Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Brown Butter Layer Cake with Bacon and Maple Buttercream

Here's a little math problem for you:

Brown Butter + Bacon + Maple = ??? 

I'll give you a hint...you won't regret it.

This weekend was my uncle's birthday and we celebrated with a dinner but I decided that I would also surprise him at work on Monday with a cake. If you knew my uncle, you would know that he LOVES bacon. I'm not just talking about liking to eat the occasional piece for breakfast. He loves everything bacon. Bacon candy, bacon popcorn, bacon jam, bacon seasoning. If it has bacon in it, he will like it.

What better way to honor his love for bacon than to incorporate it into a cake? 

I warn you now that this isn't a quick or simple recipe. And it definitely isn't a healthy one either. If you want fast and easy, I would suggest my delicious chocolate nutella mug cake and if you want healthy then maybe try a fruit salad.

For those of you that want a recipe of pure bacon-y heaven, read on...


Brown Butter Cake:
I used this recipe from Food & Wine Magazine as the foundation for my cake. You'll need:
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the recipe called for 1 vanilla bean split but I didn't have any so I substituted)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, room temp
Bacon Filling:
  • 1 package bacon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
Maple Buttercream:
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat from the bacon filling
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered/icing/confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
This should be enough to make 2 tiny 3-layered cakes or one 2-layered 9-inch cake.

To start off, you need to brown your butter. Place you three sticks of butter in a sauce pan and melt it over a medium heat. After about 5 minutes, the melted butter will become foamy and the milk solids with separate to the top. Continue stirring the melted butter until the butter turns brown and there is a nutty aroma.

You'll know its done when you see brown specs floating in the white foam. I warn you that this will smell like buttery caramel. You'll want to taste it but don't. Trust me, eating pure butter isn't very pleasant.

Pour the brown butter into a heatproof bowl. I browned my butter in the morning and then ran a bunch of errands while it cooled. If you're not the type of person who plans ahead or are just plain impatient, sit the bowl of brown butter into an ice bath to cool down while you proceed with the next steps.

Time to make the candied bacon filling. Yes you read it correctly, CANDIED BACON. This is pretty simple. Set your oven to 400F/200C. While your oven heats up, coat each slice of bacon with the brown sugar and place it on a wire rack over a cookie sheet. The cookie sheet will collect all of the fat drippings and sugar so it won't end up stuck to the bottom of your oven. 

Doesn't that look amazing?!?! Too bad raw bacon isn't good for you. While these bad boys bake for about 15 minutes, depending on how crispy you like it, it's time to start on the cake batter.

By now the brown butter should be cooled and started to solidify. If not, let it sit in the ice bath for a little bit longer while in you mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate, large bowl, add in the brown butter.

Now I know this doesn't look very pretty but trust me, it'll all taste and look great once the cake is done. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until it's creamy. Then add the sugar and vanilla extract and continue beating until fluffy. Once fluffy, add in one egg yolk at a time while beating then add the whole eggs. Finally, alternate in thirds of adding the dry flour mixture and the milk. Don't forget to scrape the sides of the bowl to help incorporate everything.

By now your bacon should be done, remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool. Set your oven to 325F/160C. Time to prep your baking pans. I used these small 6-in pans from Wilton. You will want to grease each pan then dust them with flour before pouring in your batter.

Place them in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. If 25 minutes isn't enough time, bake for another 5 minutes then check every 2 minutes. If you do bake for a longer time, make sure you keep an eye out so that the cakes don't burn.

While these cakes cool on a wire rack, it's time to go back to the candied bacon you set aside to cool. You thought I forgot about these didn't you? Well don't worry, I definitely haven't forgotten about it. Now you'll want to dice up the bacon into small pieces and set aside in a bowl.

Candied. Bacon. Mountain. Enough said. 

Resist the urge to eat it all because now we have to make the maple buttercream.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening and bacon fat together until pale and fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar and gently incorporate it with a spatula. You can use the beater right away but then you'll breath in a giant sugar cloud from the powder sugar. Once the powdered sugar is fully incorporated into the butter, add in the maple syrup, pinch of salt, and vanilla. You can also add in a tablespoon of whiskey or bourbon for an added kick. (I would have but I'm currently out D: ) Use the mixer and beat together. You'll end up with a perfectly smooth frosting.

Now that everything is baked, time to assemble. Even out the tops of your cake with a serrated knife so that they will easily sit on top of each other. Put a dollop of the icing on the first layer, spread it out, sprinkle on the candied bacon, and repeat until all layers are done. TIP: place pieces of parchment paper along and under the outside edges of the cake for easy clean up afterwards.

You'll want to cover your cake in a light layer of frosting to form a "crumb layer". It'll trap all the crumbs from appearing in your final presentation. After the crumb layer, place the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes for the fridge for 30 minutes to let the icing harden. It'll make frosting easier later. After the icing is harden, ice the cake to your heart's content. 

Viola! You have now made a brown butter cake with a bacon filling and maple buttercream. Man that was a mouthful, I think I'll need a new name for this cake. 

Just look at that bacon peeping out between the layers of cake! 

This is the perfect combination of savory and sweet.  Definitely a new favorite with the birthday boy. 

What do you think of savory and sweet combinations? Genius or nuts?


  1. Replies
    1. It's delicious! Especially if you love a sweet and savory combo :)

  2. It's delicious! Especially if you love a sweet and savory combo :)