"Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better." - Maya Angelou
I took part in an Instagram collab last week where we all re-created an ‘old’ bake to showcase how our skills and experience had grown!
I re-created a cake I’d done a couple of years ago – not that it was bad, just a little boring – and I loved the way it turned out! (Check out the cake comparison here!) The piping went much faster than it probably looks like – you could even just use white frosting and spread a bit of food coloring on the inside of your piping bags before you fill them. Options!
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Christmas Color 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 cup all-purpose flour
3 cup granulated sugar
2 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) room temperature
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1 cup egg whites (About 7-8 eggs depending on size, or you can use egg whites from a carton to avoid wasting the yolks!)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature (or buttermilk powder with water is an option if you can’t find liquid buttermilk at your grocery store!)
1/8 cup (28 grams) vegetable oil
(Save and add later!) 3-4 drops Americolor red gel food color + 3-4 drips Americolor leaf green gel food color
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 peppermint extract 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 three bowls; leave one white and mix the red gel color into the second and the green into the third. Transfer into your prepared cake pans (I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part). This guarantees your layers will bake to be the same height. Marble the colors together with a knife or small offset spatula.
Bake for 35-37 minutes if using 8-inch pans, or 37-38 minutes for 7-inch cake pans (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Allow cake layers to cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire cooling rack before removing from pans – it helps to run an offset spatula or knife around the perimeter of the pan first. Cool completely before frosting. Set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
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
2 teaspoons peppermint extract
1/4 t. salt (if using unsalted butter)
(Save and add later!) 3-4 drops Americolor red gel food color + 3-4 drips Americolor leaf green gel food color (more for more intense colors)
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add peppermint extract and salt if needed and beat until well combined.
Remove about ¼ of the frosting from the bowl and mix in your red gel food color; repeat the process with the next ¼ of frosting and the green food color. You can mix colors together in your piping bags too if you’d like, or add a bit of gel color to the inside of a piping bag before adding white frosting for a fun swirled effect!
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles)
- Small piping bag & small star tip – this set has been one of my favorites!
- Large piping bag & large star tip – I use this set of reusable large bags & tips more than almost any of my others!
- Green candy melts and whipping cream for the drip (recipe below!)
- Small offset spatula
- Sprinkle mix of your choice! (I used Sweetapolita’s ‘Christmas Crackers,’ and a few of their metallic rod sprinkles!)
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
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 sprinkle a few Christmas nonpareil sprinkles over the frosting. Place your next cake layer on top, and 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. I usually do this with my large offset spatula.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), you’re ready to start piping!
Transfer your colored frostings to large & small piping bags fitted with the tips of your choice – and start piping away! I usually pipe large swirls first, and then work my way back around with progressively smaller tips and patterns until the cake is covered.
Add a few scattered sprinkles for a bit of texture; I thought angled silver rod sprinkles also added a fun look to the cake!
Stand back and congratulate yourself – and enjoy!