)
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon sea salt
11 oz dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
16 oz butter (4 sticks), warm
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
400g caramelized white chocolate, melted but at room temperature or just a bit warm
In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, lemon juice and salt. Place over a pot with boiling water and cook for about 10 minutes, until the temperature reaches 185.
Pour mixture into a stand mixer and whisk on high for about 10 minutes, until it becomes thick, pale and glossy. Add butter a spoonful at a time, allowing each to be incorporated before adding another. Add vanilla and mix. Then pour in the melted chocolate and whisk on medium until it all comes together. Because of the warm chocolate the buttercream may seem not solid enough but it will firm up in the fridge and at room temp, holds up just fine.
There are a million guides online for how to frost and assemble a layer cake so I’m not going to bore you here with more text, instead I’ll link to this video which I think is really helpful.
I baked my cake in two 5” molds and then sliced both in half for 4 cake layers. With this cake, the more layers the better because you get more curd.
Before you put the curd onto your cake layer, pipe a circle of buttercream around the border to prevent the curd from leaking out.
Make sure you to put a bottom cake layer upside down on the top of the cake to make for even frosting.