I would apologize for the fact that all the photos for this post come off my iphone camera, but this cake needs to be talked about. Badly. And when I turned on my DSLR this morning as I pulled the eggs and butter out of the fridge, it flashed that terrible ‘low battery’ warning and then died. So I turned to my phone because waiting to bake until the battery charged just wasn’t going to happen.
But enough about cameras, let’s discuss cake.
This cake is a fluffy, light, yet somehow still moist (yes, I hate the word too) vanilla bean white cake with the smoothest, most delicious whipped vanilla frosting that tastes like ice-cream.
White cakes are interesting. Often they are dry, crumbly, and dense. The batters are temperamental. A high liquid content leaves them prone to curdling and we’ve all accidentally dropped the yolks into the egg whites as we separated them right? Right?? No, just me? Well now you know my secret. I make mistakes too.
But let me assure you that this cake is worth careful egg-separating, and ensuring you don’t add your liquids to the batter too quickly.
This is one of those cakes where you promise yourself you’ll only have a sliver and then the next thing you know, half of it has disappeared. Does that happen to anyone else? Please say yes.
This is one of those cakes people talk about for months. I first served this cake during a dinner party a friend threw in September. Three months later I’m still being reminded that I need to make this very cake for all upcoming birthdays and events. This cake will make you a lot of friends, and isn’t that why everyone bakes? Do me a favour and just agree.
This cake isn’t fancy, and it’s not the most show-stopping of cakes but the flavour and texture are perfect.
The recipe comes from my absolute favourite cake blog – Sweetapolita, and since I made absolutely no changes to her already flawless recipe I’ll let you head over to her blog for the exact details on how to make this cake.
Instead, I want to talk about cake decorating.
Look, I understand. Really I do. Layer cakes are intimidating. You have to prepare pans with parchment paper, somehow flip out still warm cakes without ripping them in half. Then wait patiently while they cool. Level, mask, frost, pray to the cake gods that you have enough frosting to fill all your layers and cover your entire cake….
But I’m here to tell you it’s easy. Seriously, if I can do it, you can too. All it takes is a bit of patience, some precision, and the right tools. I like to use a rubber spatula, an offset pallet knife, and a straight pallet knife. A bench scraper is helpful in getting those elusive perfect edges.
It all begins with good pan preparation. I know this seems tedious and a bit excessive, but trust me when I say it makes a world of difference. After you preheat the oven, and before you do anything else you absolutely must, must MUST do the following: generously butter your pans, drop in a tablespoon or so of flour and coat the sides of your pan with flour before tapping out the excess. Now for the fun part. Place the pan on a piece of parchment paper and trace it. Cut out the circle, then place it in the bottom of the pan. This guarantees a perfect release. Every. Single. Time. No more ripped cakes, no more banging, tapping, or prying. Just loosen the edges when they come out of the oven, and then flip them onto a cooling rack.
While your cakes cool, make your frosting.
Let me take a moment to say, that I love frosting.
I’m pretty certain I make cake, simply so I can eat frosting. This frosting in particular will change your life. I frequently state that foods will change your life. I know that. But you should know that while I say it often, I don’t say it lightly.
Once your cakes have cooled, grab a turntable (You can find a cheap, ugly, but ultimately functional one at Michael’s for around $20. No it wont last forever, but if you’re like me and cheap, it’ll work), and place a smear of frosting on the turntable. Then plop your cake layer down on top. The frosting keeps it in place, and keeps your cake from sliding off the turntable.
Then cover the top with a generous layer of frosting, before laying on the second layer. Repeat with any additional layers, though I only used two in this instance.
Using a rubber spatula, press frosting onto the sides. Then hold the straight pallet knife against the side of the cake and slowly spin the turntable to spread across the sides of the cake. Get a thin layer on there, and then throw the cake into the fridge for about half an hour.
When the frosting has set, pull it out and throw on a thicker layer. This is where I like to hold a bench scraper lightly against the side as I turn the cake to get really smooth edges.
Decorate as you see fit. Tonight, since this is for a friend’s birthday, I chose sprinkles. You can’t go wrong with sprinkles right?
Just agree with me. It’ll be easier that way.