This is next-level delicious, so don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. And we all know you want to try it. This is a buttery yellow buttermilk cake, topped with maple syrup buttercream frosting, a spicy salted caramel with sage for some true poultry flavor, topped with actual chicken nuggets.
By Graham Blackall
You all should know that I live for a special occasion, especially one that involves celebratory dessert. But don’t be fooled, celebratory desserts aren’t only for special occasions. Sometimes I like to celebrate not-so-special occasions, like Mondays or Tuesdays or Wednesdays or…. you get the point. And what’s more important than a Chicken & Waffles Cake? Uh, nothing.
I’ve been thinking about this cake nonstop since the Great Blog Brainstorm of Summer 2014, but couldn’t find an occasion appropriate enough for this level of gluttony. I know what you’re all thinking right now: “Okay Graham, this is totally absurd.” And yes, I know — chicken and waffles in cake form is probably the most unhealthy and seemingly repulsive thing I’ve posted to date, but I sure as hell know that 99% of you kiiiinda want to taste it. Really, don’t knock it until you try it. It’s next-level delicious.
Here’s a little rundown of the components of this cake: a buttery and refreshingly-moist yellow buttermilk cake, topped with maple syrup buttercream frosting, a spicy salted caramel with cayenne, black pepper, and lots of sage for some true poultry flavor, topped with actual chicken nuggets and a freaking belgian waffle. (Let’s talk about how I used chicken nuggets as a cake garnish… absolutely absurd, indeed.)
So grab your forks and hide your scales, because chicken & waffles cake is a thing now.
- 4 whole eggs, room temperature
- 2 egg yolks, room temperature
- 1-1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups cake flour, sifted
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup maple syrup
- ¾ cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- ½ tsp. dried sage
- ⅛ - ¼ tsp. cayenne
- cake soak (mix ¼ cup milk with 1 tsp. butter vanilla extract)
- chicken nuggets (you can fry your own or buy them, no judgment)
- belgian waffles
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 9x13" baking pan.
- In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, yolks, ¼ cup of the buttermilk and the vanilla. Whisk to blend well.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt . Add the butter and the remaining 1 cup buttermilk to the dry ingredients and with the mixer on low, blend together. Raise the mixer speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the egg mixture in 3 additions, scraping down the side of the bowl and mixing only until thoroughly incorporated.
- Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake layers for 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes clean and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out onto wire rack and let cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together all of the ingredients on low speed until the butter is broken up and combined. Then, increase the speed to medium-high and mix for about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- In a small sauce pan, heat the sugar on medium heat until it dissolved and turns amber in color, mixing constantly. Add the butter and stir continuously until the butter and caramel are combined. Slowly mix in the heavy cream and stir until combined. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir in the salt, pepper, sage, and cayenne. Pour into a glass jar and refrigerate until cool.
- (If you're making this in two 9-inch rounds, you can ice the cake as you would normally. If you want to make this Milk Bar-style like me, continue on)
- Invert the cake onto a sheet of parchment paper or silpat, and peel off the parchment paper backing. Using the 6-inch cake ring, stamp out two circles from the cake. These will be the top and middle layers. The remaining cake "scrap' will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.
- Clean the cake ring and place it on a sheet of parchment paper or silpat atop a baking sheet. Use one strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. Put the cake scraps in the ring and use the back of your hand to press the scraps together into a flat even later.
- Dunk the pastry brush in the cake soak and give the layer of scraps a good, healthy bath of half of the soak.
- Spread one third of the maple syrup frosting over the base layer. Then drizzle with one-third of the caramel evenly over the top of the frosting. Use the back of your spoon to spread the caramel over the layer.
- With your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5-6 inches tall- high enough to support the height of the finished cake. Top with a full circle of cake (save the nicest one for the top layer), brush the rest of the cake soak over this layer, top with another one third of the frosting and one third of the caramel.
- Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the remainder of the frosting. Give it volume and swirls, or opt for the perfectly flat to.
- Freeze the cake for at least 12 hours to set the cake and filling. (And to make the unmolding much easier.)
- Three hours before serving, pull the pan from the freezer, and using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. Gently peel off the acetate and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours. (wrapped well in plastic, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)
- Once thawed, decorate the cake with chicken nuggets, belgian waffle pieces, and extra caramel.