Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cherry Almond Cream Cake

This cherry almond cream cake is pretty and elegant which is why it's perfect for my friend Linda's birthday.

The flavors of cherry and almond go so well together and are enhanced even more by the creamy vanilla buttercream.

The buttercream is piped in a rose pattern and is a simple design element that adds lots of texture and interest.  I added the tiniest drop of pink coloring to tint the frosting and and added a few fresh ripe cherries to decorate the top of the cake.

Almond Cake
(makes 3 layers)
3/4 cup butter, unsalted
2 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease, flour and line with parchment paper three round 8 -inch cake pans.
Greasing and flouring the cake pans as well as adding a parchment round to the bottoms will ensure that your cakes won't stick.

Beat the butter with the almond extract. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, milk and yogurt or sour cream.

Add the baking powder and salt and mix. Finally, add the flour and beat until thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter evenly into the three cake pans and bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until done and toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cherry Filling
1 pound (16 ounces) bag frozen cherries
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat the frozen cherries, sugar and almond extract in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Use a potato masher to smash them and break them apart. Keep a watch over them and periodically give them a stir.

In a small bowl whisk together the cream and cornstarch. When the cherry  mixture is simmering, add the cream mixture and whisk constantly over medium heat for two to three minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using.

Remove the filling from the heat and let it cool completely before using.

Vanilla Cream Buttercream
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons vanilla
3 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
one tiny drop of pink coloring

*Note: The frosting base can be made a day in advance since it needs to cool to room temperature before the butter is added.

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the milk and half of the sugar until simmering.

In the meantime, in a small bowl combine the cream, the other half of the sugar and cornstarch. Mix well with a whisk.

When the milk is simmering,  pour about half of it into the cream mixture and whisk well. Add it back to the milk in the saucepan and heat, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes very thick.

Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla. Put the mixture into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the mixture cool completely.

When the buttercream base is cool, transfer it to a mixer and whip until smooth, add the butter a tablespoon at a time and whip until light and fluffy.  Add the tiny drop of pink coloring and whip again.
Just a tiny drop of pink food coloring is all you need.

To Assemble:
Place one cooled cake layer on a cake plate. Top with 1/2 of the cherry filling. Add a layer of buttercream.

Add the second cooled cake layer and top with the remaining cherry filling and another layer of buttercream.

The second layer just needs a coating of buttercream before it's ready for the final cake layer.

Add the final layer and add a thin coat of buttercream to the entire cake to seal in the cherry filling.
This coat is called a crumb coat and won't look pretty, but don't worry. Put the cake in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to firm up before adding more buttercream.

The first layer of buttercream isn't so pretty but it seals in the cherry filling.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator and add another thin coat of buttercream to the entire cake to better cover where the cherry filling is showing through.

Looking much better after a second coat of buttercream. Now it's ready for the roses.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a #30 Wilton star tip with buttercream and pipe roses over the entire cake starting at the bottom and working up to the top of the cake. Don't overfill your piping bag. It's better to just refill it a few times.

To form a rose just go around in a circle to form the rose and end in the center. It's surprisingly easy.

Go around the cake and fill in any open spaces with buttercream.
There's a blank spot on the top edge of the cake.

Filled in and looking much better.

Top your cake with a few stemmed fresh cherries.

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