I did a bad thing.
I changed King Cake. Into a layer cake. The horror! The horror! I can hear my NOLA friends (Hi Megan! Hi Justin! Hi Ben! Hi Cole!) rolling their eyes and blanching at the thought.
Lord forgive me.
Eating a slice of this cake may go a long way towards forgiveness. It’s got all the aspects of the traditional King Cake – brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, sprinkles. But I did away with the yeasted, brioche-esque dough (because I’m lazy) and soaked the whole thing in a bourbon syrup (because Bourbon Street). There’s still a baby hidden among the layers, he’s under the light and airy sorta-Swiss buttercream.
Try and find him!
King Cake Layer Cake
(makes 1 9-inch layer cake)
3 ½ cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¾ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter, browned and cooled
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1 ¼ cups half&half
¼ cup bourbon
1 ½ cups toasted pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 3 9-inch round cake pans with baking spray, line with parchment rounds, and spray again, set aside.
Whisk together the flour, soda, powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the browned butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing to fully incorporate fully before stirring in vanilla and almond extracts. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Alternating in three batches add the dry ingredients, then the half&half and bourbon, ending with dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Stir in pecans.
Divide batter among prepared pans and bake in preheated oven for 25 – 28 minutes. Remove from oven to rack and cool in pans for 5 minutes before turning out and cooling entirely to room temperature.
While the cakes bake, combine ½ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup bourbon, and ¼ water in a small saucepan, heating until dissolved. Remove from heat.
Before frosting the cake, cut off any uneven tops and douse in bourbon brown sugar simple syrup.
Frost with Sorta-Swiss Brown Sugar Buttercream, recipe follows.
Sorta-Swiss Brown Sugar Buttercream
(adapted from Martha Stewart)
6 egg whites
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
8 cups powdered sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
In the glass bowl of a double boiler, whisk together the egg whites, brown sugar, and salt. Heat, stirring constantly, until warm and sugar is fully dissolved.
Transfer sugar mixture to bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and whisk on medium-high speed until light and fluffy and stiff peaks form. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add powdered sugar and cinnamon, and cream until light and fluffy. Frost cooled cake.
To crumb coat the cake: frost the sides of the cake with the residual frosting from the layers and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Cover the cake in whatever frosting remains. Place back in fridge, removing at least 30 minutes before serving.