Last week I made a Kentucky Bourbon Cake that I loved so much, I wanted to adapt it to a layer cake recipe. I sat for a few minutes and thought about the filling and frosting. I wasn’t really in the mood for chocolate or pastel colored frosting, so I started thumbing through my older recipes. I came across my cashew caramel bars. One thing I’ve always wanted to make was a Payday-like bar. The cashew bar was the closest I’ve come so far, but it still needed work. I decided to try to make a Payday cake instead.
I started with the caramel recipe I used for the bars and adapted it with a few nougat recipes that I found to come up with the filling. For the frosting, I just decided to go with a basic cream cheese frosting and add a bit of caramel.
The batter was enough to fill three 8-inch cake pans, but I used two 6-inch pans instead. It took a very long time for the cake to bake and even after 40 minutes, the very top center of the cake was still a little gummy. I was going to have to level the cake anyway, so I wasn’t too worried about that. But it did nag at me.
The nougat was an entirely different story. After letting it cool, it became very stiff. So stiff that I thought I wouldn’t be able to spread it. I had to use my hands and coat them with butter in order to put it on the cake. All I kept thinking was “this is going to turn into candy and no one will be able to eat it”. I slapped on the frosting and put it in the fridge to set overnight. The next morning, I added the caramel drizzle and peanuts and cut the cake. It was so hard to cut! The nougat filling was almost solid. I shrugged it off and just let the cake sit until it was room temperature. It was much better. The nougat was soft and easy to chew. At first I thought the cake was too sweet, but after I let it sit for a while it mellowed and I really enjoyed it.
*something new! I’ve recently discovered Yummly and added the button to my page. It’s a great site to add your favorite recipes.
For the cake
- 3 cups sifted cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 4 eggs (, at room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 ¼ cups buttermilk (, at room temperature)
For the nougat
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup evaporated milk
- 1½ cups marshmallow fluff
- ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1½ cups salted peanuts (, roughly chopped)
For the caramel
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- ½ to 1 teaspoon salt
For the caramel cream cheese frosting
- 4 ounces unsalted butter (, softened)
- 4 ounces cream cheese (, softened)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup caramel
- 1 cup salted peanuts (, roughly chopped)
Make the cake
- Grease three 8-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and make sure the oven rack is in the center. To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl, then whisk the mixture by hand to ensure that the ingredients are well mixed.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. As you make the batter, stop the mixture frequently and scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Blend in the eggs one at a time. In a small bowl combine the buttermilk with vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk-mixture in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour. After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape down the bowl. Stop the mixture before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the cake is golden and springs back when touched, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes then remove and place on cooling rack until cooled completely.
- Make the nougat: Combine butter, sugar, and evaporated milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from heat and add the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and vanilla extract, stirring until completely smooth. Stir in the peanuts. Let the nougat mixture cool to room temperature before using it in the cake.
Make the caramel
- In a medium saucepan, add sugar. Cook over medium high heat until sugar begins to melt. Once sugar begins to liquefy, reduce heat to medium or medium low. Swirl the pan once in a while to make sure sugar melts evenly. Continue to melt the sugar until liquid is amber brown and aromatic. Add butter to sauce pan. Whisk until the butter has melted.
- Remove saucepan from heat and slowly add the heavy cream. Continue to whisk until cream and sugar mixture are well blended. Add salt to taste. Continue to whisk until caramel is thick and smooth. Set aside and let cool.
Make the frosting
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Slowly add caramel. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy.
Assemble the cake
- Level the cakes with a serrated knife. Spread nougat on bottom layer of the cake. Place the top layer on and spread the cream cheese frosting on sides and bottom of cake making it as smooth as possible. Drizzle the caramel on top of the cake and let it fall down the sides of the cake. Sprinkle peanuts on top of cake.