Books & Baking – The Night Circus

Hellllllo, lovelies! I’m back today for another round of Books & Baking. For this edition, I’ve chosen the book The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It was one of the first recipes I found when searching for ideas for this new blog feature, but it’s a relatively complicated recipe. So, I tried a few other ideas first. Check out the first two installments of Books & Baking here: House of Salt and Sorrows Heartless

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Book: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Read my full review here!

This story takes place over many, many years which was something I really enjoyed. Our two main characters, Celia and Marco,  were ones that I completely fell in love with. Celia grew so much throughout the book. She was caring and clever and I adored her. Marco had me going back and forth with my feelings. I didn’t always like the choices he made. But ended up really liking him once he and Celia finally met. I also really liked how developed some of the supporting characters was. This book is atmospheric and mysterious. Morgenstern is an incredible writer and this is a must-read.

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong being a dreamer.”

“Life takes us to unexpected places sometimes. The future is never set in stone, remember that.”

“Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon . . . is not the dragon the hero of his own story?”

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”

“Secrets have power. And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it’s really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.”

Baking: Darkness to Light Cake  

Find the recipe here!

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For this installment,  I went with a cake that had Night Circus vibes as a whole rather than something that was actually mentioned in the book.

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.”

As I said above, this was a pretty complicated recipe. There are three different kinds of cake, frosting, and chocolate ganache. So, stick with me for the instructions!

White Cake Ingredients

Cake flour
Baking powder
Salt
Unsalted, softened butter
Sugar
Vanilla extract
Whole milk
Eggs whites

Caramel Cake Ingredients

Sugar
Water
All-purpose flour
Baking powder
Salt
Unsalted, softened butter
Egg
Whole Milk

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

All-purpose flour
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Baking soda
Baking powder
Salt
Unsalted, softened butter
Light brown sugar
Sugar
Eggs
Vanilla extract
61% Semisweet chocolate, melted
72% Bittersweet chocolate, melted
Whole milk
Water

Caramel Buttercream Ingredients

Unsalted, softened butter
Confectioners sugar, sifted
Vanilla extract
Caramel syrup (from cake recipe)

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients

61% Semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
72% Bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Heavy cream
Corn syrup

White Cake Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease cake pan. Mix cake flour, baking powder, and salt, then set aside. Combine butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Mix milk and vanilla extract. Add flour mix and milk mix to the butter mix, alternating each time, starting and ending with the flour mix. Mix fully before adding the next addition. Whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into the batter. Pour mixture into the greased baking dish and bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Caramel Cake Instructions

Start by making caramel syrup. Mix 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water into a pan on the stove. Cook on medium heat until sugar melts and the mixture comes to boil. Let syrup boil until it turns dark golden, then remove from heat and add another 1/2 cup boiling water. Let syrup cool before using.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking dish. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt then set aside. Combine remaining sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Slowly pour in about 3 tablespoons of caramel syrup, letting each incorporate fully before adding the next. Add in the egg and beat until combined. Add flour mix and milk mix to the butter mix, alternating each time, starting and ending with the flour mix. Pour batter into the baking dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Chocolate Cake Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the baking dish. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Combine sugars and butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs and beat until combined. Add in the vanilla and beat until combined. Pour in both melted chocolates and beat until combined. Add flour mix and milk mix to the butter mix, alternating each time, starting and ending with the flour mix. Add in a 1/4 cup boiling water and beat until combined. Pour batter into the baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Caramel Buttercream Instructions

Start with the butter, beat until soft and creamy. Add 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar at a time, fully incorporating before adding the next half cup. Add in vanilla extract and caramel syrup, mix until fully combined.

Chocolate Ganache Instructions

Do this after assembling the cake.
Place finely chopped chocolates in a bowl. Combine corn syrup and heavy cream in a pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Then, pour over chocolates, let sit for a moment, then stir to combine into a glaze. Let cool slightly.

Assembly Instructions

Level each cake layer so they are all flat and even sized. Place chocolate layer on the bottom. Spread a layer of caramel buttercream on top. Add caramel cake on top of the buttercream, then spread another layer of caramel buttercream on top. Add the final layer of white cake. If enough caramel buttercream is left, you may frost the rest of the cake with it. Or continue with the chocolate ganache. Pour the ganache on top of the cake. Use a spatula to guide the chocolate, but don’t spread with it or it may ruin the shiny the finish. Let sit to set at room temperature before serving the cake.

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I went a step further and added some white, vanilla icing around the sides to add a bit of black/white element to the outside of the cake. The original recipe suggested white chocolate plaques, but that was a bit out of my skillset so I went with some easier icing.

The verdict on this cake was decided to be absolutely delicious by myself and my husband. My daughter even tried some and liked it too. I would suggest making this for more than two adults and a one-year-old though, it was hard to finish it in a timely fashion. Regardless, the cake was super good and fun to make.

Is this a recipe you would attempt? Let me know in the comments if you try to make it!

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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