- 16 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature (60-65°F)
- 16 ounces granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste, or 2 tsp vanilla extract or 2/3 of a vanilla bean
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 13 ounces cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- Pastry Cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- ¼ cup granulated sugar, divided (50g)
- kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch, (30g)
- 4-½ large egg yolks
- 1 ounce butter, cubed (28g)
- 1-½ tablespoons vanilla paste, or equal amt extract, or 1-1/2 vanilla beans
1. Pastry Cream: Set up a medium bowl in an ice bath, set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, 2 tablespoons (25 g) of granulated sugar, and a pinch of kosher salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Once the milk has come to a boil, reduce heat to low. Add the egg yolks to the sugar/cornstarch mixture and whisk thoroughly to combine. Slowly whisk some of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks to temper them. Whisking constantly, pour the the tempered egg yolks into the hot milk mixture and cook over low heat until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla paste. Transfer the pastry cream to ice bath and immediately press a piece of plastic wrap touching the top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool for a bit in the ice bath before transferring pastry cream to the refrigerator. You can make this in advance.
2. Cake: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter an 8-inch springform pan (it should be at least 2.5-3 inches tall), line the bottom with parchment and then butter the parchment. Flour the pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl thoroughly every minute or so. Add the vanilla paste and mix to incorporate. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl and beating well after each addition. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the mixer and beat on low speed until just until combined.
3. Building The Cake: Using a pastry/piping bag (or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off) pipe an inch-thick disc of batter at the bottom of your cake pan. Then, pipe a ring of batter on top of that layer, along the inside perimeter of the pan. You are creating a small trough to hold the pastry cream. Pipe pastry cream into the space you’ve created (use as much pastry cream as you need to fill hole, it seemed like 1-1.5 cups), keeping it level with the ring of batter (see photo for illustration of this step). Pipe another disk of batter on top the whole thing, sealing the pastry cream into the cake (you might not use all of the batter, just use what you need for your pan). Use damp hands to gently smooth down the top of the batter.
Bake the cake until it is a deep golden brown and thoroughly set. This will probably take around an hour, though mine stayed in for 75 minutes or so. If the top is getting too dark, you can cover it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. There is so much fat in this recipe, that you do not need to worry about it drying out, err on the side of a longer cooking time.
* I have several cakes pans that all claim to be 8-inches. I measured them and they range from 7.5-8.25. That being said, you may use more or less batter depending on the size of your pan. Just make sure you give yourself at least 1/2-inch of room at the top of the pan because this cake is a riser.
**Do not open your oven door while this is baking, at least not for the first 50 minutes. I wrapped the bottom of my springform pan in foil, to catch any butter that might try to escape.
* Bake this dark! Don’t pull the cake too soon!
* The cake keeps well, I was still happily eating slices a few days later. Keep it in the fridge and bring to room temperature, or warm it up slightly, before serving.