Today is A.’s birthday!

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And to celebrate, I made him a birthday cake. A. doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but one of his favourite desserts when he eats them is banana-nutella crêpes. It’s hard to turn down that banana-y, chocolatey, hazelnutty goodness, and I tried to emulate that experience in cake form.

The cake is a basic vanilla cake using brown sugar. The filling in the layers is made of banana slices, pastry cream, and crumbled dark chocolate bits that I had left over from the last cake I made.

The buttercream is just a regular recipe with a bit of cocoa powder and a whole jar of Nutella blended in. If you love Nutella (who doesn’t), then you’ll be a big fan of it in buttercream format.

If you want something to break up the intense chocolateyness, serve with vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream. If you want even more chocolateyness, use a chocolate cake and put buttercream between the layers.

Nutella Buttercream

Makes a whole heck of a lot of buttercream.

  • 1 725g jar Nutella
  • 1 1/2 lbs butter, just colder than room temp
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  1. Cream butter and cocoa powder together using a wooden spoon or paddle attachment on stand mixer.
  2. Add in Nutella, and beat until fluffly.
  3. Add icing sugar by the 1/2 or 1/4 cup, while beating, until desired consistency is reached.

 

Brown Sugar Vanilla Cake adapted from James Peterson’s Baking

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (subtract 1 tablespoon per cup for all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 7/8 cup (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) butter, sliced

Preheat oven to 350F

  1. In a large bowl, with beaters, or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, 1/2 a cup of the milk, and the vanilla.
  3. Add the butter and remaining milk to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-low for about 2 minutes, or until everything’s combined.
  4. Add 1/4 of the egg mixture, and beat till smooth.
  5. Continue adding egg mixture in quarters, beating batter till smooth between additions.
  6. Evenly pour batter into two buttered and flours cake pans.
  7. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Completely cool the cakes before taking them out of the cake pans, and gently slice them in half, so you have 4 total layers.

Pastry Cream

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  1. Bring milk and vanilla to a simmer in a saucepan.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar, yolks and cornstarch together in a large bowl.
  3. Pour half of the hot milk into the bowl and whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
  5. The moment the mixture starts to thicken, remove it from the heat and keep whisking.
  6. Cool to room temp, or stick it in the fridge with cling wrap pressed onto the surface to avoid pudding skin.

Extras

Sliced bananas, crushed chocolate, nuts, or whipped cream. Whatevs.

Assembly

Spread about 1/2 cup of pastry cream on your first cake layer. Sprinkle on chocolate bits, and then layer banana slices over top. Place 2nd cake layer on top.
Repeat process for all of your layers, except for the top of the cake.
Create a cumb coat: carefully spread some (room temp, or slightly warmed) buttercream over the whole thing, smoothing it down with an offset spatula.
Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight, to set your crumb coat.
After cake is chilled, gently spread remaining (slightly warmed) buttercream over the cake, and smooth. Decorate to your heart’s content!

Happy birthday, A.! ♥

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