cake ELEGANCE and WHIMSY for my Birthday Mom

on her CELEBRATORY birthDAY.

Life has lately been nothing but unusually crazy busy. 
However, a very important task had to be accomplished.
I've been scrambling to put this recipe together with of course photos...
so that my Mommy could have her cake a second time.
Second, because we celebrated her on Sunday...
while her real Birthday is today!

If I were asked to describe my Mommy's personality...
I would definitely say this cake does her justice.

She's as strong as the foundation of this cake...
as well as having the vulnerabilities of possible shifting...
layers if not supported by quality ingredients.

The crunch of the selected nuts...show off her witty character. 

The smooth flowing topping...underline her simple elegance.

However, most importantly...
the very showy upright slender cookies...
showcases her dramatic, funny and uplifting personality.

Therefore, when Mom walked into the dining room
to be surprised by her dedicated cake...
her expression said it all...it was actually quite priceless.

Back to the decadent lusciously flowing celebrity cake.
Keep in mind...Mom is very careful with her silhouette lately.
Therefore, when I saw my very polite mother with the
most refined manners imaginable...
licking her fingers with her favourite cream topping...
...well at that point it was all worth the great amount of
time spent creating this special cake for her.

Oh...and by the way...my fingers were not too far either ;o)

My only regret is not having captured that very delicate moment on camera.
Who knows when something like that could come in handy.
I would have been able to have used this as leverage...
at some later vulnerable point of misbehaviour ;o)

This cake truly turned out fabulous.

The flavours all came together divinely without an overpowering sweetness.
There was the light smoothness of the vanilla cream topping which...
enveloped a very light textured and yet robust cake.
The layers were thankfully held by a very tasty...
bite of chocolate maple syrup mousse.

Now, Mom has been dying to know how I...
managed to put all this together.
Lot's of organization, but mostly tons of dedication and LOVE.
So Mom...here is how it all unfolded.
For any of my fellow foodies who would like to try making this cake...
don't be overwhelmed...one step at the time.
Before you know it...you'll realize that it...
felt more difficult than it really turns out to be.
So, come along and enjoy a virtual piece of cake with me...
until of course you try your own ;o)

. I used my regular cake recipe which I have modified from one of Cook's illustrated versions of a plain basic yellow cake.  I, then altered it quite a bit more to become a flavourful version of butterscotch and pecans. This served as the primary foundation to this fabulous creation.
. To keep the 3 layers in their place I concocted a very easy coarse chocolate maple syrup mousse to be layered in between the cake sponge. The final dressing came in the form of a lava flowing topping of vanilla pudding and whipped cream.
. The decorative finishing held a handful of lightly roasted slivered almonds along with pecans and store bought rolled chocolate hazelnut cigar cookies.

high layered cake
serves 8-12 people

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(note: all ingredients should be at room temp.)
(American / Metric measures)

. 1-1/2 cups (225g) unbleached, All-Purpose flour 
(extra for dusting pan)
. 1 cup (130g) Whole wheat flour
. 1 small pkg. (100g) Butterscotch pudding mix
. 1 tsp. (5ml) baking powder
. 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) baking soda
. 1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) salt
. 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar, packed
. 1/2 cup (110g) granulated sugar (half goes with the egg whites)
. 1/2 cup (120ml) unsalted butter (melted and brought to room temp.)
. 1 cup (250ml) Buttermilk* 
. 3 tbsps. (45ml) vegetable oil
. 2 tsps. (10ml) vanilla extract
. 6 large egg yolks
. 3 large egg whites  
. 1/2 cup (60g) pecans, coarsely chopped
. 1 orange zest (optional)

* Making homemade BUTTERMILK:
. For about every 1 cup (250ml) needed...first add 1 tbsp. (15ml) of EITHER white vinegar, cider vinegar or lemon juice.  To that, add the rest in the amount of milk to complete the volume required in the recipe.  Let the milk rest to thicken for 10 minutes.  Afterwards, give it a light stir before pouring into the recipe.

Position the rack in the center of the oven.
Use a 10 inch/(26cm) Bundt pan (which I used) OR a regular Tube cake pan.
Oil-spray the pan and lightly dust with flour to coat all surfaces...knock out the excess.
For a dark surface cake pan...Pre-heat oven to 325F/170C/Gas3
For a light colored surface pan...Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4

