Guys! I baked you a cake. Like a real
four three layer cake. No boxed mixes. No from-the-jar icing. No shortcuts. Just copious amounts of butter, sugar, flour and patience – oh, and about a dozen eggs.
Cake baking is hard, I’m not gonna lie. I honestly don’t know how cake bakers stay sane, and maybe they don’t, maybe behind the scenes they’re pulling their hair out, yelling screaming, even crying – or is that just me? When I picture a cake baker, I picture them calmly baking away, measuring sugar and sifting flour in a spotless white kitchen while humming along as they build a masterpiece. I suppose they find solace in piping frosting the same way I find solace in cranking out handmade fettuccine or chopping onions.
I’ve talked about my lack of enthusiasm for baking a few times, but I think I’m turning a new leaf because I mostly enjoyed the process the last few times I’ve put my baking skills to the test – that is, unless it’s going on 1 am, and my Swiss meringue buttercream just will not firm up, sending my once calm happy-go-lucky demeanor into a tailspin.
Although once the buttercream magically comes together, the four-layer turned three-layer cakes are baked (I royally screwed up layer numero uno), and everything is assembled, you take a step back and revel in this imperfect, yet beautiful piece of edible art you just created – it’s kind of an addictive feeling.
Now I’m not saying I’m going to be cranking out layered cakes on the regular, but hopefully more than once every three years, and especially on special occasions like this one.
But what’s the special occasion in question you may ask?
Why it’s Cooking for Keeps 2nd birthday!
Well, actually it was on Wednesday, but I’m in the midst of traveling to Greece right now so this post was a tad delayed. (More on Greece next week! I have a couple of Greek themed recipes for you next week, and I’ll be updating Instagram every once in a while until then!)
On one hand I can’t believe it’s already been two years since I started this little blog, but on the other hand it seems like I’ve been doing this my whole life. Which I guess if we’re technically speaking, I have, I just wasn’t sharing my cooking and recipes for the world to criticize – and boy does the world criticize.
It’s crazy to think about how far I’ve come since my very first post. I remember thinking my pictures were awesome those first few months. I’d stare at them in awe, and now looking back I can’t believe I thought they were actually acceptable – oh how time and a learning curve will change your perspective.
I’m not going to sit here and say I never had any intentions of the this blog turning into something more than just a hobby, because that would be a lie. When I initially started this, I did want it to become a combination of a hobby and small side job, however, I never, ever imagined I’d work with some of the people or companies I have to date, never thought I’d make more than a couple hundred dollars, and most importantly, never thought I’d make actual friends through this thing called food blogging.
I feel truly blessed. And I still feel like I’m just beginning – which is exhilarating.
So here’s to another great year!! Thanks for everything!!! Muah!
- Vanilla Cake:
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2-2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 9 egg whites, at room temperature
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- Strawberry Buttercream:
- 5 large egg whites
- 1-1/4 cups
- 2 sticks butter + 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup strawberry puree
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- A few drops pink food coloring (optional)
- Chocolate Glaze:
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- For the Vanilla Layer Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter three 8" x 2" round cake pans, and dust with flour, shaking out any excess flour.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale, about 5-6 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the egg whites gradually, mixing until each one is incorporated.
- Whisk flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Mix vanilla and almond extracts into buttermilk.
- With the speed on low, alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Tap cakes on counter to get air bubble out. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out with just a few scant crumbs attached, about 30-35 minutes depending on your oven.
- Let pans cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, and then invert cakes onto racks. Let cool completely before icing.
- Strawberry Buttercream:
- Add egg whites and sugar to the bottom of a clean standmixer, and place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk just until sugar has melted.
- Transfer the bowl back to the mixer. Using the whisk attachment for the mixer, whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl is no longer hot, about 5-8 minutes.
- Switch to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add about ½ a tablespoon of butter at a time making sure each piece is completely incorporated before adding the last. I’ve never had a swiss merigne buttercream come together right away, I use Rosie’s instruction and chill it in the fridge for 10-15 minutes and then continue to mix on a low speed until it comes together, you may need to add a little bit more room temperature butter. Add vanilla, salt and strawberry puree, beat until combined. Add food coloring if necessary.
- For the glaze:
- In a microwave safe bowl, add butter and chocolate. Microwave in 25 second intervals, stirring in between each. Cool.
- Cut tops off of cake layers to ensure even layers. For the first layer spread about ¼ of the frosting evenly on top. Top with second layer, spread another ¼ of the frosting, top with last layer. Spread about 1/8 of the buttercream thinly on top and sides of the cake.
- Chill for 30 minutes. Remove from fridge and spread remaining frosting on top and sides of cake. Use an offset spatula to ensure and even coating.
- If warm, chill for another 15 minutes.
- Pour the cooled chocolate glaze over the top.
- You can serve as is, but if you make ahead store in fridge and be sure to take out at least an hour before serving. The buttercream needs to be room temperate when consumed.