Anyone else struggle with living in the moment? I’ve been known to get ahead of myself from time to time… It’s that long tumble down a rabbit hole where something small today triggers an anxiety that feels like the world might end tomorrow… One thing that helps me chill out and work to be present is baking. (There’s nothing like a slice of cake to help you forget your problems! And then a trip to the gym to help wash the guilt of eating the cake…)
Truth be told, I’m pretty happy with the little life I've got going. I have a slew of fantastic friends, I’m active, and I have a stellar family that’s supportive of all my wacky decisions. Baking is just one of those things that I can always count on to help me focus, forget some silly stressful event, and to just simply relax. The pure satisfaction I get out of use my hands to create a product I get to share with people is hard to put into words… I think now is a great time to apologize to my co-workers who, unfortunately (or fortunately... I guess it depends on how you look at it), have to put up with all of the baked goods that find their way into the office all too often these days!
What do you do to relax? To rejuvenate? To forget about your worries?
This week’s cake idea came from my best friend, Eden (another fantastic home baker, might I add!). We were chatting about cakes (obviously) and I was really hung up on creating something using beer. (I love beer…) Of course I wanted to use a dark beer (I LOVE dark beer…) but considering the time of year and season, maybe it wasn’t my best idea…. So in light of creating something dark and heavy, Eden suggested something dark and a little lighter – ROOT-beer.
Huh? The only root beer cake I had come across was a fun cake that Courtney had created over @Cakebycourtney (another plug for another awesome home baker!) that she had named her Root Beer Float Cake. Well, I love root beer and I love vanilla ice cream…. The rest is history. I decided to take a stab.
This beaut is made up of layers of moist root beer cake, vanilla buttercream, root beer caramel drizzle, topped with vanilla meringue and root beer meringue kisses…. It’s decadent but surprisingly not too heavy. There’s no mistaking the flavor of root beer with its amalgamation of spices and sweetness. It brings me right back to my childhood watching the foam spill right over the top of the cup as vanilla ice cream is dropped inside…. Just like the meringue on the cake.
It’s the perfect treat for a late summer afternoon.
So if you’re dealing with a stressful workweek or if something in your life has got you down, why not relax for a moment by taking a big bite out of my Root Beer Float Cake and you’ll forget all your worries…
Root Beer Float Cake
3 cups, cake flour
1 and 1/4 cups, sugar
2 sticks & 2 tbsps, unsalted butter
3 eggs & 3 egg yolks
¾ cup, root beer
2 tsps, root beer extract (can be found online or at a baking shop)
3 tsps, baking powder
¾ tsp, salt
Root Beer Caramel:
½ cup, sugar
2 tbsps, water
1/3 cup, heavy cream
3 tbsps, butter (cut into small cubes)
1 tbsp, root beer extract
Buttercream: Click Here
Meringue Topping & Kisses: Click Here
(I make a double batch of the meringue recipe - one I use to create the kisses and bake, the other I use as the “foam” topping.)
Butter, flour, and line with parchment paper4 – 6” cake pans. Preheat your oven to 350F.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Place to the side.
Lightly whisk together your eggs, root beer, and root beer extract. Place to the side
Start by creaming your butter and sugar in the stand of an electric mixer. Beat on medium high until light and fluffy.
Add your wet ingredients until just combined.
Add your sifted dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Distribute the batter evenly between your pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer stuck into the center of your cakes comes out clean.
Let cool completely before assembling or before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and placing in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.
Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once you turn the heat on, do not touch!
Once the sugar starts boiling, Slowly swirl the pan to keep the heat distributed evenly. BE CAREFUL! YOU DO NOT WANT TO GET SPLASHED!
When the sugar reaches about 320+ degrees it’ll begin to caramelize. Slowly continue swirling the pan until it evenly turns a light amber color.
Remove the pan from heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream. Watch out! It’s going to bubble frivolously! Let it do its thing…
Return the pan to heat and add the butter. Whisk until the sauce has come together!
Let cool before using.
Assembling the Cake:
Start by leveling your cakes using a serrated knife.
Place one cake upright on the center of a turntable decorating stand and add a layer of buttercream topped with a drizzle of caramel.
Continue the process for all 4 cakes. (Make sure your top layer is an upside cake...)
Since I choose to decorate this cake as a “naked cake,” I add a layer of buttercream (starting on top and working down) as my “crumb coat” and then use a straight edge to scrap the vast majority of frosting off.
Once you’ve got your naked layer, throw your cake in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes chill.
Once your cake is chilled, you want to drizzle the caramel over the top of the cake and then fill in the center using an off set spatula. Once again, you’ll want to chill your cake for a few to seal your caramel coat before finishing up.
Finally, once your caramel has set, you can use your meringue in anyway you want to decorate the top of the cake and then finish with meringue kisses, if you wish.
Some of these cakes are complicated and have quite a few steps involved, don't stress. Does the cake recipe sound good? Does the caramel sound better? Start by trying a piece of the recipe... As you get more comfortable and familiar with the processes behind these different components, you can tackle the next recipe... No rush! Mix and max what you're creating!
When you cook sugar on the stove, you want to make sure you use a deep pan so that when you add butter and cream to the mixture, it doesn’t overflow.
When you add the cream/butter to your caramel, it may seize up and harden. Just place it back on the heat and whisk until it loosens up again.
Caramel is easier than it sounds. Just have patience and try it a few times… Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be making it for all your desserts in no time. Spoon it over your favorite ice or fruit