1. In a large bowl:  hand whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar and the half the amount  of granulated sugar.   Make a well and set aside.
2. In a small sized bowl: hand whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and the egg yolks.  Set aside.
3. In a medium sized bowl: with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until foamy (about 30 seconds).  Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.  Continue beating until stiff peaks form (about 60 seconds).  Set aside.
...Combining the mixes:
4. Gradually pour butter mix into the flour mix as you beat on Low speed.  Blend together while scraping the sides with a spatula.  Beat until all is incorporated (about 30 seconds).  Do not over mix.
5. Afterwards, with a spatula...fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter.  Add the remaining whites and continue to gently fold the batter until all streaks of white have disappeared.
6. Now, the chopped pecans and the (optional orange zest) can be folded in.
7. Pour the batter into the cake pan and lightly tap down the pan to remove air bubbles.
8. BAKE for about 40-45 minutes or until the cake seems to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Test it also by inserting a toothpick in the center to make sure it comes out clean.
. Once out of the oven, place the cake on a rack to cool for about ten minutes before loosening it from the sides.  Once loosened, you can securely invert the cake onto another wire rack for another rest of 5 minutes. Revert the cake back again onto the rack.  Cool the cake completely for a minimum of 2 hours before manipulating it.  
Note: My personal choice is to bake it the day before and covering it with a clean tea cloth.  The day after, I'm ready to assemble and decorate.

(American / Metric measures)

...Cream filling + Topping:
. 1 small pkg. (100g) Vanilla pudding mix
. 2 cups (500ml) of milk (1% fat+)
. 5 ounces (150g) bittersweet 65-70% chocolate
. 1 tsp. (5ml) unsalted butter
. 1/8 cup (25ml) Maple syrup (or Agave Nectar)
. 2 cups (500ml) 35% whipping cream
. 1/2 cup (64g) confectioner's sugar
. 1/2 cup (60g) slivered almonds (lightly toasted)
. 10 raw, pecan halves
. 10 chocolate hazelnut cigar cookies


1. Slightly toast the slivered almonds in the oven or skillet. Watch over them!  Set aside to completely cool.
Vanilla pudding topping:
2. In a medium bowl, using an electric beater...pour in the milk into the vanilla powder (follow package directions).  Cover with plastic wrap (touching the cream) and refrigerate until ready to use.
Chocolate Mousse-type cream:
3. In a small bowl...place the chopped chocolate with butter and melt in microwave in increments of 40 seconds each.  After the first time...give it a slight stir.  After the next 40 seconds...let it sit for 5 minutes before stirring until fully melted.  There will be a very shiny appearance.    Once the chocolate has reached room temperature, add the Maple syrup into the melted chocolate and give it a stir.  It will transform its texture...do not worry...this is what you want at this stage.  Set aside.
Whip the 35% Cream:  (to be divided for two mixes)
4. Take another medium bowl and whip the cream to reach the ribbon stage and a good peak is formed.
5. Spoon and fold in a little into the chocolate mix.  Continue putting in about half of the bowl contents into the chocolate.  It will look like a thick mouse mixture with coarse pieces of chocolate.  The remaining goes to the other vanilla based topping.
6. Take the remaining whipped cream and add to it the confectioner's sugar.  Whisk it in by hand.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate while you take care of the rest of the cake assembly.
Cake base assembly:
7. Place the cake on a large serving dish.   Slice the cake in three even layers.  Gently remove the two top layers and set aside.  Spread half the chocolate mousse cream evenly throughout by leaving a little uncovered edge around the perimeter so that it will not spread out from the sides.  Repeat for the next layer.  
8. Afterwards, when the cake has been completely mounted, take out both bowls of vanilla pudding and the whip cream mixes.  Fold in a bit of whipped cream into the pudding to start and then fold in the rest.  Don't over fold, keep it light.  Set aside just for enough time to assemble the cake garnish.
Final decoration Assembly:
9. SLOWLY spoon the cream over the top of the cake. This will create a lava flow outcome throughout the cake.
10. Sprinkle the lightly toasted slivered almonds around the top and a little of the sides of the cake.  Place your pecan halves evenly over the top.   
11. Finish off by placing your chocolate hazelnut cigar cookies standing upright in the middle of the cake.

Voila...you are finally done.
Give yourself a great pat on the back for a job well executed.
Now, all you need to do is wait for all the compliments coming your way ;o)

to my very young...
and vibrant Mommy.

Flavourful wishes,

Comments ... ??? ... or suggestions ... write me :o)
Claudia at: foodessa [at] gmail [dot] com

Go HERE for more SWEET creations.

Please take note on how I bake and cook...
Here’s a 101 of sorts to make sure that there are no disappointments when trying my creations.  
Also...just so you know...feel free to increase the salt and sweet factor since I'm not high on either of them ;o)
. Use DRY cup measurements for...you guessed it...all DRY ingredients.
Anything DRY gets measured by spooning the overfilled ingredient (never shake the cup) and then level off with a flat edged tool.  Exception...Brown sugar should be packed in and leveled.
. Use LIQUID cup measurements for...all LIQUIDS that cannot be leveled like for example butter, yogurt...etc.  Measure the liquids at eye level to avoid overdoing what the recipe truly needs.
OVENS are unfortunately not created equal.  Mine is so old that it has reached many degrees off it's norm.  It's really worth investing a few dollars to test yours with an appropriate oven thermometer.  You'd be surprised how many ovens I've heard about not being where they should have been.  Before you lose any more ingredients and much time preparing a new recipe...run to the store...you'll thank me later.