Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Vanilla Swiss Meringue ButtercreamMay 28, 2009 at 10:36 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, layer cakes, sweet things | 69 Comments
Did you see the birthday cake I made a few weeks ago for my friend’s little tiger? Well, I promised recipes, so now I am here to deliver. Tiger’s mum, my friend C, wanted a basic vanilla-on-vanilla– something that both the kids and the other mums at the party would like– so I began my quest for the right cake and frosting.
I have baked several fantastic cakes from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alicia Huntsman and Peter Wynne, and I really trust the recipes in the book. I’ve seen the authors’ Vanilla Buttermilk Cake make appearances on countless other blogs, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. This yellow cake is nice and moist, and has a great crumb that doesn’t fall apart when you level the layers or when you slice it up. It’s definitely a multi-purpose vanilla cake– just as good for something simple and homey as it is for something dressed-up and fancy.
C had asked for a buttercream frosting, and since I wanted something snow white, I knew it had to be either Swiss or Italian meringue-based. In the battle between the two, I generally side with the Swiss, only because no futzing with sugar syrups is required. The recipe below is pretty standard…I like its particular proportions because it’s not too sweet, and it’s really easy to work with. A basic Swiss meringue buttercream is the perfect canvas for making flavored frostings, if you are so inclined. Switch up the extracts, add melted chocolate, add coconut flakes…I could go on.
Tiger’s birthday cake was a big triple layer 10-incher, so I scaled up the recipes below. I overshot a bit, and wound up with enough extra batter and buttercream to make a two layer 6-inch cake for myself (oops, how’d that happen?!?). I didn’t have quite enough leftover buttercream to fill the layers of my little cake, so I used lemon curd and some smooshed up raspberries in the middle.
Vanilla Buttermilk Cake– makes an 8-inch layer cake
adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alicia Huntsman and Peter Wynne
4 whole large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 t vanilla extract
1 1/4 c buttermilk
3 c cake flour
2 c sugar
4 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
8 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
-Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray the bottom and sides of three 8-inch cake pans. Line with parchment rounds and grease.
-Place the eggs and the yolks in a medium bowl. Add the vanilla and 1/4 cup of buttermilk. Whisk well and set aside.
-Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a mixer; whisk to blend. Add the remaining 1 cup of buttermilk and the butter to the dry ingredients and with the mixer on low speed, blend together. Raise the mixer to medium speed and beat until light fluffy (about 2 minutes).
-Add the egg mixture in three additions, scrapping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Don’t overmix.
-Divide the batter among the three pans. Bake the cake layers for 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake layers cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out the cakes onto a wire rack and remove the paper from the bottoms. Cool completely before filling and frosting.
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream– makes about 6 cups
adapted from Martha Stewart
Note: Unless you like to go really heavy on the stuff, this is most likely more than you will need to fill and frost an 8-inch cake. I always like to be on the safe side with buttercream, however, because finding you are stuck without quite enough is incredibly annoying. Extra buttercream can be stored for a couple weeks and used to frost a half-batch of cupcakes.
1 c egg whites (from about 6 large eggs)
1 1/2 c sugar
pinch of salt
1 lb 4 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 t vanilla extract (or seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean)
squeeze of lemon juice
-Combine the egg whites, sugar and pinch of salt in a large metal bowl (I usually do this right in my stand mixer bowl). Put the bowl over a pot of simmering water (double boiler-style), and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. The mixture will feel hot to the touch.
-Transfer the hot mixture to your stand mixer and whip on high speed until it turns white and about doubles in size. This will take about six minutes. Beat in the vanilla and the lemon juice.
-Add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, on medium speed, mixing after each addition. Raise the speed and beat until smooth; this may take up to ten minutes. The mixture may appear curdled along the way; this is normal. Just keep beating and the mixture will become smooth again.
-Buttercream will keep, covered air-tight and refrigerated, for up to two weeks. Bring to room temperature, then beat on low speed before using.