Anyone who reads the smittenkitchen knows about Celebration Cakes. This is a Celebration Cake: a glorious 3-layer apple cake with an elegant caramel buttercream. I baked this cake for Paul's birthday. He took one look at it on the cake stand and said "that's one tall cake!"
I made the applesauce on Saturday (using McIntosh, Cortland, Fuji, and Golden Delicious apples), the caramel on Sunday, then baked the cake and whipped the buttercream on Monday. I'm glad I spread out the components because you cannot rush this cake. Take your time. Enjoy the process.
I previously baked the Whiteout Cake from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking which uses a similar buttercream. Warming the sugar/flour/milk/cream mixture reminds me of making a bechamel. It takes 10-15 minutes, but it's so worth the wait. I think the flour balances the sweetness. I beat the warm flour mixture for probably 10-12 minutes until it was cool to the touch. I worried that my butter was too warm when I added it, but it came together lovely. I had to restrain myself from licking the bowl. I often have a ton of leftover buttercream, but this recipe is the right amount. The ratio of cake to buttercream is right on!
This cake is very forgiving. I noticed several kind of large craters cracks in the middle when I added the second layer. I started to bum out...before remembering that frosting is really spackle! I added enough to cover the cracks. The cake held together and sliced like a dream. Perfection!
This is what is looked like after we burned 18 sparkler candles on it. Excuse the red candle drips and the smear. Photography is hard work.