Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Piece of Cake!

(above) Frosted Yellow Layer Cake with Strawberry Jam Filling
Sunday was my sister's 20th birthday and a brilliant excuse to make a layer cake. While I strongly believe that cakes should be an equally everyday sort of thing as well as celebratory, for some reason I find myself making layer cakes only during celebrations. Why? I have no idea. Maybe it has to do with my cupcake obsession. I mean, cupcakes are cute, portable, delicious, and easy to share, so it makes sense why I like to make cake in cupcake form. Nonetheless, I rarely make layer cakes and in fact, this time was the first time I had ever made a cake with 1. a shell border and 2. a filling. Since my sister doesn't like chocolate (weird, I know, but more chocolate for me!), I made a yellow cake with vanilla frosting and a strawberry jam filling. I used a cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen.The taste and appearance were both acceptable but I think it could have been a tad moister. Then again, I baked the cake two days in advance and wrapped it in plastic wrap to store it in the fridge, so I can't exactly give an accurate review. After making Our Best Bite's delicious chocolate frosting, I decided to use the vanilla version of it. I have to say, I think that the chocolate version was better. However, that could just be because of the fact I like chocolate more than vanilla in general anyway. With the vanilla version, you really have to make sure that you use high quality butter or else it will taste really cheap. In addition, you may not want to dump the whole teaspoon of vanilla extract in all at once like I did because it changes the color of the frosting to an off-white. Other than that, the frosting had a wonderful texture and a not-too-sweet flavor.

Side note: Thank you all for your wonderful comments! I really appreciate all of them and keep them coming!

(above) Buttermilk is pretty much nonexistent where I live so improvising was nessasary. I used Joy the Baker's tip of mixing 1 cup of milk with 1 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Taking Joy's advice, I mixed the cream of tartar with 2 tablespoons of the milk before dumping the rest in to avoid lumps.

(above) Cake pan ready to go! Give it a couple of taps against the counter to get rid of air bubbles.

(above) The cake, all baked up! I was glad that the cake didn't dome too much.

(above) I halved the recipe and only made one layer. I leveled the top of the cake using a long, serrated knife. I put 4 toothpicks around the cake to help 'guide' me so that I could split the cake in half relatively evenly.

(above) Cooking the flour base of the frosting.

(above) Pipe a ring of frosting around the first layer of cake so that the filling will not squish out.

(above) The cake is filled with strawberry jam. If the jam is too hard to spread, you can pop it in the microwave for a couple of seconds.

(above) On goes the top layer!

(above) So you want to frost on a 'crumb coat' or thin layer of frosting first. It should look messy and highly unattractive. This is ok. We will cover it up later. Pop the cake in the freezer or fridge for a couple minutes so the frosting can harden a little bit.

(above) Using a spatula, spread on the rest of the frosting (unless you want to make a piped border).
(above) This was my first time making a shell border! I practiced on parchment paper before I decorated the cake. Comment if you would like me to post a how-to or demonstration.

(above) I didn't have enough frosting (even though I tried to save some!) so I added in some butter and icing sugar to create a butter cream. I added in some blue food coloring as well and gave it a mix.
(above) The cake all frosted and decorated! I used a homemade parchment paper icing bag to do the lettering.

(above) A cross section of the cake. You can see the jam filling and the blue shell border.
(above) A close-up of the shell border. I think I did a pretty good job considering it was my first time.

(above) A piece of cake! (pun intended) At least I think I'm funny =D

Best Yellow Layer Cake
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Makes two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers, and, in theory, 22 to 24 cupcakes, two 8-inch squares or a 9×13 single-layer cake
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.
  3. Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.
Perfect Cupcake Frosting and Filling
Recipe from Our Best Bites
Generously frosts 12 cupcakes
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 C milk
1/2 C real butter
1/2 C sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or other flavor if you wish
  1. Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. Let it cook, while stirring, until it looks like pudding. Strain and then let it cool completely to room temperature or chill it in the fridge.
  2. In an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy.
  3. Then while beating, add in the thickened milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat on the highest speed for around 7 minutes or until light and fluffy. Use it to fill cupcakes or other pastries, or as a frosting on top.
Notes: For the frosting, add the vanilla extract a little at a time (maybe in 1/4 teaspoon intervals). You may not wish to dump the entire teaspoon of vanilla extract in because it changes the color of the frosting slightly. In addition, this recipe makes just enough to frost a one-layer round nine inch cake.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lisa!

    I was so happy to see 2 posts in one week! Now that school is out, I think I'll be able to update more often as well. You mention a tutorial on how to make the piped shell border; I would love one, seeing my piping skills have much room for improvement.Your cake looks beautiful, by the way!

    One last thing: I have something waiting for you on my blog. (Towards the end of my latest post)!