Brownie Espresso Icebox Layer Cake with Nutella Frosting

I started this little blog a year ago tomorrow! Whoo!

I honestly cannot believe it. I have to post this a day early, because during my blog’s actual birthday tomorrow, I will be flying somewhere over Europe.

June 17th, 2011 this blog was born, with my first post about a Devil’s Food Cake I baked for my brother’s birthday. That is a post I will certainly not be linking you back to, because it is somewhat very embarrassing. Particularly the photos, ones which I took with my iPhone, and with a flash. I’m actually cringing just thinking about them.

So now I’m going to tell you the story, about how I started my blog.

A year ago, before all of this started, I was studying a Bachelor of Arts at university and majoring in Public Relations. I had always loved to bake, and ever since I was 12 I kept a little notebook of recipes and photos of things I had made. But I never even considered turning my love of baking into a career.

Until I started a PR internship, that is. As all the girls around the office were on their phones all day, schmoozing the media while I was sitting at my computer churning out press releases, and it struck me suddenly, like a slap across the face. What on earth am I doing? I don’t want to do this. I hate this. I just want to bake cakes.
Literally. I don’t even like cakes, but I remember whining down the phone to my friend, “What am I doing??? I just want to bake cakes!”.

So I started Butter. I still wanted to finish the 6 months I had left of my degree because I enjoyed studying, but I needed a baking outlet, and this blog is what I created. This past year, I have spent most of the days I have off baking. Baking and baking and taking photos and then baking some more. And although the photo styling can get annoying, I love the baking part!

When I started Butter, I was in a relationship which has now ended, but I will be forever grateful for the encouragement and support I received. He pushed me to start blogging, was my number one promoter and builder of prop boards, and my photos would probably still be of iPhone + flash quality if it were not for him! Thank you.

And thank you to you! All of you. To my subscribers, to my readers, to anyone who pops by occasionally to take a look or leave a comment or try a recipe. I thank you, because it is you who makes this blog special, it is you who makes me smile when I read your lovely comments, and it is all of you who have helped Butter grow and develop and morph into what it is today. Because I honestly thought no one would ever read Butter, and everyday it just surprises me as it grows. I still can’t believe that people are actually interested in the ramblings I come up with, you know?

I have learned so much and gained so much from blogging! I have learned a little about photography and styling my photos, bought myself a DSLR, tried out hundreds (literally) of recipes, had many successes and a few errors, and made blogging friends! I am even lucky enough to say that I am going to have a baking day in Berlin with a blogging friend I made through Butter in July!

Since starting my blog, I got a job at a cupcake shop and now I wake up at 5 or 6am a few mornings a week to bake the beautiful cupcakes they sell. I have never been a morning person, but look what loving something does to you!

I also started studying patisserie, and am now halfway through my course. I enjoy it so much, going to culinary school and baking, that I know deep inside I’m on the right path for me.

So today I have baked a cake, for Butter’s birthday (or is it an anniversary?), for myself to celebrate a year of following my baking dreams, and most importantly for you, to thank you for visiting and making Butter what it is today. I hope you enjoy it :-)

PS. Like I mentioned at the top of this post, I am leaving for Europe tonight! I will be gone for a month, but I will still be posting as often as I can. And Butter has now expanded over onto Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, so come over and follow me there too!


For the pastry cream
Adapted from Flour.

2 1/2 cups milk (600ml)
1 cup sugar (200g)
4 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
8 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

To make the pastry cream, pour the milk into a medium saucepan and scald the milk – heat it until bubbles appear around the edges, but it is not boiling.

While the milk is heating, mix together the sugar, flour and salt in a small bowl.

In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla. Whisk the flour mixture to the egg yolks slowly, a couple of tablespoons at a time. It will be thick and pasty.

Once the milk is heated, slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Once it is all incorporated, pour it back into the saucepan and heat over a medium heat. Whisk continuously and vigorously until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil.

Once the mixture is thickened and just beginning to bubble, whisk vigorously for 10 seconds and then turn off the heat, This cooks out the taste of flour.

Pour the pastry cream into a heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, putting the plastic right onto the surface of the pastry cream. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until cold.

For the brownie base
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert.

