3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks) room temperature
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
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
Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.
Mix bits 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 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!
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)
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 from the bowl and set aside if you’d like to add bits of colored icing to decorate the cake.
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles)
- squeeze bottle or piping bag for the cake drip (you can also use a spoon if you’d rather)
- 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)
- Cake topper – TONS of options on Amazon; here’s a link to the one I used!
- Small offset spatula to smooth the cake drip on top of the cake
- Candy melts + few tablespoons of heavy cream for cake drip (recipe below) – I used Wilton’s Bright White candy melts
- Large pearlized sprinkles (I used white ‘sixlets’ from Hobby Lobby, but these are available online) and small sugar pearls (I used white and pink)
- this is optional, but I added a bit of white sparkling sugar to the cake drip for a bit of sparkle and texture
- few drops of pink + purple food color (I used liquid colors to get a light pastel shade)
- Small piping bag & tip(s) – this set has been one of my favorites!
- few silk flowers – I used flowers from Hobby Lobby, but plenty are available online! I used a few white roses, mini carnations that I sprayed silver with edible spray, and a bit of baby’s breath!
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 first layer with frosting. Add 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.
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, and I made the frosting layer thin enough to let the cake layers show through a bit for a ‘semi-naked’ cake style.
Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer to set the frosting.
This is a great time to 1) color your frosting if you’d like to use any colors to decorate, and 2) make your candy melt drip(s)!
Candy Melt Drip:
- 6 oz white candy melts (I use the Wilton brand Bright White)
- 3 ¾ Tablespoons heavy whipping cream (the brand I usually use comes from Costco and is incredibly thick; you may need a bit less depending on the thickness of your heavy cream!)
(This recipe is very similar to my favorite white chocolate ganache recipe – you’re basically using candy melts instead of white chocolate to make a very similar drip ganache. I prefer this drip when I want bright colors that aren’t tinted yellow from the white chocolate!)
Place heavy cream and candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on 50% power in 30-second intervals until smooth, stirring in between.
When your candy melt mix has cooled to a moderate temperature – it should feel slightly warm and still be fairly liquid – transfer it to a squeeze bottle or piping or small ziplock bag – or get your spoon ready!
Slowly drizzle candy melt ganache around the upper edge of your cake, pausing every inch or so to let more fall in a drip down the side of the cake. Pour some of the remaining candy melt mix over the cake, and smooth any gaps or bumpy spots with a small offset spatula.
If you’d like to add some sparkling sugar to a few of the drips, do it now before they set completely – smear a bit of butter or Crisco on your finger so the sugar will stick, then carefully press the sugar into the drips. Add a sprinkle over the top of the cake as well, if you’d like. Place the cake into the refrigerator to set the drips!
Place your cake topper on the cake – I set mine off-center just a bit to make more room for the flowers I wanted to add!
When I add flowers to a cake I usually start with the largest ones and then arrange the smaller ones around them – up to you! Add flowers to your liking, pipe small bits of frosting on for texture and a bit of accent color, and a sprinkle of large and small sugar pearls over the top of the cake.
– and you’re done! Enjoy the celebration!