Peppermint Layer Cake

Peppermint Layer Cake
Peppermint Layer Cake

If you've been following my blog for some time, you'll know by now that I am a huge peppermint fan.  I find that a lot of the common peppermint desserts are combined with chocolate.  I will agree that yes, chocolate and peppermint are excellent together.  But, when it comes in cake form, or even ice cream, I prefer it to be white or vanilla.  So, I decided to create my own cake for the holiday.  Of course, it had to a milk bar style cake, because they are way more fun to make.  This cake was everything I had dreamed it would be, and more.  It was just the right amount of peppermint, but not overpowering.  The combination of the yellow cake, chocolate ganache and peppermint ice cream are perfect.  And, when you bake the peppermint cake crumble, it makes your house smell like a peppermint wonderland.  It is amazing.

Peppermint Layer Cake
Peppermint Layer Cake

Let me break this cake down for you, because there are a lot of components.  First, you have a simple white cake that is actually from the milk bar birthday cake,  with a simple peppermint milk brushed over the cake.  Then, a creamy ganache is spread over the cake.  Homemade peppermint ice cream is slathered over the ganache.  To finish the first layer, a peppermint cake crumble is sprinkled over the ice cream.  The whole layering process is done once more.  To finish, the last cake layer is slathered with the remaining ganache and garnished with peppermint cake crumbles.  Holy smokes.  Now that is what I call a cake!  This would make the perfect holiday cake for a party, special dinner, or just any day of the week.  This is so worth the time.  And, it will last in the freezer for weeks!  Take the time out of your day to make this, because you won't be disappointed.  Besides, it's Christmas!  Eat and be merry.

Peppermint Layer Cake

Peppermint Layer Cake

Yield: 1 rich 6-inch cake

For the peppermint cake crumble 

  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons (25 grams) light brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) cake flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup (40 grams) grapeseed oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) peppermint extract

  • 3 candy canes (about 46 grams) crushed

For the cake

  • 9 1/3 Tablespoons (115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar

  • 3 Tablespoons (50 grams) light brown sugar

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup (110 grams) buttermilk

  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) grapeseed oil

  • 2 teaspoons (8 grams) vanilla extract

  • 2 cups (245 grams) cake flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt

For the peppermint ice cream

  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream

  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract

  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes

For the soak

  • 1/4 cup (55 grams) milk

  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) peppermint extract

For the chocolate ganache

  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

  • 4 oz. heavy cream

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature


To make the crumble, heat the oven to 300ºF.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix on low speed until combined.  Add in the oil, vanilla extract, peppermint extract, and crushed candy canes and mix until the dry ingredients start to form small clusters.  Spread the clusters on the prepared baking sheet. Baking for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally.  Remove from the oven.  The crumbs will dry and harden as they cool.  Cool completely before using.

To make the cake, heat the oven to 350ºF.  Butter and flour the edges of a quarter sheet pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugars.  Beat on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add in the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2-3 minutes more.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.

With the mixer on low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla.  Increase the speed to medium-high and mix for 4-6 minutes, until the mixture is nearly white and twice the size of the original batter, and completely homogenous (there should be no streaks of fat or liquid.)  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the mixer on very low speed, add in the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix for 45-60 seconds, just until the batter comes together.  Spread the batter in the prepared quarter sheet pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through baking, until the cake is puffed and the center is no longer jiggly (the cake should bounce back when lightly poked with your finger.)  Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.

To make the ice cream, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the milk in a small bowl to create a slurry

In a large bowl mix the cream cheese and salt together until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup and peppermint extract.  Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Let boil for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Place the saucepan back over the heat and bring to a boil again over medium-high heat.  Stir constantly with a heatproof spatula until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Cover and place in the refrigerator until completely cool, several hours or overnight.  Alternatively, place over a bowl full of ice cubes until thoroughly chilled before churning.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Scoop into a freezer-safe container.  Fold in the crushed candy canes.  Store in the freezer

Don't make the ganache until you are ready to assemble the cake.  To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl.  Heat the heavy cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat until the sides are bubbling.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes.  Whisk until smooth and the chocolate has melted, then whisk in the butter until incorporated.

To assemble the cake, invert the cake from the sheet pan onto a work surface. Use a 6-inch cake ring to cut out 2 circles from the cake (these will be the top two layers.)  Wipe off the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or a silpat.  Use a strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring.  Use scraps from the leftover cake to place in the ring and push together in a flat, even layer.  Whisk together the milk and peppermint extract for the soak.  Use a pastry brush to soak the cake with about half of the liquid mixture.

Spread a third of the ganache in an even layer over the cake.  Spread about 1 1/2 cups of the peppermint ice cream over the ganache, then sprinkle one third of the cake crumbs evenly over the top of the ice cream.  Press down gently to anchor in place.  Gently tuck a second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top 1/4-inch of the first strip of acetate.  Set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the layering process once more (brush with soak, ganache, ice cream, cake crumbs.)  Place the remaining cake layer on top of the cake crumbs.  Cover the top with the remaining third of the ganache and garnish with the remaining cake crumbs.

Transfer the assembled cake to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and the ice cream.  When you are ready to serve, remove the pan from the freezer, pop the cake out of the cake ring, and peel away the acetate layers.  Transfer to a cake platter.  Serve immediately, or store, well covered, in the freezer for several weeks.


Source: Cake and method adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar, ice cream adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home