Ah, birthdays…the celebration of life. It is a time to reflect and take stock on one’s accomplishments, failures and the mysteries of the future. Of course ultimately, a birthday is a chance to channel your inner royalty, get lots of loot and stuff your greasy maw with all the cake and ice cream you can stomach (or maybe more than you can stomach).
I’m weird about my birthday. I secretly admire the people that can shamelessly promote and celebrate their birthday, sometimes for a full week or even month. Real talk: I’ve always had a hard time accepting praise so I generally don’t celebrate my birthday much at all and tend to spend the day wishing I was the kind of person that could. Boo hoo hoo. BUT, we’re not here to play therapy with Chef Scott, we’re here to make some f*cking awesome recipes. Even though I’m a weirdo about birthdays, most people aren’t, and we get lots and lots and lots of those people at the Hotel.
To help our birthday guests celebrate, we always offer a little complimentary treat to make their day extra special. Standard fair has always been a cupcake, but I wanted to create something a little different that maintained a sense of nostalgia from my own childhood. Enter: birthday entremet!
This is a really simple cake, composed of vanilla cake and vanilla cremeux with sprinkles added to create our very own funfetti! You could do this with any flavor of course, but I feel like vanilla most accurately represents the boxed cake we know and love.
This recipe calls for the use of a cake frame. This is a great and relatively cheap investment that has plenty of uses. Cake frames in general seem to be a piece of equipment that people feel aren’t necessary or not worth the time and effort to get. I’m not sure what time and effort they’re referring to, since basically anything in the world is a few clicks away, but whatevs. Get a cake frame, it’s not a big deal, doesn’t take up a lot of space and will come in handy.
This vanilla cake recipe is one of my go to base cake recipes. It’s what’s known as a hi-ratio cake, simply because the ratio of sugar to the rest of the ingredients is – you guessed it – high.
We make this cake as a full sheet at the hotel, and I’m doing the same (in a slightly smaller package) here today. Rather than pouring all of your batter into a cake frame, baking, and then cutting layers of cake, we’re going to bake off several thin, individual layers. There are a couple important reasons to do this. First, a big cake frame full of batter will take a long time to bake and because of the high level of sugar it will have a tendency to deeply brown around the crust and dry out before the center of the cake is baked. By spreading a thin layer of batter, you bake the cake in only a fraction of the time and can really control the level of baking throughout the whole layer. Second, it’s not easy to evenly cut a layer from a large sheet of cake. You lose the knife in the cake and have to rely on feel to get a decent layer, which doesn’t work very often. So an individually baked layer is ready to go as soon as it’s cooled. No cutting necessary!
We’re also making a cremeux today (say: “crem-uh”). I’ll be referring to it as a custard because that’s really the closest equivalent we have in the U.S. but technically it isn’t a custard as you may know it. Cremeux in entremet usually have a higher percentage of stabilizer (almost always gelatin) added so it holds its form in the cake. It’s a slight difference but worth mentioning in case you think we’re filling our cake with the stuff your Grandma serves for dessert when you go to her house.
There is some timing involved in putting this recipe together. Always make the cake first and allow it to cool fully, trimming it as needed before you make the custard. You want to cast your custard over the cake when it is freshly made because it will have the best texture for pouring and will set up firmly. If you allow the custard to set prior to adding it to your cake, you can smooth it to cast and it will set back up, but not as well as when it is freshly made.
birthday cake entremet
confetti vanilla cake
415g cake flour
12g baking powder
250g whole milk
275g egg whites
36g vanilla extract
350g butter unsalted
Before getting started, bring the whole milk, egg whites and butter to room temperature.
Combine the egg whites and whole milk. Combine and sift the dry ingredients.
Alternately add the wet and dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three additions. With each addition, mix the batter on medium speed for about 4-5min. This will help to aerate and develop the batter to improve rise during baking.
Fold in your sprinkles. So fun!
Spread 600g of the batter onto each half sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat (three half sheet pans total).
Bake the cake at 330F/165C for 10 – 15min., rotating the sheet pans half way through baking.
1080g heavy cream
20g vanilla extract
360g egg yolks about 18 eggs
10g gelatin 160 bloom
Hydrate the gelatin in cold water for a minimum of 5min.
