Sunday, May 29, 2011

Vanilla Layer Cake

...covered with vanilla swiss meringue buttercream, fondant, and royal icing!

For the cake... 
(from sweetapolita)

4 large eggs (separated)
3 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar, divided
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk (room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter and flour three – 8 inch (20 cm) round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and grease and flour parchment paper.

While eggs are still cold, separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic warp and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).

In a mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over-mix the batter or it will deflate.

Divide the batter evenly between the three prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or back of a spoon. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan gently. Once the cakes of completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for at least an hour (to make filling and frosting the cakes easier).

For the buttercream...  
(adapted from sweetapolita ... I used half of the following recipe)

Yield: ~5 cups

6 large egg whites (180 g)
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups  (3 sticks, 340 g) unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split & scraped OR 1 tablespoon (15 mL) vanilla bean paste

Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and vinegar, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar,  and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140 degrees F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and cool. *Be sure the bottom of the mixer bowl is neutral, not warm, before you begin adding the butter. Also, just a note that did you know you can’t over beat meringue once the sugar is added? So don’t be afraid to really whip it until it’s cool. Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed continuously, add softened (but cool) butter in chunks, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth–I promise!).  If too soft, chill bowl until cool, then try again until the right consistency. If for some reason, you can’t get it to thicken up, even after it’s nice and chilled, you can add a few cubes of cool butter and whip a bit more. Add flavourings (and colouring), then mix well.

For the royal icing...
(from Wilton ... I used 1/3 of this recipe and still had extra)

Yield: 3 cups


  • 3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 4 cups (about 1 lb.) confectioners' sugar
  • 6 tablespoons warm water


Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer). 
NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.
* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.
**When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.

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