My roommate Rachel and I took a little trip down to Cape Cod! We, both relatively recent west coast transplants, were all smiles when we arrived at Provincetown, which was all the way at the tip of cape. When we turned onto the cute main street of the tiny coastal town, we pretty much turned into little kids at Disneyland. Flags from all over the world were strung across the street, and our fellow tourists all looked completely carefree. There were little shops and eateries everywhere. We were practically bouncing up and down in our seats.
The first thing we did when we got there was put food in our food holes. We walked into the Lobster Pot and were given the best seats in the house – right against the window with a panoramic view of the ocean. It might have had something to do with the fact that we were eating dinner at 5 o’clock with the other early birds.We ordered with our eyes, but our taste buds were on the same page. We indulged in baked oysters, lobster, and fish n’ chips. The oysters were so amazing that it almost brought us to tears. We considered a second round, but the prospect of dessert stopped us.
And so we ate, walked around, gushed over every little thing, enjoyed vanilla ice cream with hot fudge (oops, I just drooled on my laptop), did yoga on a tiny boardwalk, and biked into the town. We biked through the crowded parking lot of their local high school, and passed by boys and girls in formal attire. A dance was taking place inside their gym. When we got to the front of the gym, a young man in a tux invited us to go to prom! It was open to the public and only $5! Now that was a bargain because my proms always costed way more than a Lincoln. My favorite oldies were booming from inside the gym, and of course, Rachel and I really wanted to go. But because it was getting late and my beautiful senior prom dress was stored away at my parent’s house, we biked on.
On the way home, we stopped at a gorgeous beach (Marconi Beach) and caught the end of a beautiful sunset. Up until that moment, I did not realize how much I missed hearing the sound of waves crashing onto each other and being chased by the tide on the shore. With wet pants and sand in our shoes, we returned back to Boston.
A major source of inspiration for my recipes comes from brilliant chefs and bakers who make my taste buds do their happy dance. This burnt sugar cake was inspired by Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream’s burnt sugar flavor and Peter’s Bakery’s burnt almond cake. The cake turned out so well, with the exception of a minor assembly error on my part*. It was incredibly delicious, dense, and moist. The custard cream filling was absolutely divine and possibly Karl’s favorite part of the cake. To me, this cake and its filling are like a pair of shoes, they’re both equally important and need each other to properly function! I topped the cake with a fresh cut peony that I bought from the farmer’s market (I had a hard time getting myself to snip the stem off the beautiful flower).
*My assembly error: I completely forgot to create a buttercream ring around the circumference of the bottom layer before adding the custard cream, so don’t make the same mistake I did (this is reiterated in the recipe). Pipe a thick ring of buttercream around the circumference of the bottom layer of the cake. Once you have a nice ring, fill it in with custard. The ring prevents the thick custard cream oozing out when you stack on the second layer. It becomes really important when you frost the sides of the cake.
Finally, hats off to the flavor geniuses who make my blogging world go ’round!
- 4 yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ + ¼ cup sugar
- 2 cups milk
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons hot water
- 1 cup unsalted butter, soften
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 cups + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 pound (3¾ cup) confectioner's sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
- 3 tablespoons milk
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, egg, cornstarch, and ¼ cup of sugar. Set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat the milk, remaining ¼ cup sugar, and salt over medium heat. Stir occasionally and take it off the heat as soon as it starts to boil.
- Slowly add ⅓ of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking quickly to temper the eggs. Return the tempered egg mixture to the remaining milk mixture in the saucepan and cook, stirring continuously until it reaches a boil. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, then stir in the vanilla extract and butter.
- Press a layer of cling wrap directly on top of the custard, and refrigerate until cold and firm, at least 2 hours.
- Whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar together until it forms firm peaks. Gently fold together the pastry cream and whipped cream together. Press a layer of cling wrap directly on top of the custard cream, and refrigerate until you're ready to use it.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Grease two 8'' round baking pans with butter then dust with flour. Line the bottom of baking pans with parchment paper.
- In a nonstick skillet, heat ¾ cup sugar over medium-high heat until the sugar melts and turns dark brown, about 6-8 minutes. Stir occasionally with a whisk. When the sugar is dark brown, whisk in 6 tablespoons hot water until incorporated, then take it off the heat.
- With an electric mixer, mix the butter and remaining 1 cup sugar on medium speed until completely smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, then add the eggs, one at a time. Add the buttermilk, vanilla extract, baking soda, and salt, then mix on medium speed until incorporated.
- In medium mixing bowl, whisk the cornstarch and flour together. Slowly add the flour mixture and the burnt sugar mixture to the wet mixture on medium-low speed. Mix until just incorporated (careful not over mix).
- Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 34 to 36 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to rest in their pans on a wired rack for 30 minutes. Take them out of the pans and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
- With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugar together, on medium-low speed until the sugar is mostly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high, and mix for 5 minutes, until smooth and fluffy. Slowly add the vanilla extract, milk and coffee, then mix for another 3 minutes. Stop once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Place ⅓ of the frosting in a piping bag or gallon-size Ziploc bag. Pipe a thick ring (about ¾ inch thick) of frosting around the circumference of one of the cooled cakes. Fill in the ring with the custard cream (do not overfill), and level with a spatula or butter knife. Place the second layer on top.
- Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting to create a crumb layer, then stick the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes - this will prevent crumbs from coming off when frosting the entire cake. Once the crumb layer is set, frost the entire cake with the remaining buttercream frosting with an angled spatula.