Monday, August 23, 2010

White Chocolate Layer Cake with Apricot Filling and White Chocolate Buttercream


I know.  You can't believe it.  You think you might be dreaming, or maybe having some sort of weird deja vu experience because I am posting yet another recipe with apricots and peaches.  Can you stand it?  I hope so, because this cake is actually pretty dreamy, and is an awesome Celebration Cake.  Just scroll down a little bit and you can check out all the goodies that are packed into this dessert.  That doozy of a title pretty much tells it all, but aren't we all visual creatures?  (Men, I am not just talking about you.)


Oh yes, there is that silky, sweet White Chocolate Buttercream.


One delicious layer of White Chocolate Cake on top of another. Plus, apricot filling and more buttercream. *sigh*   





This sticky, sweet peach syrup was the most beautiful amber color...



And for the finishing touch, ripe peaches decorate the top.

Ahhh, just thinking about it now is making me want to rush to my fridge and eat that last sliver of cake I have been saving!  I need to resist temptation, mostly because I have already eaten a piece of cake today, two pieces yesterday, and possibly two on Friday.  So far, this is ok, but I don't want to get too carried away here.  (If you qualify making two layer cakes in 24 hours "getting carried away," well, I might have already done that.)

So what was the reason for making this beautiful Celebration Cake?  Not that you absolutely need a reason for making a cake, but I created this dessert by order from my boss to celebrate getting lots and lots of grant money from the government for us to do our research.  Yay!  As anyone in science knows, times are still relatively tough for getting grant money so this was really an accomplishment and definitely worth a tall sugary dessert for congratulations.

Here is what I especially love about this cake: I won't tell you it is easy to make, but it is definitely not the hardest or most labor intensive thing I have made either, and I have provided some techniques and tips below.  As far as flavor goes, the combination of white chocolate with fruit is a winning one, and makes this cake infinitely adaptable; the apricots are fantastic, but if you like, swap them out for strawberries between the layers, or maybe raspberry jam.  The cake is moist and dense, and the white chocolate makes this cake rich and sweet but not overpowering.  On Epicurious, it was listed in the Top 30 cakes and I am not surprised because it is phenomenal overall.  So next time you need a cake to celebrate a special occasion, give it a go, you will not be disappointed! 











White Chocolate Layer Cake with Apricot Filling and White Chocolate Buttercream
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2003 via Epicurious

Rather than rewrite the entire recipe here, since that would be tedious for me and repetitive for you, I will direct you to Epicurious to check out the recipe and I will tell you about the small changes I made and also my suggestions for techniques and tricks that helped me out.

First.  Learn from the masters.  There are undoubtedly many master bakers, but Deb over at Smitten Kitchen has an awesome write up about one of her favorite layer cakes and a list of 10 tips for better layer cakes. (Those last two links are the same.  I want to make sure you don't miss it.  Should I post it again?  It is very helpful.)  Three things Deb mentioned that worked really well for me:

1.)  After my cakes were out of the pans and completely cooled, I flash froze them for about 20 minutes, then took them out of the freezer and sliced them in half.  This was an infinitely more pleasant task because they were cold and hard and I did not need to fret about them breaking in half.  After they were sliced, I wrapped each of the four halves doubly in plastic, and put them in freezer bags for the next day.  This is preparing ahead and good planning. :)


2.) Absolutely put some waxed paper etc. just underneath the base of your cake to protect your cake board or serving plate from your messy frosting or nuts or whatever crazy things you put on your cake.  Think of this like painters tape to give your cake a clean finished edge and protect the areas you don't want to get dirty. You can see how I did this in the photo below, and I actually just used the remnants left over from when I cut out the parchment rounds.   


3.) Crumb coat, crumb coat, crumb coat.  If you don't know what I am talking about, the crumb coat is a very thin layer of frosting that catches all the crumbs so they don't get caught up in the final frosting and make your cake look less beautiful; also, it helps to put a first layer of color on the cake, to prep for the final color.  Again in terms of painting, think of it like priming a wall.  Make sure to let the crumb coat set in the fridge or freezer as the recipe suggests.  This gives you a perfect clean slate to apply to thicker coat of frosting. 





And now for small recipe changes and tips from The Cilantropist: 

-Definitely follow the recipe when it lists times for letting the cake set in the fridge but also for time spent out of the fridge.  The buttercream will not be soft enough if you don't let the cake sit at room temp before serving.
-An angled icing spatula like the one below is SUPER helpful for putting on smooth frosting, but not essential.  Mine is from Wilton, and you can pick it up for just a few bucks.  In a pinch, I have used a regular angled spatula (like you would use for flipping eggs or pancakes) and it has done the job.


-For the cake, I used only 7 ounces of white chocolate and it tasted great.  Go with what you can easily buy (some bars are 3.5oz, others are 4oz).
-Rather than 1 1/4 pound of white chocolate in the buttercream, I used just barely over 1 pound.  White chocolate is expensive and sweet, and I didn't want to go overboard with either.  
-I am not a huge fan of walnuts, so I put slivered almonds on the sides of the cake instead.
-For the apricot filling, I used 4 apricots diced and 1 1/2 cup of peach jam (divide apricots and jam evenly between 3 layers). 
-Instead of plain sugar syrup to moisten the cake, I had some reserved peach syrup from making jam and so I used that.  Use what you have on hand, and don't worry about making the peach syrup unless you want to make the jam as well.
-I put sliced peaches on the top of the cake. 

Enjoy, and as always, email with any questions or post in comments below! 

52 comments:

  1. This looks like an incredible way of enjoying fresh apricots! Beautiful job!

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  2. What a wonderful idea! I love that combination!

