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
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil
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.
This part is optional, but 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.
Yellow 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
2 drops yellow gel food color or 8-10 drops liquid yellow food color
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- small piping bag & small round tip Piping bags & large star / small star piping tips
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup chocolate ganache + 1-2 drops black gel food color
- small brush for helping to adhere/taking extra powdered sugar off your black fondant transfers
- 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, and add a sprinkle of chocolate chips and a drizzle of chocolate ganache if you’re feeling fancy! If you fill the cake with chocolate, pipe a small 'dam' of yellow frosting to make sure the chocolate doesn't discolor the outside of the cake.
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. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.
Okay! The fun part! Decorations!
I made a full batch of fondant for the recipe for ease of measuring, but you’d really only need about a half batch for this cake at most. Fondant can be purchased, or it’s less expensive, tastier, and not too difficult to make your own! Note though – I recommend making this fondant a day or two ahead of time! It’s the easiest to work with after it’s had a day or so to rest. It tears much more easily if used too soon.
I’ve tried a couple of different marshmallow fondant recipes, and RoseBakes Marshmallow Fondant Recipe is my current fave!
1 pound of Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallows (I use the mini ones – they melt faster!)
1/4 – 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Crisco vegetable shortening (for greasing your hands, surface, bowls, etc.)
2 pounds of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or other flavoring (optional)
2-4 large drops black gel food color
large microwave-safe bowl
silicone mat or well-greased surface
Place marshmallows and ¼ to ½ cup of water in a large microwave-safe bowl.
Microwave for 30 seconds on high; stir until mixed well. Continue microwaving in 30 second intervals until they are melted and smooth.
Color your entire batch now!! Stir in gel food color until you reach the color shade you’d like.– you can add it later if you’d like, but it will involve a LOT more kneading to get the color even!
I find it MUCH easier to consistently measure powdered sugar by weight that by cups. I usually place my bowl on my kitchen scale, zero it, and then add powdered sugar until the scale reaches two pounds. If you’d rather measure by cups though, 2 pounds is about 8 cups.
Gently begin folding your powdered sugar into the melted marshmallows. I often grease a wooden spoon with Crisco for this part. When the mixture starts to come together, grease your hands and your counter-top generously with shortening. Turn marshmallow mixture onto counter and start kneading it like you would dough. Add more confectioners' sugar as needed and re-grease your hands the counter-top as needed.
If the marshmallow fondant is tearing easily, it is too dry; add water (about 1/2 tablespoon at a time) kneading until fondant forms a firm, smooth elastic ball that will stretch without tearing, about 8 minutes.
Links to the images I used for templates –
I started by pasting the images above into a photo editor, printing them in a couple of sizes, and then cutting out the sizes I liked best after holding them against the cake.
Using the paper outline as a guide, cut out the black Batman logo and the city skyline shapes (I did this in a few different sections to make it easier to transfer!) I also cut out the oval black ring around the Batman logo - since it's fairly thin, I found it easiest to place the paper on top of the cake, position the fondant over the paper, and remove the paper from underneath the fondant to make sure it kept its oval shape.
Wet a small brush (you could use a basting brush; I used a clean craft foam paintbrush) and dampen the top and sides of the cake slightly to help adhere the fondant. Once the logo and skyline shapes are stuck in place, you can use the same brush to clean excess powdered sugar off of it!
With a small piping bag (and I used the same paper images as a template) pipe yellow frosting onto your city skyline to make the building windows. I made the mistake of doing the piping before transferring the buildings to the cake, and ended up scraping most of it off to do over! I highly recommend you save yourself that particular headache and do the piping after the transfer.
This drip is optional – you could run the skyline around the entire cake border – but I opted to make a black ‘cake cape’ with black chocolate ganache!
Black Chocolate Ganache Drip:
- 6 oz (1 c) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 6 oz (3/4 c ) whipping cream
- 1 drop black gel food color
Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Place whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring almost to a boil over medium/low heat. Pour over chocolate chips and let rest for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth and silky. Add gel food coloring and stir until color is even.
(If desired, this can also be done in the microwave – combine ingredients and microwave on half power in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until smooth).
When your ganache has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm and still be fairly liquid – transfer it to a squeeze bottle or piping bag. A spoon will work if you don’t have either of those, I've just found spoons to be a little bit more difficult to work with.
Slowly drizzle ganache around the upper edge of your cake, pausing every inch or so to let more ganache fall in a drip down the side of the cake. Return cake to the fridge or freezer to set the drips.
And that’s it – congratulations on your kick-butt Batman Cake!
Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!