Saturday, 10 November 2012

Celebrations with a Vanilla Butter Birthday Cake

Monday was the celebration of Kris' birthday and I volunteered to bring cake. The week before I asked her what flavour would she like and she happily said vanilla or anything else nice but NOT mango because her family's already getting her a mango cake. Vanilla cake is such a simple and classic dessert that can undergo so many frosting makeovers (or eaten raw) and taste just as great. I've nearly forgotten how fond my memories of vanilla cakes were. One year, I opened the door to welcome my papa home from work and the first thing he said to me was 'Happy Birthday' with a vanilla cake covered entirely with colourful sprinkles. I was completely surprised and delightfully happy.

I've made vanilla cakes a couple of times before but I was still stressed about baking it. Instead of staying in my comfort zone, using the recipes I used to use, I decided to venture out and try a new recipe myself. There was no better person to go to than the vanilla cake guru, Sweetapolita. Gosh she's made so many stunning vanilla cakes that I was blinded by the choices that she's offering. I decided to go with her classic vanilla butter birthday cake as it fits the aim of my baking mission.
One thing that wasn't within my calculations was how much cake I was going to get out of this batter. This recipe could give you 3 individual cakes, and the main point was that I didn't need so many in the first place. I should've read the recipe carefully in the first place. The first time I have to admit that a cake monster like me was feeling so overwhelmed by the amount of cake I get from a recipe.

From reading my previous posts you probably would know that I'm scared of sugary, deadly sweet buttercreams. Normally by looking at a colour-tinged buttercream frosting outside a cake, I would shun away from it as far as I can. Luckily, Sweetapolita has also given me a fruity buttercream recipe that doesn't require any artificial colouring. I love this raspberry buttercream where it gives off the natural pinkish colour and the raspberries mask the deadly sweet flavour of th buttercream. Therefore, I was able to add more icing sugar than usual at ease.
This cake completely suits Kris as she's such a cute and bubbly person with a teenage girl still living inside her. This celebration was rather funny as nobody brought candles along so she had to blow them out with imaginary candles. How dreamy...

Classic Vanilla Butter Birthday Cake with Raspberry Buttercream

(adapted from Sweetapolita)

4 large eggs (separated), at room temperature
3 ½ cups (420g) sifted cake flour*
4 tsp (20g) baking powder
½ (3g) tsp salt
1 cup (227g/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (400g) granulated sugar, divided
2 tsp (10mL) pure vanilla extract (I used vanillin)
1 cup (250mL) milk, at room temperature
¼ tsp cream of tartar
*1 cup of cake flour = (1 cup plain flour - 2tsp) + 2tsp cornflour. Sift mixture 4-5 times till it's fully incorporated with each other.
1. Preheat oven to 180° C/160°C fan-forced. Butter and flour three - 8 inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment/baking paper and grease and flour parchment paper.

2. While eggs are still cold, separate them, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic warp and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using, about 30 mins.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add 1½ cups of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

5. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
6. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.
7. In the clean bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
8. With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over-mix the batter or it will deflate.
9. Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula.
10. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan gently. Once the cakes are completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for at least an hour (to make filling and frosting the cakes easier).
Raspberry Buttercream
200g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
2 tsp milk
½ tsp vanilla extract (I used vanillin)
pinch of salt
15ml raspberry puree (push through fine mesh to remove seeds)
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter till pale and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients except the puree. Mix on low speed for 1 minute to incorporate everything then beat on medium speed for approximately 6 minutes. Add the puree and beat until incorporated.
Note: This amount is a bit more than enough to frost one standard 8 inch cake. I sliced the cake in half and frosted the inner layers as well. You might want to double up the amount if you want to frost the whole three layered cake. You may add more icing sugar to get your desired sweetness.

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