Seven Layer Liqueur Cake
Tips: Most seven layer cakes are made of thin layers of
white spongecake, sandwiched with a chocolate buttercream. Boring!
Instead, this is made with chocolate spongecake, sandwiched with
vanilla pastry cream, and the whole has a decent dousing of hazelnut
liqueur. Most likely, adults would appreciate this more than children,
although any raw alcohol taste passes off during the chilling time.
In any case, youll want to serve small slices, preferably
after a light meal and with a cup of good coffee.
Once assembled, this will keep up to 4 days in the refrigerator,
if tightly wrapped, but it doesnt freeze. Make sure to put
nothing on top of the cake when its in the fridge, as spongecake
is delicate. Make the pastry cream first, as it must be well-chilled
when used. Nice for a late winter-early spring celebration.
- 1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1-1/2 tsp. all-purpose flour
- 4 egg yolks, from eggs graded large
- 1-3/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp. whole milk, divided
- 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into thin slices, at room temperature
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 6 eggs, graded large, separated and at room temperature
- 3/4 cup sifted cake flour
- 1/2 cup sifted unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- Pinch salt
- 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tsp. vanilla
8 Tbsp. Frangelico liqueur
Confectioners sugar OR unsweetened cocoa powder OR a mix of
For Pastry Cream: Have ready a strainer set above a heatproof bowl
or measure of at least 2-2/3 cup capacity (I use a 4 cup liquid
measure). Have ready a piece of plastic wrap, pierced with a knifeblade
or toothpick in 10 to 20 places, that will be placed on the surface
of the cooked cream to prevent a skin from forming.
In 1 to 1-1/2 quart heavy-bottomed pot, combine sugar, cornstarch,
and flour. With slotted spoon or small whisk, mix thoroughly to
combine well, pressing out as many lumps as possible.
In small bowl, combine egg yolks with 2 Tbsp. milk (reserve remaining
milk). With fork, beat well to combine. Add to sugar mixture in
pot. Stir gently to combine and to press out as many lumps as possible.
Gradually add remaining milk to egg yolk-sugar mixture, stirring
it in as you go. Scrape bottom and sides of pot with rubber spatula;
place pot over medium heat.
Stir gently but constantly with whisk or slotted spoon until mixture
comes to a boil. There will probably be a layer of foam on top of
this mixture as it heats; when the foam begins to incorporate into
the cream, youll know its boiling or just about to boil.
Stop stirring momentarily to check for a boil, then boil and stir
for 1 to 1-1/2 minutes; cream should thicken substantially during
this time. Remove from heat.
Immediately add butter slices. Allow to stand for a minute or so,
then stir in gently with whisk or rubber spatula, scraping bottom
and sides of pot gently. Stir in vanilla.
Pour into strainer, forcing through into heatproof container. Place
pierced plastic wrap directly onto surface of hot cream. Cool briefly,
then chill until thoroughly cold, at least 3 hours (much will depend
on your container).
About 2-1/3 cups
For Chocolate Spongecake: Place egg whites in small bowl of electric
stand mixer (or in medium bowl if stand mixer is not available).
Place egg yolks in medium or large bowl of electric stand mixer
(or large bowl if stand mixer is not available). Whites and yolks
should be at room temperature. Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat
oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 round layer pans, each 9 inches
in diameter and 2 inches deep. Line the bottoms with circles of
parchment or wax paper cut to fit, grease the paper, and dust the
insides of each pan lightly with flour, knocking out any excess.
Set prepared pans aside.
Sift together twice the sifted cake flour, sifted cocoa powder,
baking powder and baking soda.
