Those who live at high elevation are well acquainted with the baking challenges that come with it, from deflated cakes to overflowing batters to overly salty breads.
We wanted to create a fresh new cookbook for altitude baking for both sweet and savory recipes. When we took one look at the recipes and the mouthwatering photos in Nicole Hampton’s blog, Dough-Eyed, we were in love.
Nicole shares tips and tricks learned from personal experience from her kitchen in the heights of Colorado in her upcoming cookbook, Sugar High, including this to-die-for strawberries and cream cake. Enjoy!
(Cake photo credit: Nicole Hampton.)
Nicole Hampton’s STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM CAKE
Strawberries and cream are too much of a classic to skip. But you can swap out the strawberry preserves that flavor the cake for any other preserves you prefer—blackberry, peach, even orange marmalade. Get fancy with it, guys!
Makes 8 TO 10 servings, as a 3-layer or 2-layer cake
FOR THE FILLING
4 teaspoons powdered unflavored
1 tablespoon cold water
3 egg yolks
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1⁄3 cup heavy cream
3⁄4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE CAKE
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
11 ⁄4 cups granulated sugar
1⁄2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 cup heavy cream
For the filling: In a small dish, mix together the gelatin and cold water. Set aside. In a small heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and granulated sugar until thick and pale. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, and vanilla. Heat until boiling. Whisking continuously, pour about 1 cup of the hot liquid into the egg yolk mixture. Then, pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining hot milk, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick. Remove from the heat, then whisk in the gelatin mixture, continuing to whisk until it is completely incorporated. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until it is completely chilled.
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease and flour three 6-inch or two 8-inch round cake pans. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Add the cake flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix until combined. Pour in the heavy cream and continue to mix until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, spreading the tops evenly. Bake the cakes until a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes for 6-inch cakes, and 35 to 40 minutes for 8-inch cakes. Let cool completely in the pans on wire racks before removing.
FOR THE FROSTING
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
3⁄4 cup strawberry preserves
1 ⁄8 teaspoon salt
1 ⁄4 cup heavy cream
Red food coloring, if desired
White sprinkles for garnish (optional)
For the frosting: In a bowl, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add 1⁄2 cup of the strawberry preserves and the salt, and beat until smooth. Add the heavy cream, and beat until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. If desired, add a few drops of red food coloring to adjust the color of the frosting to your liking. Put the frosting in a piping bag with a plain tip.
To assemble, use a serrated knife to trim each cake layer so that it is flat. For a 3-layer cake, spread 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves in a thin, even layer on a cake layer. Then pipe a small ring of the pink frosting around the edges of the layer. Use a small offset spatula to spread the center with about 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 cup of the cream filling. Place a second cake layer on top of the filled first layer, lining up the edges. Repeat the filling steps as for the first layer. Top with the last layer, lining up the edges.
For a 2-layer cake, follow the instructions for a 3-layer cake, using 1⁄4 cup preserves and 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 cup of the filling. When the layers are assembled, go ahead and frost and decorate the cake as desired. I like to pipe most of the frosting onto the top and sides of the cake, then use a cake spatula to smooth it all out to create a clean look. Sometimes I’ll use a star pastry tip to pipe some fancy rosettes and decorate with sprinkles too.
“It’s a bummer that baking at altitude requires so much trial and error. You put something in the oven, tasting great and looking right, and then your oven pulls some kind of mean magic trick in there. The good news is that baking is a science, and high-altitude baking has solutions. I’m here to show them to you.” –Nicole Hampton (More recipes and videos @dough_eyed on Instagram and Facebook.)