Chocolate Malt Layer Cake (adapted from Jennifer Farley @ Savory Simple)
This Malted Buttercream is lightly sweet but faintly malted. The malt flavor needs to be more intense to compete with the chocolate. Rather than add more malt, I added vanilla and almond extracts to ramp up the flavor. To be different, this time I pressed cappucino wafer rolls around the sides of the cake.
10.5 oz. all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 oz unsweetened cocoa powder (by volume)
1 3/4 cup half and half (or 50% cream and 50% whole milk)
1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
9 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
21 oz superfine sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup water
5 egg whites
16 oz. unsalted butter, sliced, cubed and at room temperature
1/3 cup malted milk powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons milk, e.g. Horlick’s
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup malted milk balls, chopped, e.g. Whoppers (substitute: Milo Nuggets)
Make the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place an oven rack in the middle position. Grease two 9” pans.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Sift in the cocoa powder and whisk until the dry ingredients are evenly combined. In a separate small bowl, combine the half and half with the vanilla.
3. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on low speed 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to incorporate before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer still on low speed, alternate between adding the dry ingredients with wet ingredients, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Add one third of the flour mixture followed by half of the vanilla mixture. Continue mixing, adding half the remaining flour mixture then the rest of the milk mixture. Finally, combine the rest of the flour mixture in the batter. Scrape down the sides well, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl. Turn the mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.
4. Distribute the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, using an offset spatula to even out the tops. Tap the pans lightly on the counter to dislodge any air bubbles.
Cake Baker’s Note: I wrapped the pans with wet MagiCake strips which prevent a dome from forming on top of the cakes
5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, approximately 30-35 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pan on wire racks before removing them from the pans.
Make the buttercream:
1. While making the buttercream, chill the malted milk balls.
2. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Turn the heat on high and cover.
3. While the sugar syrup is heating up, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until a soft peak forms, then turn down the speed to medium.
4. Once the sugar syrup is simmering, remove the cover from the pan and turn the heat down to medium high. Cook the syrup for 5 minutes or until it reaches a temperature of 235˚F on a candy thermometer. Fit the pouring shield on the mixing bowl and then slowly and carefully pour the syrup down the side of the bowl into the meringue while the machine is still mixing. Add the syrup very slowly to avoid scrambling the egg whites.
5. Once the syrup is added, turn the mixer back up to high and allow the meringue to cool as it whips. This can take up to 20 minutes.
6. Once the meringue has cooled to room temperature, slowly add the butter one piece at a time. The meringue will deflate slightly and it may look curdled, but keep whipping because it will come together.
7. Once all the butter is incorporated slowly drizzle in the malted milk mixture until the frosting is evenly combined. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Frosts one 9” double layer chocolate cake or one 8” triple layer chocolate cake.
Assemble the cake:
1. Place the first layer of cake on a revolving cake stand and remove the parchment paper. Re-invert. Placing a cardboard round below the cake is optional but it will make transporting the cake easier after it is assembled. Crush the malted milk balls in a food processor, pulsing to achieve a coarse crumb. Set aside.
2. Spread approximately one cup buttercream on the trimmed cake top and spread it around evenly with an offset spatula. Add more buttercream as needed to reach the desired thickness, about 1/2-3/4 inch. Repeat. Use an offset spatula to apply a thin layer of frosting to the side and top of the cake. Use a bench scraper to remove excess frosting. Discard rather than reuse because of the crumbs in it. Chill in the refrigerator 30 minutes to set this first layer of buttercream. This is called the crumb coat. Then cover the entire cake with a final layer of frosting. Top with crushed malted milk balls.
Cake Baker’s Note: To make a plain border around the malted milk balls, carefully set an 8” spring form pan lightly on top with the bottom removed. This will leave an inch border around the edges if using 9” layer cake pans. Sprinkle the crushed malted milk balls evenly inside the opening of the cake pan. Carefully remove the pan. Et voilà. Malted milk balls in the center surrounded by a plain border.
3. Cake is best when served at room temperature. Refrigerate leftover cake. Let cake come to room temperature again before serving, because eating cold buttercream is like eating just plain butter, only sweetened.