Hostess Cupcake Layer Cake is a layer cake version of the classic Hostess cupcake made 100% from scratch. It’s fun, nostalgic, and the best tasting cake ever!
So my son turned 11! It happened a couple of weeks ago, and this was his happy birthday cake. If you’ve followed along here for a while, you know that last year he Googled what kind of cakes he wanted me to make for his birthday for 2 different parties, and we ended up at this light, delicious Strawberries and Cream Red Velvet Cake, and this ever-so-decadent S’mores cake. That being said, he knew what he wanted this year too, and of course, he wasn’t going cupcakes again. For him, it’s always gotta be a layer cake. 🙂
I usually roll with cupcakes because they’re so easy and less fussy. In some ways, however, layer cakes are easier because you’ve only got one big cake to decorate instead of 24 smaller ones. It makes perfect sense, and when the cake is filled and decorated with the same icing, and covered in ganache like this, it really doesn’t get much easier.
My son came up with this idea based on some mini Hostess-style cupcakes Whole Foods Market had in the bakery. They were giving away samples of them one day when we were walking through, and we had to try them. They were some of the best tasting cupcakes ever, so he decided he wanted a layer cake like that, with a “marshmallow middle”, but decorated a little differently. I envisioned a gigantic Hostess cupcake, except with the icing squiggles all around so everybody got some on their piece. We compromised on the decorations, and ended up with this. My son is a genius. 🙂
I’ve made Homemade Hostess Cupcakes before, but I wanted to do this cake differently. I used a Devil’s Food cake recipe from Alice Medrich that I’d gotten from school this time around, because it was one of the best tasting cake recipes I’ve tasted. Last time, I used store bought marshmallow creme, but this time I decided to make my own. It made a huge, finger-lickin’ good difference, too! The Homemade Marshmallow Creme was used in the marshmallow buttercream icing for the filling and the decorations, and was this stuff ever G-O-O-D. I’m not a huge buttercream frosting person by any means, but this was light, airy, and dee-licious! 🙂
I like to do things in stages, so I baked the cakes the night before, and filled them the next day.
Once filled, I made the ganache and poured it over the top. I wanted the sides to be open so that luscious marshmallowy goodness would be visible. Don’t you just want to take a finger to it?
I let the ganache set before I piped the rest of the marshmallow buttercream on top, and there you have it…a gigantic, 100% from scratch Hostess Cupcake Layer Cake!
I’ll have to admit, I loved everything about this cake except the lighting in my photos. While editing, if I went too light, the white was day-glow, and if I went to dark, the chocolate wasn’t the right color and the whites were dull. Normally if I’m not happy with the photos, I’ll make the dish again and do a re-shoot, but I had to share this now. It’s seriously one of the best tasting things I’ve ever made, and I need to pass it on. This cake is fun and nostalgic, and one of the greatest ideas my son’s ever had. Let’s see what he comes up with next year. 🙂
- 7 ounces (2 cups) sifted cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1½ ounces (1/2 cup) sifted cocoa powder, natural or Dutch process (I used Valhrona).
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- ½ cup sour cream, room temperature*
- ½ cup coffee, cooled*
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten*
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature*
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1½ cups Homemade Marshmallow Creme, or store bought
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon milk or cream (I used cream)
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped fine*
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine*
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- Position an oven rack to the lower ⅓ of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom of (2) 9" cake pans with cooking spray, then line each with a parchment round. Spray the parchment round and sides with cooking spray, and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder with the lukewarm water until the cocoa powder has dissolved. Set aside to cool. In another small bowl, whisk the sour cream, coffee, and vanilla. Set aside.
- Place the softened butter in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until creamy, then add the sugars and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 6-7 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium, and add the eggs slowly (about 1 minute), and continue to beat until the mixture is velvety, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the cocoa mixture and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
- Remove the mixing bowl from the mixer stand. Add the sifted flour mixture in four parts, alternating with the sour cream mixture in three parts, stirring with a rubber scraper by hand after each addition until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed gently with your finger and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then unmold and continue to cool completely on the wire rack.
- Place the marshmallow creme and butter in a medium bowl and beat on medium speed until creamy. Add the sugar and pinch of salt, and mix until fluffy. Blend in the teaspoon of cream until smooth and creamy. Add more cream if you feel that it hasn't reached the desired consistency.
- Place a large saute pan filled halfway with water on the stove top and heat over medium heat until warmed. Turn off the heat. Place the chopped chocolate and the cream in a heat proof bowl, and place the bowl in the warm water. Stir the chocolate and cream continually with a rubber scraper until the mixture has emulsified. Remove from the water and allow to cool until it has thickened slightly and is pouring consistency.
- Using a serrated knife or a cake leveler, remove the rounded tops off of each cake layer as level as possible so that the layers are flat on top.
- Place a few pieces of waxed paper on your cake stand or serving platter, and place the bottom layer over that. Pour ⅔ of the marshmallow buttercream on the top of the bottom layer, and spread to within ¼" of the edges. Turn the second cake layer upside down so the bottom of the cake is now the top with the trimmed side in the middle. This will make the top of your cake perfectly level. When the ganache has reached the right pourable consistency, pour it over the cake, spreading it gently to help it over the sides. Let the chocolate set before decorating, about 30 minutes to an hour at least.
- Place the remaining marshmallow buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a #7 tip, and pipe the Hostess "squiggles" around the edges, and a little decorated squiggle in the middle. If you have any buttercream left over, pipe some in between the cake layers where ganache hasn't covered to make the filling more visible. Remove the waxed paper from the edges, serve, and enjoy!
The cakes can be made the day ahead, and stored in an airtight container or wrapped well and kept at room temperature.
The marshmallow creme and ganache can also be made in advance. Simply warm the ganache to pourable consistency before ready to use.
*Buttermilk may be substituted for the sour cream.
*For the coffee, I used ½ cup boiling water and added 1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder and stirred until dissolved. You can also use ½ cup of strongly brewed coffee.
*To get eggs to room temperature faster, place whole eggs in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 minutes.
*To get butter to room temperature faster, cut it up into small cubes and let sit out at room temp.
*For the ganache, you may use all semi-sweet or all bittersweet chocolate, if desired.
Cake recipe adapted from [Tante Marie Cooking School, San Francisco, CA, via Alice Medrich].
Marshmallow Buttercream adapted from Annie's Eats.
Ganache recipe by Flavor the Moments.