Happy Birthday to you if it’s your birthday because it’s not mine or anyone that I know but I made this birthday cake and it’s too dangerous to have in the house with just me because I’ll eat it it all I just made it for my food blog, A Memoir.
Yes, I know this isn’t a classic birthday cake with the fudge frosting so maybe you’re an enraged Lisa Rinna that just doesn’t understand, but Tessa Huff wrote a book called Layered and you’re encouraged to mix and match. That means I took the yellow butter cake from the classic birthday cake and ran as far as I could with it.
I’m not used to running far distances though so I made it as far as Banoffee, aka filling combo from her tiramisu banoffee cake and the classic swiss meringue buttercream that I spiked with dulce de leche.
Of course, you could go the classic route with fudge frosting, My girl Adrianna has you covered, but I like the idea of sort of switching it up. You could even go splitsies and use the fudge frosting because bananas and dulce de leche are also lovers with the chocolate.
That’s the thing that I love about Tessa’s book though, it’s all so approachable and the idea that you can mix and match is so great because there’s already 40 great cakes that could probably now be like 5,000 or a smaller number if I was better at math.
I’ve been a long time fan of Tessa’s amazing instagram and blog so as soon as I saw she was making a book it was an instant yas please show me your ways. The book not only has a bunch of beautiful and creative cakes but also carries a whole bunch of techniques for decorating ranging from ambitious to super simple for lazy/incapable bitches like me.
If you know of anyone that likes baking buy them this book, then bookmark all the cakes you’d suggest for your birthday or just a regular thursday where we need the cakes to make it through to Friday.
Banoffee Birthday Cake
I know you’re maybe going omg this is so much to do but really, it’s pretty simple. The cake layers can easily be made a few days ahead and wrapped and refrigerated and the whole cake can be assembled the day before and refrigerated. The cake and buttercream protect the bananas from turning to mush.
For the Yellow Butter Cake:
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups white granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 large egg yolks (save the whites for the buttercream)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
For the Dulce De Leche Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons large egg whites (from about 5 egg whites (from the cake)/for easy measuring, leave the egg whites from the cake out on the counter covered with plastic wrap to bring them to room temp for a couple hours.
1 1/4 white granulated sugar
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed up, room temp, leave out when you make the cake so it’ll be nice and soft when you need to use it
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup dulce de leche
3 large bananas, sliced in 1/4″ or so slices
1/2 cup dulce de leche, lightly warmed up
Part I: The Cake
Preheat the oven to 350* and grease and line 3 8″ cake pans with parchment circles.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light, fluffy, and pale in color, about 3 minutes. With the mixer running on medium speed add the egg yolks one at a time (separate the yolks and whites into some drinking glasses for easy pouring and making sure you’re not using up your measuring cup). Once the egg yolks are in there, add the dry mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the milk (1/3 of the dry, then half the milk, then 1/3 of the dry, then rest of the milk, then finally the rest of the dry) mixing just until everything’s combined.
Scoop and level out the batter evenly between the three pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. If your oven has cold or hot spots it might be best to cook two of the layers then the third one by itself, checking in on it a couple minutes early.
Once the cakes are baked, let them cool in the pans for 15 minutes then carefully invert them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Part II: The Buttercream
Fill a saucepan with an inch or so of water and bring to a simmer. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk together to combine. Set the bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water.
Heat up the egg whites and sugar, whisking occasionally until the mixture reaches 160*, if you don’t have a thermometer just heat until the mixture is hot to the touch and sugar’s dissolved. Carefully move the bowl to the stand mixer and use the whisk attachment to beat the mixture on high speed for 8-10 minutes, until you get medium stiff peaks and the bottom outside of the bowl is no longer warm and back down to room temp.
Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides, and swap in the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed add the butter a few cubes at a time, then add the vanilla and beat on high speed until smooth for 3-5 minutes. Once smooth go ahead andd the dulce de leche and beat on high just until that’s incorporated.
Part III: Building This Bad Boy
I go the all natural route with this bad boy in building which means straight up on the cake stand no turntable thing just me and an offset spatula, memoir title pending, and it works just fine to get this simple cake. The cool thing about birthday cakes is you can go simply and just use birthday candles and save yourself a lot of stress.
So to go for it, lay down 4 strips around the outside edge of the cake so that when the first layer is placed there’s no visible cake stand around said cake layer. This makes sure we can just frost away, then remove the parchment strips and have a clean cake stand. We’re trying to convince people we know what we’re doing.
Place down the first layer and spread about 1/4 cup of the swiss meringue all over the layer with an offset spatula. Top that with half the bananas then sort of dollop on a 1/4 cup of the dulce de leche then spread that around carefully over the bananas. If you want extra buttercream, then spread 1/4 cup on the bottom of the next layer before placing it on top of the banana dulce filling.
After you place the second layer go ahead and repeat all of that, then top with the third layer. Now we have a completely naked cake. Take the swiss meringue buttercream and spread that all over the cake in a nice thin layer, making sure to cover the cake completely and that you don’t put a dirty offset spatula back in the buttercream, contaminating it with crumbs.
Once you have the thin layer on place the cake in the fridge for about 15 minutes for the buttercream to set. This is a crumb coat so the rest of the buttercream can easily go on and not pick up any crumbs.
After the 15 minutes go ahead and take the cake out of the fridge and frost away. Plop a generous amount of buttercream onto the top of the cake and spread it out, letting the extra sort of hang over the edge of the cake. Start to spread the overhang of frosting, and apply more and spread it out, working from the top of the cake towards the bottom, applying the frosting and spreading it out wherever it’s needed. Tessa has a great tip too for using your offset spatula, guiding the buttercream with the center of the spatula instead of the tip.
Put yourself in a zen mode now and don’t think about it too much. Just apply the buttercream and spread. Tessa has a bunch of great techniques in the book to show you how to finish cakes perfectly, and I just chose this simple spread out and be semi-rustic. We got candles so we be good.