French Toast Layer Cake
I really love making creative cakes. You can make a beautiful cake and people will say, “Oh, it’s so pretty!” I love making cakes that make people say, “Wow, that’s so cool!” Or, “Holy crap that’s awesome!” And, of course, it has to be totally delicious too. So when I saw a picture of a French Toast Layer Cake I instantly saved it in my “to do - cakes” file.
I adapted it quite a bit from its original, the main change being a new cake recipe. Rose Levy Beranbaum is the queen of cakes, and for good reason. When I discovered her Sour Cream Butter Cake, I realized there was likely no need to ever make a different yellow cake again - that’s the cake I’m using here. It’s a strange method, but it produces undeniably delicious results.
Then I made the cake. Then I tasted the cake. Then I realized that as catchy as the name “French Toast Layer Cake” is, really what this cake is is a cinnamon roll cake disguised to look like pancakes. It’s awesome, and packs a serious cinnamon-maple-gooey-sugary punch.
For anyone playful who loves cinnamon, maple, and sugar (a whole boatload of sugar), this cake would be perfect.
Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum & Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
1/2 cup cinnamon chips (Hershey’s is often found in supermarket chains)
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons FAKE maple syrup (do not use real syrup, it’s not thick enough!)
8 egg yolks*
1 cup & 1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
3.33 cups cake flour (400g)
2 cups sugar (400g)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 sticks butter, soft but slightly cold
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 sticks salted butter, room temp
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons maple extract (again, not syrup!)
4 cups powdered sugar
drop of pale yellow food color
1/2 cup maple syrup (optional)
2 9” round cake pans
Tin foil, potentially
Small cookie/ice cream scoop
*What the heck are you going to do with 8 leftover egg whites? Here are some great ideas:
Start by making the cinnamon ganache, so that it has time to cool completely before you put it on your cake. Microwave your cinnamon chips for 30 seconds, then microwave your heavy cream until steaming hot, but not bubbling.
Pour the hot heavy cream over your cinnamon chips, and let sit for 2 minutes. Stir gently until the mixture is homogenous, then stir in 3TB of your fake maple syrup, and set aside to cool & thicken.
Preheat your oven to 350F, and apply cake goop to your two pans.
Mix 1/2 cup brown sugar & 1tsp cinnamon together, set aside.
In a 1 or 2 cup measuring cup, whisk 8 egg yolks with 1/3 cup of sour cream and 1TB of vanilla. Set aside.
In your stand mixer bowl, measure out your 400g cake flour, 400g sugar, 1tsp baking powder, 1tsp baking soda, and 1tsp salt. Mix on low with the beater attachment until combined.
Add 3 sticks of butter (make sure they’re room temperature!) and 1 cup of sour cream, and mix on low until moistened, then on medium for 1 minute.
Add your egg yolk mixture in two batches, mixing for 20 seconds each.
Measure your batter evenly into your pans, leaving approximately half a cup of batter in your mixing bowl. Sprinkle the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly over your pans of batter, then dollop the rest of the batter over each and swirl it together.
Smooth the tops of your batter even, then bake for 35-40 minutes. If your cakes start to look very browned around 25 minutes, place foil gently over the pans until the cakes are done. (You’ll know because the tops will spring back slightly when you touch them, rather than feeling mushy underneath).
Cool the cake layers in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling racks to cool completely.
For the frosting, in your mixer beat 2 sticks butter, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 2 teaspoons maple extract until light & fluffy. Add your powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, tasting once you get to 3 cups. Add as much or as little of the fourth cup as you’d like depending on your preference for frosting taste/texture.
Scoop out 1/4 cup of frosting, color it pale yellow, and refrigerate.
To assemble the cake, start by evening out the tops of the cake layers with a serrated knife, if needed*. Place your first layer (leave the nicer/smoother of the two for the top) on your cake board or plate, and brush it evenly with the 1/2 cup maple syrup, so that it soaks into the cake. If you’ve not cut off the top of this layer to make it even, you may need to poke a lot of holes in it with a toothpick in order to get the syrup to soak in.
Spread 1-1.5 cups of your frosting over that cake layer, then place the second layer on top. Do a crumb coat of frosting over your cake*, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Finish frosting the cake with the rest of your frosting, then refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Stir the cinnamon ganache, then slowly pour it in the center of your cake, circling it out slightly until it covers about half of the cake’s surface (in the center, in a circle). If you want to go for the “drip look” where it just falls down the sides of the cake slightly but doesn’t hit your cake board/plate, you should wait about 30 minutes at this point to see how far it spreads on its own. It will, it just goes slowly! Gradually add more, bit by bit, waiting in between to see how much it spreads itself. If you’re less patient and don’t care about pools around the cake’s edges, you can add it all at once - but still slowly. Pour more in certain sections to get it to drizzle down that edge of the cake.
Take a small ice cream/cookie scoop and scoop your yellow-colored frosting in the center of the cake, like a scoop of butter. Refrigerate covered up to 2 days - remove from fridge at least 4 hours before eating.
*For info on leveling cake layers & crumb coats, see “Stacking & Frosting Directions” in this post.