I love projects. I love to come up with a game plan and then commit to it. I also love giving my projects a title like Project Pastry Love. Some of the projects I’m currently working on are Clean Out A Cabinet, Why Don’t You?, and My Blood Pressure Is High- Is It Salt Or Stress? Investigate!, and The Kids Could Bathe More, Amiright?. My latest project, Put On Your Apron ‘Cause We’re Baking A Cake A Week has recently begun. Last time I focused on leveling layers when I made the Chocolate Marshmallow Cake. This week I baked a vanilla/almond cake with Swiss meringue vanilla bean buttercream to focus on proper buttercream consistency with a sub plot on decorative piping. My life is exciting!
I adapted this vanilla cake from Ina Garten’s Coconut Cupcakes recipe. It has become my new “go to” recipe for yellow cake. It’s moist, not too sweet, and has a light almond flavor thanks to the scant amount of almond extract used. I used the Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe from Layered by Tessa Huff. Swiss meringue buttercream is less sweet than American-style buttercream, but it’s silky, smooth, and pipes really well when decorating.
To make the Swiss meringue buttercream you begin by hand whisking egg whites and sugar. By the way, I used egg whites from the carton. It is a revelation.
Next, you place the egg white mixture bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Be sure to whisk it occasionally, and monitor the temperature.
When the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. remove it from the heat.
Attach the bowl to the standing mixer and mix on high, using the whisk attachment, until it forms stiff peaks. Once the meringue cools (check the temperature of the bowl using your inner wrist) then add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, while mixing on low speed. Once the butter is incorporated than add the vanilla bean paste.
Mix the buttercream on high for about 5 minutes, or until it is silky and smooth.
Okay, let’s assemble the cake! I baked the yellow cake in two 9-inch round cake pans. Once they’ve completely cooled fill a piping bag with some of the buttercream, and pipe out a boarder on top of one of the cake layers.
Smooth out raspberry jam all around the middle of the cake layer.
Place the second cake layer over top, and crumb coat it with some more of the buttercream. After the cake has chilled in the fridge for about 30 minutes smooth the top with a little more buttercream, and then score the sides of the cake vertically as a guideline for your piping.
Using a petal tip (I used a #102), with the narrow end facing down and away from the cake, pipe out ruffles from the bottom all the way to the top edge. Do this in a zig zagging motion.
When the sides of the cake are covered in ruffles, then pipe out a boarder of ruffles, using the same technique, around the perimeter of the top of the cake. Place edible flowers in the middle.
- 3 cups (375 g) All-Purpose Flour
- ½ tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Baking Powder
- ½ tsp. Baking Soda
- 3 sticks (340 g) Unsalted Butter, softened
- 2 cups (400 g) Sugar
- 5 Extra Large Eggs
- 1 and ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1 and ½ tsp. Almond Extract
- 1 cup Buttermilk
- ½ cup Egg Whites (I used store-bought carton)
- 1 and ¼ cups (250 g) Sugar
- 2 tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste (but you can use Vanilla Extract)
- 4 sticks (2 cups or 452 g) Unsalted Butter
- 1 and ½ cups Raspberry Jam
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease, and then line with parchment, and then grease the parchment of two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.
- In a large bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
- In a bowl connected to a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 3 minutes. Add the sugar, and mix until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- On low speed, mix in the eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla and almond extracts.
- Add the flour mixtures in three batches alternating with the buttermilk. Be sure to begin and end with the flour mixture.
- Divide the dough evenly between the two baking pans. Bake in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean after being inserted in the middle of the cakes.
- Cool the cakes in their pans on wire racks. Once completely cooled carefully invert the cakes onto a cutting board. With a serrated knife, level each cake, and then wrap up the cakes in plastic and set aside. Good job.
- Fill a medium-sized saucepan with an inch of water, and bring it to a simmer.
- In a bowl that connects to a standing mixer, whisk by hand the egg whites and the sugar. Place this bowl over the simmering water (be sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Stir intermittently. Monitor the temperature of the egg white mixture using a candy thermometer. When the temperature reaches 160 degrees F. remove the standing mixer bowl from the heat, and attach it to the standing mixer. Using the whisk attachment, mix the egg white mixture on high for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.
- Once the meringue comes to room temperature (use your inner wrist to feel the sides of the bowl to test) mix in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, at low speed. After the butter is combined add in the vanilla bean paste. Mix on medium-speed until the buttercream appears smooth, and silky, (about 2 to 3 minutes).
- Place one of the cake layers on a rotatable cake stand. Fill a pastry bag with a half cup of the buttercream, and fill another with raspberry jam. On top of the cake layer pipe out a boarder around the perimeter, and then fill in the middle with the jam. Place this cake layer in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Remove the cake layer from the fridge, and then gently place the second cake layer over top. Crumb coat the entire cake with some of the buttercream. Place the cake back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the fridge. Spread some buttercream onto the top smoothing it over nicely, and cleaning up the edges. Place the remainder of the buttercream in a piping bag that is fitted with a petal tip (I used a #102). To help make the ruffle pattern even, score the sides of the cake vertically using a knife or metal spatula. Okay, now hold your pastry bag perpendicular to the bottom of the cake plate with the narrow side of the tip facing down and out. Zig zag a column of ruffles all of the way up to the top edge of the cake. Repeat, keeping even pressure, until all of the columns cover the sides of the cake. Finally, around the perimeter of the top of the cake, pipe out the same zig zagging ruffle.
- Two 9-inch round cake pans
- Parchment paper
- Wire racks
- Candy thermometer
- Standing mixer with whisk and paddle attachments
- Off set spatula
- Rotatable cake stand
- Pastry bags
- Petal-shaped piping tip