Cameo Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

October 19, 2011

Since posting a photo of the cake I made for my friend Karen on Monday, I’ve been inundated with emails and facebook messages asking for the recipe.

It’s always a little bit difficult handing out recipes here, because half of you are American and speak the language of cups and teaspoons, and the other half are British, and want to know how many grams of everything you need.  I’ve got cookbooks from both sides of the pond, and I’ve found a really helpful tool when I bake – this online conversion calculator.

My Cameo Cake recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks: The Blue Willow Inn Bible of Southern Cooking.  Simon bought me this book for Christmas in 2009 (which happened to be the day after we moved back to England).  I maintain it’s one of the best gifts he’s ever gotten me.  In fact, that Christmas morning, I’m pretty sure I sat staring at it, running my fingers over the pages, excited about all the Southern cooking possibilities, for at least an hour.

I. Love. This. Book.

Obviously, being that The Blue Willow Inn is in Social Circle, GA, this recipe is written in American, so that’s how I’m going to type it out here.  Where I’ve made changes, I’ll let you know.  If you’re British and are hankerin’ for some measuring cups, I like these; they’re sturdy, cheap, and hooked together so you won’t lose any if you’ve got a messy utensil drawer like I have.

Now, let’s get down to business.

Wait, one more thing: before we got started, I must warn you that the writer of this cookbook, Mrs. Billie Van Dyke, tells us at the beginning of the recipe that this cake is “worth the special effort.”  As that phrase implies, it’s a bit of a job, but you can totally do it.  Seriously.  It’s tougher than a basic pound cake, but don’t get intimidated.  Just follow the recipe and you’ll be fine.

Cameo Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

Original recipe by Billie Van Dyke for the Bible of Southern Cooking

Adapted slightly by yours truly

For the cake:

3 plus 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped toasted pecans*

2 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt**

1 cup (2 sticks, if you’re American) butter

3/4 cup water

4 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.  Grease and lightly flour three 9-inch round cake pans (I only did two, because I only had two – so my layers were just fatter).   In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the flour with the pecans(this keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the cake when you add them to the batter).  In a large bowl combine the remaining 3 cups flour, the sugar, baking soda, and salt.  In a saucepan on medium heat bring the butter and water to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts.  Remove from the heat and stir in the white chocolate until it is melted (don’t be scared).

Stir in the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla until blended.  Gradually whisk the white chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients until the mixture is smooth.  Fold in the pecan mixture.  Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes (no, wait, before you do that – taste the batter.  OMG.) or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.  The tops will be nice and golden.

Remove from the oven and cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.  Remove from the pans and place the cakes on the racks to cool completely.

For the frosting:

4 oz. white chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 (8 oz) plus 1 (3 oz) packages cream cheese, softened (if you’re British, this is pretty much just 1 full package of Philadelphia and about a third of a second package)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, cut up

3 cups confectioners’ sugar (or icing sugar, Brits), sifted

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chopped toasted pecans for garnish (optional, but look how pretty!  Hello Southern Living cover cake!)

Microwave the white chocolate in a small microwavable (duh) bowl on high for 1 1/2 minutes until it is almost melted.  Stir until it is smooth.  Cool slightly for 10 minutes.  While the chocolate is cooling, in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer (or, if you’re like me and don’t own an electric mixer, your arm and a whisk) beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.  At this point, I would like to say that if, like me, you do decide to use your arm and a whisk, it’s going to take you quite a few minutes to achieve “light and fluffy”.  But you can do it.  Or get your husband to do it.  Whatever.

Beat in the melted chocolate.  Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla.  Beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until the frosting is completely smooth. (Taste it now.  Weep.)

Refrigerate for 1 hour until the frosting is firm and spreadable.  Frost between the layers and on the top and sides of the cake.  Garnish with the chopped pecans.  Cover the cake loosely *** and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours or overnight.****

*If you buy pecans that aren’t already toasted (which I do), just throw them on a baking sheet, making sure they’re in a single layer, and stick them in an oven set to 35o (F) and toast them for 5 minutes.  Easy peasy.  Don’t over-toast them though, because burnt pecans taste like tree bark.  And pecans are expensive.

** I always, always add a tiny bit more salt than a recipe calls for when it comes to baking sweet things.  But that’s just me.

***To cover my cake loosely, I stuck a clothes pin in the top and rested aluminum foil over it so as not to mess up my beautiful toasted pecan display. 

****I did not refrigerate my cake for 6 to 8 hours, because I made it the morning of a party and didn’t have 6 to 8 hours.  But I can see why Billie thinks you should.  The frosting will hold up much better, and cake always tastes better when it’s had a little time to sit and soak up its frosting.  Although, to be honest, if this cake had tasted better, I might have literally died.

Good luck!  Let me know how it goes.

Also, just as an aside, this is my 300th post on Great Smitten. I feel a celebration is in order.  Yay!  Celebration!  Cake!

7 responses to “Cameo Cake with White Chocolate Frosting”

  1. liztesar says:

    YUMM. These look AMAZING! I’m adding these to the list of holiday baking!!

  2. Kj says:

    Oooh! This looks good. Im definitely going to give a try. Although nothing says southern baking to me like a good ol red velvet cake.
    Got any of those recipes in that fancy book?

  3. Keri says:

    Yum! I love how you referenced American and British things 🙂

  4. Sabrina says:

    Oh. my. heavens.

  5. Jamie Simmons says:

    I’m so going to make this! Oh, and another Southern Cookbook that I like is The Southern Cooks Handbook (Courtney Taylor and Bonnie Carter Travis). Nothing fancy just good ole’ southern cooking.

  6. Barbara says:

    I use this recipe often, and ALWAYS receive tons of compliments on the taste. It’s wonderful. Obtained my recipe from another cookbook, I believe Southern Living, but it’s almost identical. If you want rave reviews, make this cake. A little time-consuming, but worth every bite. I personally double the icing recipe, because everyone loves it so much.

  7. Can you repost this recipe please?

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