Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Super Yummy White Cake

Hubby and I were headed to see his ancient (95 year old) but very rockin' Grandpa this past weekend and since we hadn't been over in awhile, I wanted to take something special. My recent Pinterest obsession gave me some pretty good dessert ideas.

I saw this cake and was so wowed that I had to give it a try. My frosting job isn't quite as pro as the example, but it was my first go at the technique and God knows I am no Martha Stewart. I didn't have all of the ingredients to make the vanilla cake recipe, so I had to go on a hunt to find something that would work with what I had. This is the cake recipe I used:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven.

The cake turned out amazing! It was super dense and moist. The only drawback is it made just one round layer. I didn't have any more eggs, but next time I think I am going to make a quadruple recipe and make it a super tall layer cake. I am also thinking I would like a little more flavor, so I am thinking I may try to add some homemade lemon extract to give it a little extra zip.

As for the frosting, I used the following recipe (the same recipe she suggested for the original inspiration cake).

American Buttercream Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (salted, or unsalted)
1/4 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (best quality available)
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream, half and half or milk.

*Optional- As mentioned above, I like a cream cheese version of this frosting best. The cream cheese adds to the creamy texture, and cuts down on the sweetness just a bit. If desired, for a very light cream cheese flavor add 1/2 block (4 oz). cream cheese, leaving the other ingredients (as listed above) the same. For a more traditional cream cheese flavor, reduce the butter to 1/2 cup, and add 1 block (8 oz.) of cream cheese. If using a full block of cream cheese, you can reduce the cream or milk to 1 tablespoon total.

Flavoring options- An almost unlimited number of flavoring options can be added in addition to, or instead of the vanilla. Orange and/or lemon zest, citrus extracts, mint extract, coconut extract or the seeds of a vanilla bean are all wonderful options. In most cases I'll still add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, then 1/2 teaspoon of the other flavoring. For zest, add about 1 teaspoon fresh zest. For chocolate buttercream, add 1/2 cup (good quality) unsweetened cocoa powder.

* In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter (on medium speed) until completely smooth (30 seconds to a minute). (If you are adding cream cheese, add it now, then beat until smooth)
* Add salt (if needed).
* One cup at time, add 2 cups of powdered sugar, beating after each addition.
* Add vanilla, or other flavorings and beat to combine.
* Add about 1 tablespoon of cream, and continue beating.
* Add the remaining 2 cups powdered sugar, one at a time.
* Add an additional 1-2 tablespoons cream until desired consistency is reached. If you want to pipe the frosting on cupcakes, the frosting should be nice and thick. Continue to beat another minute or so. The frosting should now be smooth and fluffy.

* If your frosting is not smooth, it is likely because the butter was not fully smooth before adding the other ingredients.
* If your frosting will not hold up when piped on cupcakes, your frosting has too much liquid or is too warm. Put entire bowl of frosting in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and it will stiffen up. If it is still too thin, then add 1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar, beat well.

The frosting was perfect. I usually end up with something that tastes a little too powdered sugary. I made sure to sift my powdered sugar ahead of time and mix it for a really long time. I also added a splash of almond extract. It really complimented all of the vanilla goodness.

I highly recommend the combination of recipes. It was super yummy and a total crowd pleaser!

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