Add salt to room-temperature egg whites. If whisk beater is available,
attach to stand mixer. Begin beating whites at low speed; gradually
increase speed to high. Beat until white, very foamy, and increased
in volume. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar (reserve remainder). Beat
at high speed until whites are almost at stiff peak stage. Set aside
Add vanilla to egg yolks. Use the same beater(s)--no need to wash
or rinse them. Start beating yolks at low speed; gradually increase
speed to high. Gradually add reserved 1/2 cup sugar. Beat at high
speed 4 to 5 minutes, scraping bowl and beater(s) once or twice
with ruber spatula, until yolks are pale and very fluffy; when beater
is lifted up, yolk mixture should form a wide, flat ribbon as it
flows back into the bowl. Remove from stand mixer, if used.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold about 1/3 of the beaten
whites into the yolk mixture--dont be too thorough now. Make
your strokes count as you fold; fold gently and lightly. Gradually
sift on about 1/4 cup of the sifted dry ingredients, and fold in,
not too thoroughly. Continue alternating small amounts of the beaten
whites and sifted dry ingredients, making sure you reserve some
beaten whites to fold in last. Fold each addition in only partway
before adding the next. Finally, with the final addition of beaten
whites, fold everything together just the batter is an even color.
The batter should be rather thick.
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. To level, hold a pan
so that one hand grasps a top edge on both sides (your hands should
be about 180 degrees apart). Twist sharply in short back-and-forth
Place in preheated oven. Bake 16 to 20 minutes, turning pans back
to front and switching their positions on the rack late in the baking
period. While layers bake, ready cooling racks, including one nonstick;
if not available, spray a regular cooling rack very lightly with
nonstick cooking spray. Layers are done when toothpick inserted
in center emerges with a few moist crumbs still clinging to it.
Layers may not come away from pan sides until out of oven. Do not
overbake. Remove to regular cooling racks.
Let layers stand just 2 to 3 minutes. During this time, layers
will begin to come away from pan edges and will lose some volume--OK.
Cut around edges of layers gently with small, sharp knife to remove
from pan. Invert one layer onto nonstick cooling rack, then re-invert
to cool right side up onto regular cooling rack (do not remove parchment
circle from cake bottom at this time). Turned-out layers may have
sides that slope inward somewhat--OK. Repeat with other layer. Allow
layers to cool completely before assembling the cake.
To Assemble: Have ready a serving plate of at least 9 inch
diameter. If the tops of the cooled sponge layers are not flat,
level them with a very sharp, serrated knife, cutting gently with
a sawing motion. Holding a cooled layer very gently on one flat
hand, carefully peel the parchment circle from the bottom in small
sections; repeat with other layer. If the sides of the layers are
not straight (mine never are), trim with a very sharp, serrated
knife so that the layers are about 8-1/2 inches in diameter, or
trim as much as is needed until sides are straight. Split one layer
in half horizontally. Remove pastry cream from refrigerator and
stir to loosen slightly.
Place the top half of the split layer on the serving plate, upside
down. Sprinkle with 2 Tbsp. Frangelico. Once the Frangelico has
been absorbed (which should be almost instantly), place 1/3 of the
pastry cream onto the cake, spreading it evenly to within 1/4 inch
of all edges. Top the pastry cream with the bottom half of the layer,
cut side up. Sprinkle with another 2 Tbsp. Frangelico, letting it
absorb into the cake. Top with another 1/3 of the pastry cream,
spreading evenly as directed above. Split the second layer horizontally.
Place the top half of the second layer upside down onto the pastry
cream, then sprinkle with another 2 Tbsp. Frangelico and top with
the last of the pastry cream. Top that with the bottom half of the
second layer, cut side down. Sprinkle with the final 2 Tbsp. of
Frangelico. With your hand, gently press down on the assembled cake
to compact it slightly; the pastry cream should come just to the
edges. Cover tightly with plastic wrap; chill at least 2 hours before
For Serving: If possible, remove from refrigerator and let
stand at cool room temperature about 15 minutes before serving.
Just prior to serving, sift a bit of confectioners sugar/unsweetened
cocoa powder all over the top of the cake (if you like, lay a doily
gently on top of the cake, sift the confectioners sugar/cocoa
powder over the doily, then gently lift the doily off). To cut,
use a sharp, serrated knife; cut the cake gently, using a sawing
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
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