(the inside looked pretty good at least!)
I know better than to frost a cake without chilling it long enough, especially when I plan to frost it with cream cheese frosting... especially when that frosting hasn't chilled long enough... but life gets in the way, and I do things that I shouldn't. In the grand scheme of things, frosting a cake too early isn't really so bad on the list of things that I could do but should not, right? It does, however, result in a leaning tower of cake which makes me panic and scramble to see what I can do to make it look a little better. I made this cake right before Thanksgiving, and thought seriously about not sharing it with you since it's not the prettiest cake on the block, but it's so yummy that not sharing the recipe would just add to the list of things I did wrong here.
Seriously, cream cheese frosting is slippery! These cake layers are rather large. Not a good combination unless both cake and frosting are nice and chill(ed).
For the cake: (adapted from Martha)
3 sticks butter
3 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
7 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 cup poppy seeds
Spray three 8" cake pans with baking spray. Line with parchment paper; spray again.
Place two racks in the center of the oven; preheat the oven to 350F.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together thoroughly; set aside.
Cream the butter on low-medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, and keep beating for another 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Drizzle in eggs in 4-5 additions, beating in between. This should take another 4-5 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
Add the flour mixture (in 3 additions) on low speed, alternating with the milk (in two additions). Just beat until combined. Stir in the zest and poppy seeds.
Divide the batter evenly between the three pans, and drop from a height of 4" to get rid of air bubbles.
Bake for 25 minutes; rotate pans for even baking. Bake another 10-15 minutes until the toothpick just comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes in pan, then turn out onto cooling racks and cool completely. Cut off domed tops if necessary. If not frosting immediately, refrigerate overnight or freeze for up to 2 months.
For the cream cheese frosting: (also Martha)
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature2 teaspoons vanilla
2 sticks butter, room temperature, in small pieces
3-4 cups powdered sugar
Beat cream cheese on medium speed for several minutes, until creamy. It's hard to get out all the lumps, but keep beating!
Gradually add butter while beating on medium speed. This will take several minutes. Turn up to high speed for 30-60 seconds; frosting should be smooth.
On low speed, add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. If the frosting is stiff enough to pipe, you can use it now, but depending on the temperature in your kitchen, you may want to refrigerate it before using.
If it's too stiff after refrigeration, just mix again for 30 seconds or so.
Cake notes: I like this cake more than the poppy seed cake I made in October. This one is moister, and I like the lemon. It's also a very sturdy cake, though it is heavy... heavy enough to slide all over the cream cheese frosting if it's at all warm. It freezes really well.
I often serve this cake with cream cheese frosting filling in between the layers, but without frosting the outside (and without the almonds, though you could sprinkle them on top or in between the layers). It still looks good, and it's a whole lot quicker to put together.
Assemble the cake:
Toast about 1 cup of slivered or coarsely ground almonds in the oven at 325F for about 10 minutes or until just brown. Let cool.
Place one layer on the serving plate or a cardboard cake round. Spread frosting over the cake layer. Place the second layer on top, and cover that with frosting. Place the last layer on top, and frost the top and sides of cake. Gently press slivered almonds over the entire outer edge of the cake. Alternatively, you can do almonds on top of the cake and in a 1" border along the bottom outer edge of cake.
My attempt at fixing the cake... look closely and you'll see a bulge of cream cheese frosting and a bare spot in the nuts from the cake sliding. Oh well... my friend told me it looked homemade. He didn't mean it as an insult, but I wasn't so happy. :)
This is actually carrot cake, but the picture gives you a better idea of what this cake should look like from the outside!