Celebrate With Some Birthday Cake: Vanilla Cake With Vanilla Buttercream
The classic Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Some may consider it boring, but others love the clean vanilla taste and simple joy it provides. Who doesn’t enjoy a slice of cake from time to time? As a child I grew up with a homemade birthday cake, made in a bundt pan, and covered in homemade frosting. Sprinkles were of course added to the top and my family looked forward to having some cake for each birthday that we celebrated. Now that I have my own family I love keeping this tradition alive. Even though I didn’t grow up with a multi-tiered cake, I wanted to give one a try after I came across how The Milk Bar builds their layered cakes. Let’s face it, making a cake, especially a multi-teired cake, can seem daunting. If you use the 2 to 3 circular cake pans you hope each pan has the correct amount of batter, then you need to cut the tops of each cake to make them flat and don’t forget to pray that it stays vertical and not become the leaning tower of birthday cake.
Ok, ok… so you can see why I don’t make tiered cakes often, but this new technique has changed my aversion to this baking challenge. I’m happy to show you this process, and honestly it can be used for any cake and frosting flavor. Use this recipe as a jumping off point and add all sort of fun ingredients, like sprinkles and different frosting flavors. (Just wait until you see what guest contributor Leigh created once I told her about this technique!) So the big difference in this newly discovered technique is that you start with a sheet cake and cut out the rings of cake layers needed using a ring mold. I had purchased a 6″ ring, but there are also 10″ rings, which is another popular cake size. Acetate is also your friend here. Don’t be intimidated, it’s just plastic strips that you tape in place and will hold the shape of the cake. It’s easy! You’ve got this.
Here are some helpful tips and food for thought:
- The parchment on the baking sheet will actually help the cake bake evenly and helps eliminate high and low points so no more carving the cake to make it flat.
- Use your best looking cake round for the top layer of your cake. If a cake round breaks or you cut two halves to make a whole layer, use these pieces for your middle layers. No one is going to see them, it’s ok.
- The cake soak was another idea from the Milk Bar that I love. It keeps the cake moist, and who doesn’t love that!
- I have made both a 6″ and 4″ rounds using this method and neither require cake dowels. The acetate and allowing it to set in the freezer takes care of this for you.
- The Milk Bar loves using the Clear Vanilla Extract, so I decided to give it a try. You can find it at most grocery stores or online. I always love using a new product!
- 2 1/4 Cups - Cake Flour
- 1 Teaspoon - Baking Powder
- 1/4 Teaspoon - Salt
- 1/2 Cup - Butter, Softened (1 stick)
- 1 1/2 Cups - Sugar
- 3 Eggs
- 1 1/4 Cups - Milk
- 1 Teaspoon - Vanilla Extract
- CAKE SOAK
- 1/4 Cup - Milk
- 1 Teaspoon - Clear Vanilla Extract
- VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
- 2 Sticks - Unsalted Butter, softened
- 3-4 Cups - Confectionary Sugar
- 2 Teaspoons - Vanilla Extract
- Pinch of Salt
- 2-3 Tablespoons - Milk (adjust milk amount to desired consistency)
- Preheat oven 350°. Line a 18x13 large baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder, set aside
- In your stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
- Add eggs one at a time, beat well after each
- Add the flour mixture and mix until smooth
- After mixing in the flour, add the milk and vanilla to the batter. Mix until a smooth pourable batter results.
- Pour onto your baking sheet and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
- Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes in the pan.
- CAKE SOAK
- In a small dish, mix the milk and vanilla. Set aside with pastry brush until you are assembling the cake
- In a medium bowl with hand mixer, beat the two soften sticks of butter until light and fluffy
- Add 1 cup of sugar and combine. Then add additional cup and combine
- Add the 2 teaspoons of vanilla, pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar, combine. Add an additional cup of sugar. If the frosting is too stiff, add another tablespoon of milk. Set frosting aside until assembly time
- BUILDING THE CAKE
- Using your 6" cake ring, cut out 4 pieces of cake (as seen above) You could cut a 5th layer (two half circles of cake) if needed
- Build your cake on a cake stand or sheet of parchment. Cut 3-4 20" pieces of acetate. Line the ring mold with one piece and secure it with a piece of tape
- Place the first piece of cake into the cake mold, use the pastry brush and brush on the cake soak, now add a few tablespoons of frosting. Use the off set spatula to smooth out the frosting. Your first layer is complete
- Take a second piece of acetate and tuck it into the first layer of acetate, secure with a piece of tape. Build your next layer just like the first layer. TIP: Keep your best looking piece of cake for your top layer
- Repeat this process for the remaining layers. Transfer the cake to the freezer to allow the layers to set up (3 hours)
- Remove from freezer and pop cake out of the cake pan. Then peel acetate off of the cake. Cover cake well and thaw in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving
Nicole is a professional photographer, mother to an energetic child, and founder of Make and Taste. She has been a Commercial, Editorial and Lifestyle photographer for 10 years and has been published in various magazines and brand websites. Nicole is passionate about providing her child with meaningful experiences and documenting all of the fun along the way. You can always find her baking with her 6 year old and enjoying a good cup of coffee.