150g unsalted butter (5.4 oz)
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain flour

Preheat the oven to 170 C (325 F) and grease and line an 11 inch springform tin with baking paper.

Melt the butter in a large bowl in the microwave.

Add the sugar, stir to well combine and microwave for a further 30 seconds. Add the cocoa, salt and vanilla, stir well and microwave for a further 30 seconds. Stir very well until all the ingredients are combined.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon or spatula between each addition.

Add the flour and mix it in until it clears. Then beat the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon for 40 strokes.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and smooth out the top.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the center is set and a toothpick inserted has moist crumbs. Set aside to cool.

For the layer biscuits
500g plain flour
50g margarine
150g caster sugar
3 tbsp honey
1 tsp soda
2 eggs
pinch salt

Turn up the oven to 180 C (350 F) and line as many large trays as you have with baking paper (you’ll need 8 in total but can always rotate them).

To make the biscuit dough, knead all the ingredients together by hand or in a food processor.

Divide the dough into 8 equal parts. On a floured surface, roll out each ball of dough into a very thin round, until it is the size of a dinner plate. Place a 11 inch springform tin (the same one you used for your brownie base) upside down on top of the rolled out dough and trim around it to remove the excess.

Place the rolled rounds of dough onto the baking trays and bake for 6 – 8 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool.

For the espresso Nutella buttercream
Chilled pastry cream (from above)
250g unsalted butter, softened (1 1/4 cups)
1/4 cup Nutella
1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is very light and fluffy.

Add the pastry cream, a tablespoon at a time, beating well between each addition.

Add the Nutella and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the coffee, a couple of tablespoons at a time, beating well between each addition. Scrape down the bowl and give everything a good stir with a spatula.

For the Nutella ganache frosting
50g milk chocolate (1/4 cup)
140g Nutella (1/2 cup)

Melt the chocolate in a small microwave bowl in 30 second bursts, stirring between each burst.

Mix in the Nutella and set aside.

To assemble the cake
Brownie base
Layer biscuits
Espresso Nutella buttercream
Nutella ganache frosting

Set the brownie base on a cake stand. Top with about half a cup of buttercream and spread it evenly around using an offset spatula.

Top with a layer biscuit, pushing down gently. Then spread another half cup of buttercream over the biscuit. Repeat the process until all the biscuits and buttercream are used, finishing with a layer of buttercream.

Microwave the Nutella ganache for 30 seconds and give it a good stir.

Pour it onto the cake and spread it out to the edges using an offset spatula.

I’ve topped mine with a few garnishes I made by simply melting some chocolate and piping it into shapes.

Keep refrigerated. The cake is best eaten after at least one day in the fridge. Serves 10.

31 Thoughts on “Brownie Espresso Icebox Layer Cake with Nutella Frosting

  1. Danielle on June 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm said:

    Thankyou! I am currently completing honours in psychology and like you all i want to do is bake! I am finishing off this year, but your blog is getting me through it. Thankyou for the procastination and inspiration! Can’t wait to see Butter taking on Europe.

    • Haha thanks Danielle, its nice to hear about someone else that feels the same way I did! I hope that you too one day follow your baking dreams! :-)

  2. #1fan on June 16, 2012 at 2:47 pm said:

    Congratulations, you should be very proud of your work.

  3. Jordan on June 16, 2012 at 2:53 pm said:

    congrats! your blog is one of my favorite baking blogs. i can’t wait to see what great recipes you show us this next year.

  4. What pretty pictures! Have a super trip and I’ll see you in Berlin. :)

    And it was fun to read the story of your blog. Interesting!

  5. Oh that is too funny, I started my blog almost exactly a year ago as well! Mine’s just a few days older than yours. :) Good for you for realizing what you truly wanted though, that’s really admirable. Kind of like you, I have a year left of finishing my bachelor’s degree in politics and economics, even though I know I don’t want to pursue any career that might have to use those fields of study… oh well, I’m just going to finish it up, and hopefully see if I can direct myself on a path like you that gets me closer to working within the food industry.

    By the way, love the icebox cake. I’ve never made one before, and I have to say I think this one is one of the most stunning ones I’ve come across.

