Note - this is a halved and slightly-simplified layer cake recipe from ChelSweets.com - I highly recommend checking out her site if you haven't before; it's amazing!!
I added in a bit of coffee-bourbon flavor to this one; you could sub them out for whatever flavors you like!
(ALSO - boxed cake mixes would also work for the cake layers AND for the cupcakes if you're short on time! I recommend subbing the oil for butter, water for milk or buttermilk, and adding an extra egg!)
1 ½ cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick) room temperature
½ cup buttermilk, room temperature (or buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
2 Tablespoons bourbon extract
2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder (be sure to use powder and not granules; granules may not dissolve completely!)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two six-inch cake pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray.
Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.
Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.
Pour in eggs and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix together the buttermilk, bourbon, espresso powder, and vanilla, and pour into the mixing bowl in two installments, on a low speed. Add in oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.
Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.
Bake for 35-38 minutes (or until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.
Once the layers have fully cooled, the caramelized bits can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart.
Chocolate Cupcakes: (makes 24)
This is a doubled and slightly-modified a chocolate cupcake recipe from thescranline.com - check out Nick's site and his Instagram feed if you haven't already!
Of note...you'll need either a kitchen scale to measure ingredients in grams OR - you can use this fancy grams to cups converter. Or just use the conversions I ballparked for you. You’re welcome!
350g all purpose flour (roughly 2 ¼ c)
450g caster sugar (roughly 2 ¼ c)
100g cocoa powder (roughly 1 ¼ c)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c /250g /16 T unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs, at room temperature
350ml buttermilk (about 1 ½ ; buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
2 t vanilla extract
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180C). Line a cupcake pan with white cupcake liners.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda and sugar. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until no lumps of butter are visible and it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients.
Next, add milk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until combined. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.
Fill each paper 3/4 of the way (using a cookie/ice cream scoop to transfer the batter into the cupcake liners makes this a quick and easy process!). You may find that you have some batter left over - don't over-fill the cupcake tins or they *will* overflow and make a mess – trust me. :/ (I often bake some mini cupcakes with the leftover batter).
Bake for 20-25 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.
While you’re waiting – make your frostings!
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting: (for cake)
4 oz (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened
8 Tablespoons (one stick) butter, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1-2 Tablespoons milk
½ Tablespoon clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting: (for cupcakes)
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
5 ½ -6 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
4-6 Tablespoons milk
1 T clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with cocoa powder and milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined.
- 1 7- or 8- inch cardboard cake circle, plus one 6-inch cake circle (to measure the fondant for the top of the cake)
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
- Large piping bag and large round tip – I used the round tip from this set - one of my favorite sets so far!
- Small candy eyes (I bought a double set and used the small ones!)
- Chocolate chips and about 1 cup of chocolate ganache, if desired – there’s a lot of steps to make this cake/cupcake combo already, so you could leave this out of use melted chocolate frosting for speed/simplicity’s sake!
- About 1 pound white fondant – you can purchase this (buttercream fondant is the best-tasting one I’ve found to date, and fondarific doesn't run too expensive) or make your own!
- Ruler – for measuring fondant pieces, and to use as a straight edge for cutting them
- Small serrated knife – I used a plastic knife – to indent your fondant
- ‘Holy Crap You’re Old’ Cake topper – you can purchase this online or use a bit of cardstock and print the text from a word processor, and two toothpicks to hold it up on the cake!
Okay! You’ve made your cake, cupcakes, and frostings – the hard part’s done! All that’s left is the fun part – assembly and decorating!
Once your cake layers are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. These layers bake fairly flat though, so I didn’t trim much from the tops.
Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting. (If desired, sprinkle with a few chocolate chips and add a chocolate ganache drizzle – be sure to pipe a small dam to keep the fillings inside! The extra fillings could also be left of for simplicity’s sake). Add your second layer on top.
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.
Fondant TP Squares:
Grab your ruler and measure your cake, then cut four fondant squares to match the height of your cake. (You could do this as a single sheet, but I found squares easier to work with). Press the fondant squares against the frosting to stick them to the sides of the cake. Once you have most of the cake covered, cut your last piece about twice as long as the others – stick as much as will fit to the frosting, and let the rest hang away from the cake like the first piece of a TP roll! Indent the fondant a bit in a criss-cross pattern to resemble toilet paper!
Using your 6-inch cake circle as a guide, cut a circle to cover the top of the cake. With your large piping tip (or a bottle cap) cut a circle out of the top of the cake. Fill it in with a bit of chocolate frosting or ganache.
Note – save your fondant scraps; you’ll use them to decorate the cupcakes!
I cored my cupcakes with the plastic knife I used on the cake and filled them with chocolate ganache, but you could skip this step if desired!
Transfer your chocolate frosting into your large piping bag fitted with a round tip – pipe in swirls onto the tops of your cupcakes, lifting away at the center to resemble the poop emoji!
Press two candy eyes onto each cupcake. Take your leftover fondant scraps from the cake and with a small circle cutter or bottle cap, cut out 12 circles. Cut each one in half, and press into the frosting to make the emoji mouths.
Last final step – I used ‘Harlow Solid Italic’ in Microsoft word to print my cake topper; you could purchase a topper online or print-and-cut one like I did!
Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Pinterest or on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!