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.
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.
Meanwhile, make your frosting!
Magnolia Bakery’s Buttercream Vanilla Icing
I tend to shy away from plain buttercream icing, but this time I wanted the smooth silky texture of Magnolia Bakery’s Buttercream Vanilla Icing !
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 cups confectioners' sugar
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until the icing is thick enough to spread. (Leftover icing freezes well for up to two months.)
- 1 8- or 9-inch cardboard cake circle
- small / large piping bag & small / large tips
- few small flowers/leaves if desired
- small offset round-tipped spatula
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, and bench scraper - not all 100% necessary for this cake, 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. 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 didn’t spend a ton of time getting it super smooth; there’s no point if you're going to texture it!
Now for that texturing – I found this the easiest to do with a warm offset spatula; it helps keep the edges of the ridges from getting too torn and rough. Heat a mug of water in the microwave for 45-60 seconds, until fairly warm to touch. I found it easiest to begin at the base of the cake and work upwards. Drag the tip of the spatula around the outer edge of the cake, working your way up a layer at a time. I found that stopping every half-turn or so to scrape and re-warm my spatula gave me the best results!
Top with leaves and flowers if you’d like – I kept the cake in the fridge to make sure the texturing on the outside of the cake stayed in place.
Make this recipe? Let me know how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo!