Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Cake

Tell me who you loyal to
Is it money? it is fame? Is it weed? Is it drink?
Is it comin' down with the loud pipes and the rain?
Big chillin', only for the power in your name
Tell me who you loyal to
Is it love for the streets when the lights get dark?
Is it unconditional when the 'Rari don't start?
Tell me when your loyalty is comin' from the heart

                                           —Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.

Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

This month, April 2018, Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize for Music with his fourth album DAMN.

Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
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This marked the first time a genre other than classical or jazz won this prestigious award, which indicates a possible broader shift going on in people's perception of rap as a complex and legitimate art form (yay!).

In honor of the occasion, I designed a cake inspired by the album cover using Edible Art Paint to achieve a brick look on my buttercream and gumpaste to hand-cut the titular "DAMN" with an x-acto knife—fussy work, but totally worth it for the effect!

Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

This is also the most precipitously tall cake I've ever built, and especially given what's going on on the inside, when I planned it out I was not sure it would a) stand or b) slice. You see, I decided to experiment with putting layers of cheesecake inside, and was concerned that if the cheesecake was too squishy, the structural integrity of the whole cake would be shot.

But I played with a great recipe from Toba Garrett's The Well-Decorated Cake and I can't believe how well it held up under all that weight! Recipe below.

Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

I feel like I say this a lot, but this cake... might be the best thing I've ever made.

In my life.

Ten layers of Vintage Chocolate Mayo Cake (sounds weird but trust me, so moist and delicious) paired with Pecan Praline Buttercream; six layers of Electric Red Velvet paired with Vanilla Buttercream; and three thick layers of Bourbon Cheesecake to finish this tower of deliciousness off. All recipes follow! Make this cake, regret nothing.

Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

Vintage Chocolate Mayo Cake

Based on Old-Fashioned Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake by Jill O'Connor in her awesome book Cake, I Love You (highly recommended!!!!), this cake is spongey and dark, not too sweet, and so incredibly moist. 

2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (60g) cocoa powder
1/4 cup (20g) black cocoa powder
1/3 cup (30g) whole milk powder (optional)
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 cups (400g) sugar
2 eggs at room temp
1 cup (240g) mayonnaise at room temp
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups coffee, boiling

Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Prep two 3" deep 6" round pans.

Whisk to combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar and eggs at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the mayonnaise and vanilla, beating until incorporated.

Reducing the speed to low, add in half of the dry ingredients and mix until no streaks are left. Increase the speed to medium and add half of the hot coffee, mixing until it's all been absorbed by the batter. Repeat with the second half of the dry ingredients and the remaining coffee. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat on medium for another 10 seconds or so to make sure the mixture is totally homogenous.

Divide the batter between your prepped pans and bake for 45 minutes, at which point you should check every three minutes or so until the cake springs back when you poke it right in the middle.

 

Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

Electric Red Velvet Cake

This cake is adapted from Rose Levy-Beranbaum's Rose Red Velvet Cake from her iconic book Rose's Heavenly Cakes. I amped up the color and it is... incredibly red. Like perhaps a touch too red? If you are going for a serious fire engine color on your cake then follow this recipe exactly! If not, you can probably get away with reducing the amount of food coloring by a solid 1/4-1/3, maybe even 1/2. It is pretty though!

2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour
2 Tbsp whole milk powder (optional)
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup canola oil
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick; 57g) unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 cup (115g) sour cream
1/2 cup (115g) milk
3 egg whites at room temp
1/4 cup no-taste red food coloring (can also opt to do 2-3 Tablespoons for less of a punch of coloring)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Prep two 3" deep 6" round pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together to combine. Set aside.

Place the oil and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium for about one minute to combine. Add the dry ingredients, sour cream, and milk and mix on low until the mixture is moistened throughout. Raise to medium speed and beat 1-2 minutes to help build up the structure of the cake.

Add the egg whites in two additions, beating on medium for 30 seconds after each addition. Finally, add the vanilla and food coloring and beat on medium until completely combined.

Divide the batter between your prepped pans and bake for 30 minutes, at which point you should check every three minutes or so until the cake springs back when you poke it right in the middle.

Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

bourbon cheesecake for stacking

I turned to Toba Garrett's classic The Well-Decorated Cake for a solid cheesecake that would taste amazing, and made some adjustments to ensure that the cake would layer up nicely. Plus, bourbon!

32oz (four 8-oz packages; 908g) cream cheese at room temp
3/4 (90g) cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs at room temp
14oz (392g) sweetened condensed milk
4 Tbsp bourbon
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C) and prep four 5" round pans by greasing with shortening and lining the bottom with a round of parchment paper and the sides with a strip (or several) of parchment paper. Spray with baking spray as a finishing touch. Take four 7"-9" round pans or a large square pan that will fit all four 5" pans and set aside.

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on low speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl down halfway through. Add the flour and sugar and incorporate fully, then add the eggs one at a time, beating to fully incorporate each egg before adding the next.

Add the sweetened condensed milk, bourbon, and vanilla and continue to beat on low for another 30 seconds or so.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Place each inside one of the larger pans you put aside earlier and pour water into the larger pan until it comes up to the height of the cheesecake batter—this will help distribute the heat throughout the cheesecake as it bakes. Place the double-panned cheesecakes in the oven and bake for 45 minutes, then reduce the heat in the oven to 275° and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Finally, turn the oven off and let the cheesecakes cool slowly inside the oven. All of this helps to avoid cracks in your cheesecake, important for structural integrity!

Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

pecan praline buttercream

This amount is just for the pecan praline buttercream that goes with the chocolate cake; the whole cake took 2 lbs of butter's worth of buttercream to accomplish, so plan accordingly!

2-3 cups buttercream
200g (1 2/3 cups) pecans
20g (1 1/2 Tbsp) water
50g (1/4 cup) sugar
3g (1 1/2 tsp) butter

Put nuts in a microwave safe bowl and set aside. Prepare a sheet pan with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat. Bring to a boil for one minute, then turn off the heat; you should have a clear syrup in the pan.

At the same time, microwave the nuts for at least 1 minute until they are piping hot. Add the nuts to the hot syrup and, turning off the heat, stir until the syrup turns white and crystalizes on the nuts. Turn the heat back on to medium and wait for a minute or so until you notice the sugar start to melt.

Stir continuously (but slowly) as the hot sugar caramelizes. If you smell smoke at any point, immediately reduce the flame because you're starting to burn the nuts before they have time to roast.

When the sugar has turned into caramel, turn the heat off and pour the nuts onto the prepared sheet pan. Spread them out to allow for quick cooling and cool until just a little warm to the touch. 

Transfer the nuts to a vitamix or food processor and blitz them until they release their oil and become a runny paste. Cool to room temp and mix into your buttercream. Delicious!!
 

 

Now stack all of your elements into an insane tower of sugary yumminess and eat up!!

Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

That's it =) Enjoy the cake, and enjoy the Pulitzer-winning album too! 

Azara