It’s a rare cake that looks better after it’s cut! You’ll be amazed at the simple trick to creating this eye-popping dessert — and the amazing blend of eggnog and spiced cocoa in every magical bite. This could be the ultimate winter holiday cake.
2 hours cooling time (preferably overnight)
1 hour chilling time
30 for eggnog layers; 35 minutes for chocolate layers
1 8-inch 4-layer cake
Ingredients & equipment
For the cakes:
4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
2½ cups (543 g) Redpath® Golden Yellow Sugar, packed
1 cup (200 g) Redpath® Granulated Sugar
2½ (7 g) baking powder
½ tsp (2 g) baking soda
¾ tsp (4 g) salt
1⅓ cup (303 g) butter, cubed
1 cup (250 ml) eggnog
3 tbsp (45 ml) canola oil
6 large eggs
1 large yolk
1 cup (250 ml / 243 g) sour cream
1 tbsp (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
¼ cup (25 g) cocoa powder
1 tsp (1 g) espresso powder
¼ cup (63 ml) water, just boiled
1 tsp (2 g) ground nutmeg
½ tsp (2 g) ground cinnamon
For the vanilla buttercream:
2 recipes “Quick Buttercream”
5 tsp (25 ml) pure vanilla extract
½ tsp (3 g) salt
8 x 2-inch cake round pans x 4
Parchment rounds x 4
Scale OR dry measuring cups
Liquid measuring cup
Stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment OR large bowl with hand mixer
Large bowls x 2
Whisk OR fork
Large rubber spatula x 2
Small offset spatula x 2
Wire cooling rack
Large piping bag
Round/plain piping tip (large)
Serrated bread knife OR chef’s knife
Cake boards OR plates x 4
6-inch round cutter OR 6-inch bowl with a sharp paring knife
4-inch round cutter OR 4-inch bowl with a sharp paring knife
2-inch round cutter OR 2-inch bowl with a sharp paring knife
For the cakes:
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Lightly grease four 8 x 2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds. Flour the sides and tap out any excess flour.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, the Redpath® Golden Yellow Sugar, the Redpath® Granulated Sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low speed until thoroughly mixed, and no lumps remain.
Add the cubed butter and mix on low speed until all the dry ingredients are coated, and the mixture looks like wet sand.
Add the eggnog and canola oil. Mix on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium speed; beat for 30 seconds.
In a large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs and yolk. With the whisk, carefully stir in the sour cream and vanilla extract until well combined.
Add ⅓ of the egg-sour cream mixture into the bowl of the stand mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined, increase speed to medium, and beat for 30 seconds to incorporate. Repeat process with the remaining egg-sour cream mixture.
Divide the batter evenly between 2 large bowls; use a scale for greater accuracy.
In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and instant espresso. Add and whisk in the hot water. Set aside to cool slightly.
In one of the bowls, sprinkle the nutmeg and cinnamon over the surface of the batter. Gently fold in with a large spatula until well combined. Divide the batter evenly into 2 of the prepared pans (again, use a scale for more accuracy). Spread and smooth out the tops using a small offset spatula.
Add a dollop of the untouched batter into the cocoa powder mixture to help loosen it up. Stir well. Add the cocoa mixture into the larger bowl and fold with a large rubber spatula until thoroughly mixed. Divide the batter evenly into 2 of the prepared pans. Spread and smooth out the tops using a small offset spatula.
If oven is not large enough, bake 2 pans, one of each flavour, at a time. Cover and set the other 2 pans in a cool area while the other cakes bake.
Place cakes into the preheated oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre come out clean. Note that the eggnog cakes may bake faster than the cocoa cakes. Remove baked cake(s) from the oven as they are ready.
Place cakes onto wire cooling racks and allow to cool; 10 minutes.
Run a small offset spatula around the edge of each cake. Carefully flip cakes out and place them onto the wire cooling racks. Allow them to cool completely before attempting to cut (see Chef’s Tips); 1 to 2 hours.
While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream.
For the vanilla buttercream:
Make buttercream as directed in the recipe. Replace the teaspoon of vanilla extract with the 5 teaspoons indicated in the ingredient list and add the salt when adding the extract.
Transfer about ½ of the buttercream into a large piping bag fitted with a large round/plain tip.
If necessary, use a sharp, serrated breadknife to evenly remove the domed parts of each cooled cake layer.
Work with one cake of each flavour at a time, placed onto a cake board or plate. Use a 6-inch round cutter or a bowl (and a paring knife) to cut out a round from the centre of each 8-inch cake. Carefully remove the 6” cake round from the eggnog cake and from the cocoa cake.
Place the eggnog round into the chocolate ring and the chocolate round into the eggnog ring.
Use a 4-inch cutter or bowl/cup to cut out a round from the centre of each 6-inch round. Remove each 4” cake round from the centre of each flavour and place it into the opposite cake flavour as you did with the 6-inch round.
With a 2-inch cutter cut out a round from the centre of each 4-inch round. Remove each 2” cake round and place the eggnog cake into the 4-inch chocolate ring and the chocolate round into the 4-inch eggnog ring. Repeat process with the remaining 2 cake rounds.
There should be 4 cake layers on 4 cake boards/plates with alternating rings of eggnog and cocoa or cocoa and eggnog.
On the desired platter or cake stand, carefully slide one of the finished cocoa cake layers (chocolate ring on the outside).
With the filled piping bag, pipe concentric circles of buttercream onto the cake layer. Gently smooth the buttercream using a small offset spatula. Place the next layer on top of the buttercream, and ensure that this layer has the eggnog ring on the outside. Repeat process with the buttercream and cake layers. The cake layers, starting at the bottom, should be cocoa-eggnog-cocoa-eggnog (or, if you started with the eggnog cake layer on the bottom, eggnog-cocoa-eggnog-cocoa).
Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Place cake into the fridge to chill and firm up the buttercream; 15 minutes.
Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream and decorate as desired.
Place frosted cake into the fridge to allow the flavours to meld together and the cake to firm up; 1 hour. Chilling the cake makes it easier to slice.
Dust the top of the cake with cinnamon, nutmeg, or cocoa powder.
Slice cake with a sharp serrated knife or chef’s knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry with a kitchen towel. Repeat process with each slice made.
Allow cake slices to come to room temperature before serving; 5 to 10 minutes.
*The method being used in this recipe is called the reverse creaming method, two-stage method, and/or “paste” method, where the fat is added to the dry ingredients (which includes the sugar) before adding any of the eggs or liquid. This method tends to yield a cake that has a tender and tighter crumb (sturdier) and flatter tops (less air is being incorporated into the batter).
*To make cleaner cuts, place completely cooled cakes wrapped well in plastic wrap into the fridge overnight to chill and firm up. Alternatively, if short on time, pop the completely cooled and wrapped cakes into the freezer for about an hour before cutting the circles.
*For visuals and additional tips, read the article “Frosting a Cake”.
*Redpath® Dark Brown Sugar can be used instead of the Redpath® Golden Yellow Sugar. Note that the resulting cake layers will be darker than the original and may have a more pronounced undertone flavour of caramel.