Yellow Cake with Chocolate Filling and Salted Caramel Buttercream. Oh yeah.

Remember the nest? The chocolate nest? I made it for the top of a cake but neglected to get any photos of the cake. A good blogger would never make this mistake.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Filling and Salted Caramel Buttercream

It's ok, though, because as soon as I ate a bite I thought, "I have to make this when Jack comes home!" And I did.

[Note: I also wrote "Welcome Home" in the ugliest possible handwriting, so my photos are trying to conceal that fact. I just told you, so that kind of defeats the purpose, but I wanted to give you full disclosure.]

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Filling and Salted Caramel Buttercream |

The cake is a classic yellow cake. It's my go-to yellow cake. Adapted just a tad from Cake Ladies (a great book). It's a triple-layer cake that's filled with chocolate frosting and covered in salted caramel buttercream. (Adapted from SprinkleBakes.)

Making a cake for an event like I did the first time I made this cake always makes me nervous. What if it's terrible and I won't realize until I've served it to everyone? Also, my mom taught me what I've found to be an "entertaining truth" (truth about entertaining?)...nothing ever tastes as good to you if you're serving it to company. Same holds true if you're taking it to an event.

EXCEPT...this cake is dreamy. DREAMY! Two of the men at our table asked for a second slice. Nothing makes me happier.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Filling and Salted Caramel Buttercream |

Please don't feel obligated to use as much filling as I did. I second-guess myself when filling cake layers and sometimes end up with too much. Is too much a thing? Maybe not.

My secret to the salted caramel frosting is this: I use fleur de sel...not as a finishing salt, but actually in the frosting. I think that makes it extra delicious.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Filling and Salted Caramel Buttercream |

Oh, and don't worry if you burn the caramel the first time you make it. I do it EVERY TIME. Actually, it's part of my planning process now. "OK...I'll burn the first batch of caramel, so that's 10 minutes. Clean and dry the pan, that's another 3, and start again."

Let's make it!

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Filling and Salted Caramel Buttercream
(makes one 3-layer cake)

for the cake:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened +more for the pans
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated and room temperature
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 TBSP vanilla extract

for the filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
1 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups powdered sugar
6-8 TBSP milk

for the frosting:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel (or other sea salt)
3 - 4 cups powdered sugar

make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Cut a circle of parchment to fit inside the bottom of each pan. Place in the pans; butter the parchment. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition. Once all yolks have been added, beat the mixture for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. In a large measuring cup, stir together the milk, buttermilk, and vanilla.

Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix on low speed, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed.

In another bowl, use a whisk attachment to whip the egg whites until they hold a stiff peak. In three additions, fold the whipped whites into the batter.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 24-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire cooling racks.

make the filling:
Beat the butter until fluffy. Add the cocoa and beat until combined. Mix in the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating on low speed, and alternating with the milk. Once combined, increase the speed to medium and beat until thick and fluffy.
(More milk or powdered sugar may be added to adjust consistency.)

Even out the tops of the cakes if needed. Place bottom layer top side down on a cake plate. Top with about 1 cup of frosting. Smooth almost to the edges. Repeat. Save any remaining frosting for decorative piping.

Refrigerate the cake while you make the frosting.

make the frosting:
Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir and heat over medium-high. Bring to a boil and cook without stirring until the mixture turns amber. (I go for a light to medium amber here, as any darker, and I burn it.)

While that is cooking, stir the vanilla and cream together. Once the sugar is an amber color, remove from the heat and slowly stir in the vanilla cream. Stir until smooth.

Let the caramel cool at room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Beat the butter and salt together until combined and fluffy. On low speed, add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Taste after the third cup to see if you'd like it sweeter. If so, add the 4th cup. Once combined, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat on medium until well-combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the cooled caramel. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for a few minutes until light and fluffy.

Frost the cake with a very thin layer of frosting (a crumb coat) and return to the fridge for about an hour. Once set, frost the cake with a thicker layer of frosting.

Place the remaining chocolate frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe a decorative border around the edge.

Store the cake in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature before really does taste best that way.

(cake adapted from Cake Ladies, salted caramel buttercream adapted from SprinkleBakes.)

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Filling and Salted Caramel Buttercream |

Happy cake baking! 

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