‘April Showers’ Striped Buttercream Cake

When you're *SO* ready for spring...

...but the weather's still acting like winter….

That's been my mood as the ugly gray winter weather stuck around for months in my corner of Portland Oregon! ;) Gray stripes with a few gray April clouds and sprinkle raindrops cover the sides of the cake, but it’s topped with May ‘sprinkle flowers!’

I’d been dying to try striped cakes for a bit now, and they turned out to be not NEARLY as intimidating as I was expecting! Recipe below!

Vanilla Cake Layers:  

Note - this is a slightly-simplified layer cake recipe from ChelSweets.com - I highly recommend checking out her site if you haven't before; it's amazing!! 

3 1/4 c.  all purpose flour
3 c.  granulated sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t.  salt
1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) room temperature
2 t. vanilla extract
5 eggs 
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four 7 inch pans (for taller layers) or three 8 inch round pans with parchment rounds, and /or grease with non-stick or baker’s floured cooking spray.

Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.

Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.

Pour in eggs and mix on low until just incorporated.  Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height.

Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8-inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7-inch cake pans (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Place cake layers into the freezer for 45 minutes, to accelerate the cooling process.

Once the layers have fully cooled, the caramelized bits can be trimmed from the sides / top of the cake using a serrated knife if desired. Be sure the layers are completely cooled or chilled before trimming. If you try to trim the layers while they’re still warm, they will crumble apart. 

This is a great time to make your frosting!

Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
2-4 Tablespoons milk
1 T clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
Large drop drop gray gel food color  (I used a dark Americolor gray gel color)
Few drops green liquid food color (I used the green from a set similar to this one)

Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt if needed and beat until well combined. Remove about ½ cup of frosting and stir in gray gel color, and remove an additional ½ cup and stir in liquid green food color – set these aside for decorating!

Additional Supplies/Equipment:
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- small piping bag & small circle and multi-hole piping tips (I bought this set on Amazon)
- Ridged cake comb – I used the ridge comb from this set
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, offset spatula, and bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! 

Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle. Spread the layer with frosting. Quick FYI – Sweetapolita orders come with ‘emergency sprinkle’ samples – I added some of the ones that came with my sprinkle order for a pop of color!
Repeat the process with your remaining cake layers.

 Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper for this part.

Now you’re ready to add stripes – and this is where the cake comb comes in! Run the cake comb around your cake, scraping away some of the outermost frosting in a ridged pattern. Work your way slowly around the cake, scraping the cake comb off as you go. Once your ridges have formed, transfer gray icing to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Fill the ridges in the cake sides with colored icing. Now take your flat cake scraper, and slowly work your way around the cake, being careful to scrape the extra frosting off your scraper after every pass. The stripes should begin to clarify as you smooth the sides with the cake scraper!

With the same piping bag / round tip, pipe cloud shapes onto the sides of your cake. Once you’re happy with the look of the cake, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.

To add the blue sprinkle ‘raindrops,’ I used blue round sprinkles from my Sweetapolita Hip to the Hop sprinkle mix and pressed 4-7 of them into the sides of the cake underneath the clouds.

This part is optional, but it was getting close to May (you know, April Showers/May Flowers, whatever) when I made this cake, so I grabbed my multi-hold piping tip and added green frosting ‘grass’ and Sweetapolita Hip to the Hop sprinkle ‘flowers’ to my cake top!

Step back and high-five yourself – striped cakes take some doing and I know you nailed it!

Make this recipe? Let me know  how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!

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