First things first: This recipe came to my grandmother from the mother of the man who married her 3rd daughter. I’m sure I met her at some point but I have no recollection of the event. At any rate, this recipe takes some doing, so if you’re not up for a four-layer cake then stop reading right now and order one from Amazon or whatever.
A caveat before we get started: The process of making the filling requires good timing. I was so involved in getting it right that I didn’t stop to take pictures along the way. But don’t worry because you’re probably not skilled enough to do it anyway.
Here’s what you’ll need:
6 Eggs, separated
1 Cup Sugar
⅓ Cup Water
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 ⅓ Cups Cake Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
2 Cups Milk
⅓ Cup Cornstarch
½ tsp. Vanilla
½ Lb. Butter, softened
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Tbsp. Cocoa
This first part can be done by hand: Beat egg yolks until blended. Gradually add ½ cup of sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine water and vanilla, slowly add to yolk mixture and beat well.
In a separate bowl, sift together cake flour and baking powder. Fold into yolk mixture until well blended.
Using an electric mixer, because you don’t want to dislocate your shoulder, beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form. Add remaining ½ cup of sugar, two tablespoons at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form.
Pour batter over beaten whites and fold gently but thoroughly until no streaks of yellow or white are visible.
Pour batter into two 9” ungreased layer cake pans (I actually lined the bottom of the pans with parchment which were cut into circles using the pans as a template) and bake in a 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes (shockingly, this time was actually correct). Cool for about 15 minutes. Using a frosting spatula, or a table knife (nothing with a sharp point or edge), carefully separate the edges of the cakes from the sides of the pans and turn them over onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Once completely cooled, remove the parchment from the cake layers.
To make filling, heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. While milk is heating, beat egg with cornstarch,
and slowly add to heating milk temper the egg yolk/cornstarch mixture with about a ½ cup of the heated milk, then pour the tempered yolks into the pot stirring constantly until thickened. I cannot imagine that using the non-tempering method would work at all because the yolk/cornstarch mixture is very thick and would clump immediately upon hitting the hot milk—but I also don’t have the same ability to violate the laws of physics as my grandmother. Remove from heat, mix in vanilla and allow to cool completely.
In a separate bowl, cream softened butter while slowly adding powdered sugar. Pour in cold custard and continue beating until thoroughly mixed.
Cut cake layers crosswise in half, making four layers. Spread ⅔ of filling between layers, stacking cake in the process.
Add cocoa to remaining ⅓ of filling until thoroughly mixed. Spread over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle nuts on top and press into sides of cake.
Give half of this to your neighbors because ain’t no way you’ll be eating this entire monstrosity by yourself.