The Insanity Cake
One of the hallmarks of the COVID-19 crisis has been the coming together over food and recipes. This recipe came from my good friend Kirk Bishop (also my hairdresser!), who shared it during the early weeks of the lockdown. I remember texting him and saying, "hey Kirk, got any cool family recipes you want to share?".
This towering cake is a regular at his family gatherings and was one of his mother's favourites. He rarely shares his recipes so I felt pretty special getting it, and he's agreed to share it with all of you.
I call it 'The Insanity Cake' because life felt like it was going insane when we all went into lockdown - and - the whole time I was making this cake I kept saying to myself, 'this cake is insane!' It's a bit of a challenge but there is a great sense of satisfaction when it turns out. Enjoy....you'll swoon over every forkful.
2 cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) soft butter or margarine
2 cups granulated sugar (divided)
3 eggs, separated
2/3 cup milk
3 tsp vanilla extract, divided
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
2/3 cup chopped brazil nuts or sliced almonds
Grease two 8" round layer cake tins. Cut 2 strips of parchment paper about 7" x 14" (you'll note I did not do this in the photos and it was a challenge to remove the cake -so don't skip this step). Grease both sides of the paper and lay it across the bottom of each tin. Cut 2 circles 8" in diameter; grease them and lay them on top of the stripsalong the bottom of each tin. The long strips of parchment will be essential to helping you remove the cakes from the tins once they are baked.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together, twice. In another bowl, cream the butter. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar.
In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until thick and light. Then add them to the creamed mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and the milk. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture a quarter at a time, alternating with three additions of the milk, combining lightly after each addition. Spread the cake batter evenly in both cake tins.
Beat egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle with cream of tartar. Beat until stiff but not dry. Gradually beat in the remaining 1 cup sugar. Then add 1 1/2 tsp vanilla. Spread the meringue over the cake batter. Sprinkle with chopped or sliced nuts.
Bake for 45 minutes. Let cakes cool completely before removing them from the tins. Run a knife around the edge of the cakes and using the parchment strips, lift the cakes from the pans. Tilt the cakes slightly and remove the parchment.
Set one cake on a cake plate, meringue/nut side up. Whip 1 cup of whipping cream sweetened with 1 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Smear the top of the cake with the whipped cream. Lay the second layer on top. Use a serrated knife in a sawing motion to cut the cake. (Kirk "gilds the lily" and drizzles the cake with a caramel sauce.)