Sunday, June 9, 2013

Vanilla Cake

My cousin Matteo is one of the coolest 12-year-olds I know with one flaw: he doesn't like chocolate.

Crazy, right?

For some reason I didn't know this until the topic of celebrating his recent birthday came up. I volunteered to make his cake and asked for an idea of what kind of cake to make him. She told me vanilla because he doesn't like chocolate. It took me a while (nearly all vanila cake recipes I found were for cupcakes and I'm not expert enough to translate baking times from one size to the other) but I finally found a vanilla cake recipe (I almost just decided to make a white cake and add a couple tablespoons of vanilla to it).

Vanilla Cake with Confectioners' Frosting (Source)

Vanilla Cake:

3 cups (345 grams) sifted all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups (350 grams) granulated white sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) room temperature milk

Confectioners' Frosting:

4 cups (460 grams) confectioners' sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted
1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons milk or light cream
Assorted food colors (if desired) (I didn't color the frosting)

Vanilla Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) with rack in center of oven. Butter or spray with a non-stick vegetable spray, two 9-inch x 2 inch (23 x 5 cm) cake pans. Then line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper, then spray the paper. (I didn't spray and instead just lined the bottoms of the pans with wax paper. When I needed to loosen the cakes from the pans, I just ran a butter knife along the edge. It did the trick.
  2. In a bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  3. In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, (or with a hand mixer) beat the butter until soft and creamy (about 1-2 minutes). Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture (in three additions) and milk (in two additions), beginning and ending with the flour. 
  4. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans, smoothing the tops with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Bake 27 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in center. 
  5. Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool, in their pans, for about 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto a greased rack. Remove the parchment or wax paper and re-invert cakes so that tops are right side up. Cool completely before frosting. 

Confectioners Frosting:

  1. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. 
  2. Beat in the vanilla extract. 
  3. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
  4. Add about 2 tablespoons of the milk and beat to combine. 
  5. Then, on high speed, beat frosting until it is light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add more milk or powdered sugar, as needed, to get the right spreading consistency.
  6. If desired, color the frosting with food color


Place one cake layer (bottom side facing up) on your serving plate and spread with about 3/4 cup (180 ml) of frosting. Place the other cake layer (bottom side facing up) on top of the frosting and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. (I put both layers on top side facing up and it didn't seem to make a difference.) Can place some of the frosting in a piping bag and pipe a decorative border around the top of the cake.

Cake can be covered and stored at room temperature for several days. Serves 10-12 people.

The birthday boy and his cake

Dig in!
I got lots of compliments on this from the family (more than with a cake from a mix). Matteo and his family took home the leftovers. Anne (his mom) told me that they took the leftovers to his school when they celebrated his birthday and a girl who doesn't particularly care for cake had one bite and was in love with the frosting. Needless to say, I was giddy over this.

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