If you’re from the Bay Area, you’ve probably heard of and hopefully had the chance to try Humphrey Slocombe ice cream. One of their well loved flavors is “Secret Breakfast” - a delightful combination of bourbon ice cream with cornflake cookie chunks in it. A while back I was thinking about this surprising combination and thought how fun it would be to turn that flavor into a cake. Then, this past weekend a group of my friends gathered to celebrate one of our friend’s birthday with a socially distanced picnic, and I thought it was a great opportunity to try out this cake idea. I think it worked out nicely as an “adult” birthday cake flavor!
The base of this cake is a vanilla cake adapted from “Weeknight Baking”, a fantastic book by Michelle Lopez of Hummingbird High. The book has a lot of great recipes, and I’ve also found the sections around general tips/advice around how to plan baking during the week super helpful. I usually count a recipe book a success if I get just one good idea from it, and I find myself coming back to this one quite a bit these days. This vanilla cake in itself has both great flavor from the butter and punch of buttermilk, as well as moisture thanks to the oil. I’ve chosen to make it with all purpose flour instead of cake flour since that’s what I usually have on hand (and used Michelle’s tip to convert the amounts!). I also decreased the sugar a bit from the original recipe. I think this is a vanilla cake recipe I’ll be coming back to!
Of course the glaze of Jim Beam Bourbon kicks this cake up a notch, adding moisture and that boozy goodness which makes it a “Secret” breakfast flavor :) I went with a heavier hand while adding the bourbon, using about 1/3 cup, but you can adjust it according to your preferences - 1/4 cup or even less will still give you that bourbon flavor but just a bit more subtle. The full 1/3 cup will make the flavor pretty dominant - not for the faint of heart!
While making a custard filling might sound a little off putting, its honestly way easier than you think and absolutely delicious. You’ll want to put it in everything, or maybe you’ll decide it’s time to make some tiramisu. I also like the idea of custard in this cake because its a bit of a nod to making ice cream, too!
This recipe has quite a few components but the nice thing is that most of them are pretty easy to make! The frosting in itself is one of the easiest frostings you’ll find, and you could use this frosting recipe with any instant pudding flavor you like for other cakes or cupcakes. For example, you can use pistachio pudding for an easy pistachio frosting. Also, you don’t have to frost this cake perfectly smooth since most of it (or all of it, depending on how you decorate the cake) will be covered with candied corn flakes! This is great when you don’t want to spend a lot of time getting frosting perfectly smooth.
The candied cornflakes are also really easy to make. The yolks left over from the cornflakes get used for the custard filling, so you’re not left searching for recipes to use the extra egg parts or throwing anything away, which I always hate to do!
I chose to cover just the sides with cornflakes and do some frosting swirls on top. I also added a birthday message in chocolate in the middle. If you wanted to keep it simple, you could easily cover the top with candied cornflakes as well - I had plenty left over from the 4 cups I made.
This was a fun cake to make and eat! I feel like we all need a little pick me up these days, and a boozy dessert fits the bill just right. Hope you enjoy this recipe, stay healthy, and stay kind!
- 1 hour
- 1 hour
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2/3 cup butter
- 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup canola oil
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 4 cups cereal
- 3 egg whites
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cream
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 8 oz mascarpone
- 3 cups heavy w/c
- Vanilla instant pudding
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup bourbon, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 8 inch cake pans with non stick spray and cover with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper as well.
- Add butter and sugar to a large bowl and beat with paddle attachment. Beat for 3-4 minutes on medium speed, until very fluffy, occasionally scraping down with a spatula.
- Turn mixer to low speed and add eggs, one at a time, scraping bowl in between.
- Add oil, then buttermilk and vanilla.
- Finally slowly add dry ingredients and mix until combined, but don’t over mix.
- Pour half the batter into each pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a skewer comes out mostly clean/with a few crumbs.
- Let the cake cool for 15-20 minutes in pans, then take out of pans to continue cooling until cooled completely.
- At this point, you can wrap the cake in plastic wrap and aluminum foil or place in a large freezer safe ziploc bag. You can freeze the cake until you’re ready to fill and decorate, or just refrigerate if you’ll be decorating the next day.
For candied cereal
- Preheat oven to 350F and cover a large sheet pan with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl stir together cornflakes, egg whites, and sugar
- Pour mixture over sheet pan and lightly smooth to an even layer.
- Bake for 20 minutes, in the middle agitating and turning the mix around with a large spatula.
- Let the mixture cool down completely to crisp up. If there are large clumps, crush lightly with hands to break up.
- Whisk cream, sugar, and egg yolks together in a sauce pan.
- Heat over medium high heat on stove, whisking very often. Make sure to get the bottom to avoid cooking egg.
- Heat until mixture begins bubbling, then continue whisking and cooking for an additional minute.
- Take off heat and let the mixture cool to room temperature, then chill in refrigerator for at least an hour.
- After the mixture has chilled, whisk in mascarpone until smooth.
- Combine cream and instant pudding powder in mixer bowl. Whip until the cream forms stiff peaks.
- Brush cake layers with rum - you can adjust the amount to your liking!
- Place one layer on cake circle or large plate. Pipe or use a spatula to smooth custard filling over the first layer. Then place second layer on top,
- Frost layers with vanilla frosting.
- Cover sides with candied cornflakes. For the top, you can also cover with cornflakes, or decorate with swirls of frosting.
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