Since this is an all-white cake it was suggested that we decorate the cake with a "snow scene." Again, I kind of cheated and topped my cupcakes with roll out cookies shaped either as snowflakes or Christmas trees. I stuck with the white theme and decorated the cookies with white royal icing. The cupcakes looked adorable adorned with the cookies.
December’s Cake: White Chocolate Layer Cake
(Recipe from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)
Makes 1 8-inch layer cake
For the White Chocolate Cake
2 ½ cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
4 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup boiling water
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (see note below)
For the White Chocolate Frosting
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
12 ounces (1 ½ cups) cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp butter, softened
¾ tsp vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners sugar
Method – White Chocolate Cake
Heat the oven to 350F and grease three 8 inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a circle of waxed paper or kitchen parchment and flour the pan.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl, and stir with a fork to mix them well.
Bring 3 inches of water to an active simmer in the bottom of a double boiler or a saucepan that will accommodate a medium heat proof bowl so that it sits snugly over the water. Melt the white chocolate in the top of the double boiler or in the bowl over the simmering water. Stir often, and then pour in the ½ cup of boiling water and stir to mix well. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, combine the butter and the sugar and beat with a mixed at medium speed to mix them together well. Add the egg yolks, one by one, beating each time to keep the mixture smooth. Add the white chocolate and the vanilla, and stir well to mix.
Add about a third of the flour mixture, and then about half of the buttermilk, beating with a mixer at low speed just long enough after each addition to make the flour or buttermilk disappear. Mix in another third of the flour, remaining buttermilk and then the last of the flour.
In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites at medium speed until they are foamy and opaque. Continue beating at high speed until they swell into thick, pillowy mounds and hold peaks that are stiff, but not fry. Add one third of the egg white mixture to the bowl of batter, and fold it in gently using a spatula. Add the remaining egg whites and continue to fold with a light touch, until the egg whites are blended in well, with only a few streaks showing.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pans and bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched gently in the centre and are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans.
Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks or folded kitchen towels for about 30 minutes. Turn them out onto the racks and peel off the paper and turn them back the right way up to cool completely.
Method – White Chocolate Frosting
In the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl, melt the white chocolate over hot, not simmering, water, stirring often. Remove from the heat once melted and let cool to lukewarm. Transfer the melted white chocolate to a large bowl, and add the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Beat together at medium speed until you have a smooth sauce. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.
Place one layer, top side down on a cake stand or serving plate and spread it with about a fourth of the icing. Continue stacking and frosting each cake layer in the same way. Cover the sides of the cake with any remaining frosting.
Cover the cake and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Set the cake out about 30 minutes before you want to serve it.
NOTE: If you can’t find buttermilk, stir 1 tbsp lemon juice into 1 cup of milk and leave to stand for 10 minutes before using.