    • Hey Amy! that’s so funny that we started ur blogs around the same time, and we both don’t really want to use our degrees! It’s good that you at least know, what it is that you don’t want to do I guess, haha! And as long as you’re enjoying your study you should totally finish it :-) college life is the best!
      And the icebox cake is based on a Polish recipe, which is why it looks so different!
      Thanks for all of your feedback, I love it :-)

  6. Madison on June 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm said:

    I made this cake last night as a break from my law study. I had so so so much fun baking it! Never made anything so intense before. Thank you for giving me a fun night and a nice break from the textbooks :) Also made your pikelets the other day. Your recipes are awesome and so easy to follow! Keep it up :)

    • Haha WOW I’m so impressed that you made it! My mum was readint my post and when she saw how long the recpe was she was all “whoa, who on earth is ever going to make this?”. Haha and you did! I’m so happy! What a long study break that would have been, lol!
      Glad you like the pikelets too :-)

  7. The cake looks so fantastic and unique! Happy one year! You are so lucky to be out of Melbourne’s winter and right into summer in Europe. Have a cupcake- filled trip!

    • Hi! Thanks :-) and I know I’m super lucky, it is my first morning here and the weather is so sunny and beautiful, I don’t have to wear a million Melbourne winter layers!

  8. We saying same comments. Thank you Butter Baking’s writer, photographer, editor Natasha! 😀 You are very good blogger! 😉 And you are blogs ‘happy happy birthday’! :)

  9. Pingback: >Brown Butter Lemon Bars | Butter

  10. Hello, just found your blog and loved the story of how you started and how far you’ve come. Like you, I was in the murky world of PR (but for 15 years, imagine!) but redundancy set me free :-) Started my own small cupcake business, it’s hard sometimes but beats sitting in an office any day (though I still have to do that sometimes to pay the bills, sadly). Your cakes look amazing… drool…

    • Hi Jen! Wow its so nice to hear from someone who has been in a somewhat similar situation, and I just had a look at your blog and read that you lived in Poland for a few years teaching English? My mum is Polish and I lived there for a little while and visit often, so I guess we have that in common too! Sometimes its funny how life works and gives you a push in the right direction, and I love the way you say that redundancy “set you free”!! Good luck with the cupcake business, I’ll be following along! :-)

  11. Dzien dobry then! :-) think that’s right, Polish is a bit rusty now but lots of Polish people in the UK so sometimes have the chance to give it a go again 😉 I was in Wroclaw, where was your family? Absolutely, I have learned that everything happens for a reason, even though sometimes it feels harsh. With redundancy though, I woke up the next day feeling fantastic and light hearted and is if life was an adventure again! Look forward to reading more of your blog…

    • Haha dzien dobry! My family is around Lublin and in Warsaw but Krakow is my absolutely favourite city :-)
      So refreshing to hear someone dealing with life so well!! Love that you saw life as an adventure again! Attitude and a positive outlook are so important 😀

  12. Hi Natasha, just found your website – it is amazing. What lens do you use? And do you have studio lighting or natural? Cheers, Nicky in the Outback

    • Hey Nicky! Thanks so much for the kind words! 😀 The lens I use is a Canon 50mm 1.8 and I love it! And I use all natural light, so it’s a bit hit or miss! :-)

  13. Just discovered your gorgeous blog and read your story – congratulations on following your dreams! Now off to browse for more of your delicious recipes – am a little bit in love with them :-)

    • Oh thank you so much! :-) Hope you like and try out the recipes! I just had a look at your blog and I love it – I’m following along now!
      ps. cute blog name, too! :-)

  14. Wow, that is an inspiring story. I’ve only recently started blogging – and I’m aspiring to have an amazing blog like this! 😀 Keep going! (:

  15. Wow…. what an amazing blog, I really love your work.

  16. shirley simpson on August 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm said:

    amazing blog. awesome pics. how about some more eggless bakes. I know u aren’t a cake person. read thru that. but your Indian readers like me would be definitely interested in eggless cakes and cookies. imagine butter taking over asia too.

    • Thank you Shirley! I have a couple of vegan (eggless) things on here, and shortbread is always great too! Happy that you’re enjoying the blog, and I’ll keep eggless treats in mind :-)

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