I don't make layer cakes very often on this blog (mostly just for my birthday) and I always tell myself that I should make them more often. I'm not great at that by any means, by the only way to get better is to practice. I tell myself I'll make it simple and easy and it will only take half an hour, maybe an hour tops to assemble it and everything. I see all those gorgeous cakes on instagram and Pinterest and I think, "I could do that! Or at least something kinda like that…" I'm filled with hope and optimism and visions of a lovely little cake made by me.
Aaaaand then it takes me several hours to assemble, the layers are wonky, things are moving when they shouldn't be moving, the masking is terrible, and I can never ever get straight sides and corners. And every time I make a layer cake, I think to myself,
"This is exactly why I don't make f'ing layer cakes more often"
And yet! A few days after I made this cake and the feelings of rage subsided, I was thinking up flavours and decor for another cake! And I don't even like cake very much!! I'm a glutton for punishment, it seems. But in reality, I just want to get better at cakes and I can't stand the thought that a cake has gotten the better of me.
When I make something and it doesn't turn out well, I have this irrational obsession to make it right, just to prove that I can. Years and years ago, I had this with oatmeal cookies. I made 3 batches in one day and made two trips to the grocery store (one of those trips being at 10pm) just so I could make those damn cookies right. They were just cookies after all!! The funny thing is that they never worked out and I have never made an oatmeal cookie since that day 4 years ago. Mostly because I have a mindless hate for them, as if they had done me wrong, conspired against me, defeated me, and personally robbed me of my victory over them. Typing it out really makes it sound insane, but I'm sure some of you have your "white whale" in the kitchen, too.
Despite my feelings of cake inadequacy, I'm still happy with this cake overall. The flavours are awesome, the textures are great, and I really love the little candied kumquats for decoration. I went to one of the big produce markets here in Vancouver and found satsumas with their leaves still attached and I was sold immediately. I didn't even know what to do with them, I just bought a kilo and thought, "I'll figure it out later…". I also bought meyer lemons, calamansi, and kumquats at the market with the same thought. Once I got home, I sat down and tried to think of ideas for hours! I ended up with three different dessert ideas using the various citrus which you'll see next week and the week after!
If you can't find satsumas, mandarin oranges or tangerines can also work well. The kumquats aren't totally necessary, but they make a really wonderful garnish for the cake. Plus, you can use them for garnishes for other things like drinks and cupcakes, or you can just eat them as is!
Satsuma and Dulce de Leche Layer Cake with Candied Kumquats
150 g whole eggs
75 g granulated sugar
125 g freshly squeezed satsuma juice
25 g freshly squeezed lemon juice
195 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 g gelatin sheets
Dulce de Leche
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery
138 g all-purpose flour
6 g baking powder
200 g whole eggs
112 g glucose
75 g unsalted butter
38 g whole milk
45 g lemon juice
35 g satsuma juice
7 g satsuma zest
100 g kumquats, washed
150 g sugar
150 g water
Vanilla Bean Swiss Buttercream
100 g egg whites
150 g granulated sugar
300 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 vanilla bean/ 4 g vanilla paste
To start, make the satsuma curd. Place the gelatin sheets in ice water to soften. Combine the eggs, sugar, and juices in a bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Cook the curd, whisking constantly, until thickened and the temperature is about 82 C.
Remove from the hot water bath and whisk for a minute to cool it down. Squeeze the excess water from the softened gelatin sheets and add to the curd, whisking for another minute to ensure it is dissolved. Strain the curd through a fine-mesh strainer.
Using a Vitamix or an immersion blender, blend on low speed for a few seconds, then add the butter 2 to 3 pieces at a time, blending until incorporated. Let the curd cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for 3 hours.
The curd can be used at this point or transferred to a covered container. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Next, make the dulce de leche. Remove the label from the can and place it in a large pot of water, ensuring that there is at least 2 inches of water above the can. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 2 hours, replenishing the pot with boiling water if it gets too low. If the can is not covered by water as it is cooking, there is a risk of the can exploding from the pressure.
Remove the can from the pot and let it cool completely before opening.
Make the satsuma cake. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or spray lightly with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and spray the parchment.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a medium bowl.
Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix on medium-low speed for about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and whip for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then whip on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened but it still light and airy. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand.
Meanwhile, place the glucose and butter in a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, and whisk to combine as they melt. Remove the heat and whisk in the milk, then pour into a bowl and let cool until just warm to the touch.
Whisk about one-quarter of the egg mixture into the glucose mixture. Whisk in the juices and zest. Fold in the dry ingredients into the remaining egg mixture in two additions. Fold in the glucose mixture one-qarter at a time, completely incorporating each addition before adding the next.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and, using an offset spatula, spread it in an even layer, making sure that it reaches into the corners. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, until the top is golden brown, a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, and the cake springs back when touched lightly. Set the cake on a cooling rack and cool completely.
Place a piece of parchment on a sheet pan. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake and invert it onto the parchment. Remove the silpat or parchment from the top of the cake. Using a 6 inch round cutter, cut five rounds of the cake and set aside.
For the candied kumquats, slice the kumquats into thin slices and discard the seeds. Place the kumquat slices in jars and set aside.
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour the hot syrup over the kumquat slices. Let the syrup and kumquats cool. Once they are no longer warm, they can be used right away or refrigerated for up to a week.
For the swiss buttercream, whisk together the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and place over a double boiler. Whisking constantly, warm the egg whites until the mixture is no longer gritty. Immediately transfer to the stand mixer and whip on medium-high for 4 minutes, until glossy and no longer warm.
Slowly add the butter, piece by piece, until the buttercream forms. The buttercream may look like it has split initially, but if you continue to whip, it should form a smooth, fluffy buttercream. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean or add the vanilla paste and mix for 30 seconds to combine.
To assemble, place one round of cake on a cake turntable and spread an even layer of dulce de leche. Top with a second cake round. Spread an even layer of satsuma curd, then top with a third cake round. Repeat the process with the remaining cake rounds. Refrigerate until hardened, about 30 minutes.
Do a crumb coat of the cake with the buttercream. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Mask the cake completely with the buttercream and use a small offset spatula to create the grooves in the cake. Refrigerate until hard, about 30 minutes.
Place the cake on a cake stand and decorate with candied kumquat slices and whole kumquats, plus any leaves that may have come with your satsumas (but don't eat them!).