When I first visited - or, I should say, made the trek out to - Baked in Red Hook on my birthday in November 2012, my boyfriend Jake and I were fortunate to spend a good 15 minutes or so sitting and chatting with Matt Lewis over coffee and a few amazing Baked treats. I think this was probably the best birthday gift I could have received that day. Matt was exceptionally kind, courteous, and fun, and all of the yummy goodies I ate, paired with outstanding strong-brewed coffee, were incredible. Needless to say, I had ecstatically reached my baking mecca and with the treats and company, it truly felt like home.
Perhaps the one dessert I sampled that stood out the most for me was a piece of cake which Matt - after asking if I liked chocolate and mint (DO I? Um, YES, of course! Do monkeys like bananas?) - pressed upon me to try. No arguments here! It was a cake "in development" which they called the Wintermint Cake: a decadent 3-layer affair of deep, dark, moist chocolate cake, dark chocolate mint ganache, and a buttery, ethereal mint buttercream tying it all together. It was heavenly. One bite, and I was in love.
As it was still relatively new for them, Baked did not share the recipe for the Wintermint Cake until a month later, when it popped up on the Sweet Paul website. I promptly printed it off, as I knew I had to have this recipe for the holidays. I made the cake for my family for Christmas 2012 and 2013 to high praise, and was thrilled to see it finally make its glorious appearance in Baked's new book, Baked Occasions, in celebration of - what else? - the winter soulstice. (I still like to claim it as a slightly-late birthday cake of sorts for myself!)
There are a few steps to making this cake, so it may seem a touch difficult, but the payoff is definitely worth it. The chocolate cake is light and moist, thanks to sour cream in the batter, and intense in chocolate flavor from dark cocoa. The crumb is very delicate and tender, so handle it carefully once it is baked and cooled. As you assemble the three layers, you will slather a wonderful mint chocolate ganache on top of each, followed by a layer of fluffy white mint buttercream. Finally, the cake is encased entirely in that delicious mint buttercream. The buttercream is Baked's standard recipe. If you're new to it, bear in mind that you may need to endure a little trial and error, as it can be tricky. I've made it enough myself by now to master it pretty well. Make sure the cooked cream and milk mixture is truly beaten in your mixer to room temp, or slightly cooler, before you add your butter, and the butter should be cold, but slightly soft, and cut into small cubes before you add it. After you add that butter, don't be afraid to whip the hell out of the frosting. It's going to look curdled if you're too delicate. Whipping it up incorporates air into it and makes it nice, fluffy, and easily spreadable.
I chose not to ice the cake ombré-style, as it is in the book and the recipe link. It's beautiful as such, but - for one thing - I'm not quite sure the buttercream recipe would make enough for this. If you attempt the ombré, you may want to make 1.5 worth of the recipe, as I usually find that I have barely enough to just ice the cake as it is. Second, I usually don't feel like getting too fussy with something that is really quite beautiful left white and frosty-looking, decorated on top with some fun holiday nonpareils, crushed peppermint stick or candy cane, and/or sprinkles. Last year and this year, I followed Baked's early lead with decoration, simply dusting the top edge of the cake with some edible pearl beads and snowflake sprinkles. Quite pretty and festive!
I am very grateful to Matt Lewis for introducing me to what is quite possibly one of my favorite Baked layer cakes to make - and eat!
To create your own splendid Wintermint Cake for the holidays, or any time of the year, simply click on the name for the recipe link. Check out Leave Your Links: Wintermint Cake to feast your eyes on the beauties made by my fellow talented BSM bakers.
I wish all of you a most wonderful and blessed holiday season... May you enjoy the best of times with family and friends, and most importantly: may you eat many fabulous baked goods and desserts! See you in 2015!
Next up in Baked Occasions: Hair of the Dog Cake - January 4, 2015