I believe the words I put on this blog. Every single of one of them. I believe that baking requires a very exact ratio of perfectionism to calm-down-it's-just-a-cake-ism. I know that when perfectionism does not bring about the desired product it's time for the calming down part of the equation to kick in. I know all of that, but that is not to say I have in any way mastered it.
I still have my kitchen floor meltdowns over various baking blunders. I feel like cakes are both the cause and the solution to many of them.
Cakes can at times be down right irritating. That's not to say we give up, we just need to get creative.
My mother used to tell me, and in fact still tells me, that the way to handle a big problem is to break it down in small, manageable pieces. Hello mini layer cakes!
These are not your covered-in-fondant-perfectly-smooth layer cakes. These are the type of layer cakes you can ice with a butter knife and get away with imperfections. Rustic simplicity.
No obsessing over icing lines allowed - just let it be what it wants to be.
I made these layer cakes because I wanted/needed a little bit of fancy in my week. They are filled with raspberry mousse and lemon poppy seed buttercream - just what the Spring weather demands.
Turns out my mother was right…again. Break down those baking problems into manageable bites.
Let us eat cake! (I just couldn't resist.)
Petite Layer Cakes
makes 5 cakes / 10 servings / adapted slightly from Baking At Home
for the raspberry mousse
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup raspberry jam
In the work bowl of your stand mixer beat cream until soft peaks form. Fold in jam. Refrigerate until ready to use.
for the buttercream
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest of one lemon
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
In the work bowl of your stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), whip butter on high speed for 1 minute. Add confectioner’s sugar in small additions. Add heavy cream and vanilla extract.
Transfer 1/3 of the buttercream to a small bowl and fold in lemon zest, lemon juice and poppy seeds.
for the cake
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl sift to combine flours and baking powder.
Combine milk and vanilla extract.
In the bowl of your stand mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), beat butter on high for 1 minute. Add sugar slowly, scraping down the sides as needed, until all the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and mixing well.
With the mixer on medium speed add alternate between additions of flour and milk mixtures until all the ingredients are well incorporated and the batter is smooth.
Grease and flour a 15 x 10 baking pan and fill with prepared batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes.
Once the cake has fully cooled use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut small rounds out of the cake. You should get 10 of these rounds. Slice rounds in half to form two layers from each round of cake.
Layer the rounds of cake with alternating layers of mousse and lemon poppy seed buttercream. Each cake should be 4 layers. Transfer the cakes to the freezer for 10 minutes to allow the layers to set.
Trim the edges of the cakes, if necessary, with a sharp knife. Coat each cake with a thin layer of vanilla buttercream - this is called the “crumb coat.” Return the cakes to the freezer for 10 minutes to allow the first layer of icing to set.
Ice each cake with the final coat of buttercream. You may choose to use vanilla buttercream or lemon poppy seed. I chose to alternate. Decorate with flowers, if you so desire. (Non-poisonous flowers that is.)