Saturday, July 16, 2011

Versatile Vanilla Cake

I've had better baking days than today. You know, when everything goes wrong and you just wanna give up and throw the cake in the trash can? But I really couldn't do that as the cake was supposed to make an appearance at a baby shower.

I'll start from the beginning. My mom asked me to bake something for her to take to a baby shower. I immediately thought of the Baby Gender Cake I saw a few months back. I bookmarked it because I thought it was a cute idea, though I had no idea when I would ever be using this any time soon. I was really excited to have this chance.

I followed the vanilla cake and vanilla frosting recipe links that were provided, but decided to use a cake recipe from Martha Stewart instead. I decided to stick with the frosting. I wanted to go for a four-layer cake, so I baked four and let them cool completely. Of course, our oven is crooked and consequently bakes seriously uneven cakes. I don't think it would've worked by leveling them because then I would've ended up with very thin layers. And cutting usually creates crumbs which meant I probably would have had to freeze them which I didn't have the time or space (seriously, blueberries everywhere) for that. It actually sort of worked out because I just alternated the layers and they ended up fitting like puzzle pieces.

What didn't work was the frosting. Boy, was the frosting a pain in the butt! Is my kitchen too warm? Did I use too much milk? Did I use the wrong milk? Was it my vanilla extract? It was way too runny! I dyed it pink and filled it between two layers of cake, but the cake kept sliding to one side and taking some frosting with it, so the frosting ended up oozing out the sides. I thought maybe putting it in the fridge would help set it, so I did. Then I worked on the next layer. Decent, still oozing, annoying, but in the fridge it goes to set again. At this point, I was fine with it. Whatever. I'll let the outside frosting hide it all. OR NOT. The frosting looked like it was melting as it drooped down the sides to the bottom. Frustration!

Yeah, this was when I wanted to throw things in the trash. But I just took a deep breath. There was only an hour until my mom had to leave. I quickly had to go to the store, come back, then frost, frost, and frost. In the end it worked. I should have bought three tubs of frosting because I didn't have enough to make decorations, which I had planned to do all along. I spent all morning practicing! But I used some of the bad frosting, trimmed the bottom and put on some roses on the top. It melted again though so it didn't look that great, but better than nothing?

In the end, it was still well received and everybody enjoyed the cake. So what did I learn from all this? Martha Stewart knows her stuff. The cake was delicious. I can't comprehend what went wrong with the frosting, but I don't think it and I will be seeing each other again. I'll still give you the recipe. Try it out for yourself and let me know how it went for you!

Oh, and pictures? So was not going to happen while I was having a panic attack. I'll have some better posts up soon.

Versatile Vanilla Cake
From Martha Stewart

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp, plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour two 8x2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.

Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Frosting [For 2 9-inch cakes or 1 sheet cake]
From Babble

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
32 oz confectioners' sugar

In a bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Beat in vanilla and milk. Gradually add in sugar until you reach desired consistency.

You can make this up to one week before you use it. Cover and refrigerate and, on the day you use it, bring to room temp and re-beat for smooth consistency.

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