pink champagne cake

January 1, 2019 Portland, OR, USA


Happy Birthday to 2019! I hope everybody had a wonderful New Year's Eve. Ours was pretty chill. Erlend and I are not really the type to go out on New Year's Eve; instead, we sat at home and drank these French 75ish cocktails I made for Crate and Barrel, ate Molly's classic tater tot hotdish with this pink champagne cake for dessert, and watched several depressing episodes of Black Mirror. How do I live this rock and roll lifestyle, I know, I know.


Now let's talk about this cake — I initially had this massive plan to turn all of my New Year's resolutions intentions into #drakeoncake style champagne sheet cakes, but for some reason, I couldn't get any of them to look good. It turns out that Joy has a special skill that I do not have, OH WELL. After about Cake Number 3 (there were 4 total, sigh), I threw down the towel and decided to make a layer cake, the kind that you guys loved so much last year. This layer cake is made with a white cake from one of my favorite cookbooks of last year, Rose's Baking Basics, and a classic cream cheese frosting adapted from my upcoming cookbook, both with a twist: they're spiked with a heavy dose of pink and champagne extract (ACTUALLY, I believe I used sparkling wine extract, because I guess LorAnn Oils knows that you can only call it champagne if it comes from the French region Champagne 😂).


To be honest, I'm not sure how much like champagne the extract actually tasted like; I thought it tasted like concord grape, whereas Erlend thought it tasted like strawberry ice cream. His coworkers who ate the rest of the cake definitely tasted the champagne though, so there's that. If you're looking for a more legit champagne flavor, I suggest taking 2 1/2 cups of champagne (pink or regular) and boiling it down until you have a 1/4 cup to use in both the cake and frosting — although I did this for the resolution sheet cakes, I didn't write this process as part of the layer cake's recipe because making your own champagne extract takes a decent chunk of time and I was trying to make everybody's life easier by using extract instead. Because that's actually one of my resolutions intentions goals for 2019: to make recipes that you guys will actually make. Happy New Year, y'all!


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Some baker's notes:
  • Champagne extract is available online via Amazon; I used the LorAnn Oils variety (which I mentioned in the post is "sparkling wine" flavored as opposed to actual champagne) because I have several of their other extracts and know it's good quality, but it looks like you can get "real" champagne extract too for steeper prices

  • For this cake recipe, it's REALLY important that all the ingredients are at room temperature before beating them together — if either the butter, milk, or eggs are on the colder side (or worse, straight from the fridge), the batter has a tendency to curdle and separate once the last of the eggs and milk are added in. To make extra sure that everything was at the right temperature, I stuck the butter, milk, and eggs in the microwave and blitzed each ingredient on low for around 10 seconds or so.

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dessert
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Yield: an 8-inch, 3-layer cakePin it

Pink Champagne Cake

ingredients:

For the Champagne Cake
  • 3 1/2 cups (14 ounces) cake flour
  • 2 cups (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 large egg whites (6.35 ounces), at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) whole milk, at room temperature and divided into 1 cup and 1/2 cup portions
  • 1 tablespoon champagne or sparkling wine extract

For the Pink Champagne Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 5 cups (20 ounces) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons champagne or sparkling wine extract
  • pink food coloring

instructions:

For the Champagne Cake
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F). Prepare three 8-inch cake pans by spraying the bottom of each pan with cooking spray and line the bottom of each pan with a parchment paper circle; spray the parchment paper as well and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 3 1/2 cups cake flour, 2 cups granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Beat on low speed until combined. 
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add 1 cup unsalted butter to the dry ingredients, a few cubes at a time, mixing until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Slowly pour in 1 cup whole milk. Once the milk has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes, stopping the mixer every so often and using a rubber spatula to scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl.
  4. While the ingredients are beating, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup whole milk, 6 large eggs, and 1 tablespoon extract. Return to the mixer and reduce the mixer speed to medium low. Gradually add the egg white mixture in three parts, beating on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients.  Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared cake pans, using an offset spatula to smooth the batter evenly across each pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake skewer inserted into the center of each pan comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. 

For the Pink Champagne Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 1/2 cups cream cheese and 1 cup unsalted butter. Beat on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to its slowest setting and gradually add 5 cups confectioners' sugar and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Once the confectioners' sugar is added, use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add 2 tablespoons whole milk, 2 teaspoons extract, and pink food coloring. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, before turning the mixer speed to medium-high and beating until creamy and completely pink, about 3 more minutes. 

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