Bring the heavy cream, salt and vanilla extract to a simmer in a saucepot over high heat. While the mixture is heating up, whisk the sugar and egg yolks together.
After the heavy cream comes to a simmer, add a few small additions of it to the egg yolk mixture, whisking well with each addition to warm the egg yolks (known as tempering them).
Add the egg yolk mixture to the heavy cream and put it all back on the heat.
Cook, while whisking continuously over medium heat until the mixture reaches 180F/82C.
Remove the custard from the heat and continue whisking for 30 seconds to a minute to cool the mixture and prevent it from curdling.
Squeeze out any excess water from the hydrated gelatin and add it to the custard. Whisk well until homogenized.
Divide the custard into three equal portions of 750g and keep them hot until ready to use.
Trim the cooled layers of cake to fit your cake frame. You’ll also want to gently rub the crust of the cake off. After it has cooled in the fridge overnight, it will soften and be easy (although a little sticky) to remove. This step will help the custard to adhere to the cake.
Place the cake frame onto a flat sheet pan or sheet of plexi glass line with acetate or a non-stick baking mat. Place the first sheet of cake into the frame. Most entremet I make I will build upside down, but this time around were going to build it right side up, so this first layer of cake will be the bottom of the finished entremet.
Cast the first portion of vanilla custard evenly over the pan. Instead of spreading the custard around with a spatula, I rotate the pan around and let the custard slide around to each edge of the pan. Then I give the whole thing a little shake back and forth so the custard will settle evenly.
Let the custard set up in the fridge until it’s tacky but not fully set, which usually takes around 15 minutes in the refrigerator. If the custard is too set and firm the cake layer we place on top won’t stick to it, but if the custard is still too thin then the cake we place on top will easily shift and wobble. Goldilocks that sucker and get it just right.
Lay the second sheet of cake onto the custard, pressing gently to adhere it. Man handle the cake as little as possible, because the more you try to “smooth” it onto the custard, the more wavy and wonky it will actually end up being.
Continue this layering process until you have used up the remaining cake and custard. Freeze the cake in the cake frame.
At this point the cake is built and you can decorate or cut it however you’d like. If you plan to frost it like a regular cake, you can remove it from the cake frame (I run a knife around the edge between the cake and the frame, but NOT cutting into the non-stick mat or plexi glass!) and go to work. I’m going to glaze my cake, and we have two options for that two. *The glaze recipe I’m using is down below in the recipe card.
The first option is to remove the cake from the frame and pour glaze over it, spreading it thin and even with an offset spatula. The second option is to pour the glaze onto the top of the cake while it’s still in the frame and simply rotate the cake frame around like we did with the layers of custard to spread the glaze. Both options have pros and cons, but this time around I’m going with option 2. Next time we make a sheet of entremet I’ll show you the other way to do it.
Warm the glaze a little hotter than you would normally use it (maybe around 95F/35C) and pour it over one end of the cake.
Lift the cake frame to let the glaze spread to the opposite end of the cake. If the glaze is too cool it will set and thicken before it reaches the other end, so hotter is better. Angle the cake frame toward or away from you as needed to hit all the edges and corners of the frame. Aaaaand your cake is glazed.
Coat that bad boy with sprinkles (or whatever the hell else you want to use) before the glaze sets. Throw everything into the freezer and then remove the frame to cut the cake.
Now it’s time to cut the cake, and here you have options too. You can cut this thing in any size or shape you want. I’ll show you an easy and efficient way to cake triangle cake slices.
Start by trimming the edges of the cake away, and then cut the cake down the middle lengthwise. This time around I’m not going to measure any step of this process, but I definitely do when I’m at the hotel and if this is your first time cutting in this method, it might be helpful.
Cut at a diagonal angle down the length of the cake, keeping the angle and spacing between cuts even, or even-ish. You can see I took the even-ish route. Pretty sure it will still taste like birthday cake when I’m done.
Now cut in the opposite angle, meeting the cuts with the first lines to create triangles. Math is fun! Not as fun as sprinkles, but still pretty fun.
So now you have your cut birthday entremet. If you knocked this thing out correctly, and I’m sure you did, then it should taste like an amped up version of the boxed cake we all know and love. Happy birthday!!