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  3. What a beautiful cake. Looks delicious!

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  4. That bowl of sliced apricots make me want to run to the store and eat one right now! This cake is beautiful (I love the slivered almonds), I am sure your boss was happy!

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  5. Beautiful!! It would be hard to resist that piece of cake you've been saving :)

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  6. Congratulations on the grant! And what a gorgeous way of celebrating. I would've had such a hard time cutting into so lovely a cake, except that the inside is even more outstanding. 8-)

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  7. This is so pretty. I love peaches and apricots and how they're best friends with cream. Yummy!

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  8. wow, this look both amazing and delicious! i just made a chocolate layer cake over the weekend, and although they have a lot of steps, it's not very difficult, plus the reward is so yummy. congrats on your grant - you picked a great way to celebrate!

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  9. Beautiful cake!!! You can't do enough peach recipes for me, I love them.

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  10. Gorgeous cake and amazing flavors. And congrats on the grant money! I know how much that means to a lab--way important.

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  11. Wow! You've gone all out on this one. I LOVE the tips. I would have never thought about freezing the layers. And adding a crumb coat is just brilliant! Congrats on your grant money. that's so awesome!

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  12. I love how perfect the layers are and how bright the fruit is against the cake and buttercream! Congrats to your team for securing the grant money :)

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  13. That looks absolutely delicious, and so beautiful and neatly done! Love all the tips and step wise photos. Beautiful post. I really want to make this cake now! I think it would also be fun with mango if you're feeling a little tropical, although I just love apricots and peaches too...

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  14. What a beautiful looking cake! Im actually heading to the store to get apricots after work today for a cake :) I bet it was delicious too!

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  15. This cakes looks so serenely beautiful! I can only imagine how delicious it must be...

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  16. Wow, what an absolutely gorgeous cake! Looks like it came from a bakery!! :-D

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  17. You're not the only one who can't stop using peaches. I am guilty as well. I think my husband is going to get sick of them, so I might need to make this cake to convince him that peaches are worth indulging in!

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  18. This cake is gorgeous! I wouldn't be able to resist it either!

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  19. Yum. Love the sliced photo with all the layers.

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  20. Okay you need to quite your day job and become a professional foodie! This is fabulous and I need to taste this next time I come to visit you!!

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  21. That is a cracker of a cake! Outstanding. :)

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  22. What a gorgeous, GORGEOUS cake! I'm book marking for next week's party! Thanks!

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  23. I've been enjoying your apricot and peach series. You've done a wonderful job showcasing the season's bounty with different types of recipes. I must say, though, that this might just top them all even though I've thought about nothing but making preserves all week since your post.

    This cake is divine and your photos outstanding. Well done!

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  24. Congrats on the grant money! I want that cake so bad! Well worth the effort! Great tips.
    -Gina-

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  25. Amanda--I LOVE this post! The cake looks out-of-this world, and I'm just hoping for an opportunity to make it soon. (And what better occassion than getting research money?! Adam sends you a congratulations, as he can totally relate to the stress of trying to secure grant funds).

    White chocolate + peaches = winning combo. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Hope you're having a great day! :)

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  26. W O W. so when can I come over? I request this!

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  27. This goes without saying, but what a gorgeous cake. (And I have to take ALL my baked goods to work so I don't eat them by myself. As in last week I made a crumble and, uh, finished it off ... alone.)

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  28. What a stunning cake! Perfect flavors of summer! You did a great job.

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  29. Amanda this post is AMAZING!! I love all the pics!! Congrats on the grant!... a perfect celebration cake it is!

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  30. Superb, gorgeous, irresistible... are among the few adjectives to describe your cake, and definitely, as delicious blend of flavour! Yum!

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  31. This is just gorgeous and certainly looks labor intensive! I'm with you on the fresh peaches...yum!

    Thank you for the great tips. This was a really nice post. :)

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  32. This cake looks gorgeous and delicious!

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  33. What a simple and stunning cake! Love the white chocolate frosting.

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  34. This looks incredible - your pictures and description are so good I can practically taste it! I feel a made up special occasion coming on...
    Congrats on your grant!!! :-)

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  35. Beautiful cake! And who can resist apricots and peaches? It's the perfect time of year for such recipes.

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  36. This cake is gorgeous!! The almonds look so lovely! I wannta try it!

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  37. That is one stunning cake… I can never get my cakes to look at neat! Sounds so tasty!

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  38. What a gorgeous cake! I love all of the textures and tastes you have combined in that beauty.

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  39. That is a wonderful cake! I really love those flavors. Heavenly!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  40. My goodness, what a beautiful labor of love! My mind is drooling (is that possible? Mind drool?) over the combination of flavors!

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  41. I'm so sorry to weigh in late here... This is a spectacular thing of beauty. Nice cake, lovely post, great photos. Yes, yes, yes. Cake is one of my most favorite foods, and this would be in the top bracket of that for sure.

    As a professional grant-writer, good for you for having that terrific award to celebrate. Blessings on your research!

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  42. simply beautiful! and oh how I love apricot!

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  43. Oh my goodness all of the pictures.. particularly made me imagine this as not just being a cake.. but with the layers it made me think of the best sandwich.. EVER :D

    White chocolate does not get enough love it seems like, and I'm glad to see it! Actually, I'm hoping to make white chocolate truffles soon, I just need to remember to get some dried strawberries next time I'm at the store :) I'm hoping to post about it soon!

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  44. Ooo this looks delicious! I'm gonna be making it today for my friends birthday! Can't wait to try it!

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  45. Jenni: I hope the cake turns out fabulous for you and will be an amazing treat for your friend! Don't hesitate to email me directly with any questions you might have! :)

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