This past week I had a catering order in Sayulita for a special birthday cake. The husband wanted a vanilla cake with a buttercream frosting and said that if I could make it for him, he would be a hero in his wife’s eyes, as it was her birthday. I had never made either a vanilla cake, nor buttercream frosting before, but decided to give it a go! After lots of research the result was a most delicious cake. I was very proud of how yummy and beautiful this cake turned out, and I knew that I just had to share it with you here today. A friendly warning: the French buttercream icing I made uses a lot of butter...after-all, the icing is called BUTTERcream for a reason. I realize that this recipe may be a bit complicated for many of you, but I can guarantee that if you do make it, you will thank me!
All of the ingredients for this recipe can be found here in Sayulita. I tend to go to Costco in Puerto Vallarta for my butter as their Kirkland brand unsalted butter is great, and it is almost always in stock. I buy it in bulk and store it in the freezer until I need it.
-2 ¼ cups flour for 8” pans, or 3 cups + 6 Tablespoons for 9” pans
-2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder, or 3 ⅜ teaspoons
-3/4 teaspoons salt, or 1 teaspoon
-3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, or 1 ¼ cups
-1 ½ cups granulated sugar, or 2 ¼ cups
-3 large eggs at room temperature, or 4 ½ eggs
-1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla, or 2 teaspoons
-1 cup buttermilk or whole milk at room temperature, or 1 ½ cups
(*I make my own buttermilk by adding 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice, stir, and let sit 5-10 minutes. It will look curdled, but not to worry. It works great!)
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE CAKE LAYERS:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Grease and flour two 8” or two 9” cake rounds. (*I like to grease the bottoms then place a cut parchment paper round to fit the bottom of the pan. Grease and flour the parchment paper and up the sides. Then, tap it by banging lightly so that all the excess flour comes off.)
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined, then set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
- Add vanilla.
- Add flour and milk, alternating by beginning and ending with flour.
- Bake 30-35 minutes. (*Test for “doneness” with a toothpick by inserting into the middle of the cake; when it is done, just a few crumbs will stick to the toothpick.)
- Cool pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto the rack to continue cooling. Immediately remove parchment paper.
INGREDIENTS FOR FRENCH BUTTERCREAM:
(*I made this recipe three times to be sure that I had enough icing to pipe rosettes all over the cake.)
-5 large egg yolks
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
-Pinch of salt
-1 cup + 5 teaspoons unsalted butter, cubed and then softened to room temperature
- Put the yolks into a heat proof bowl that fits over a pot of simmering water. This is now a makeshift water bath.
- Add the sugar and the vanilla, and whisk until foamy.
- Now place the bowl over the simmering water bath, checking to be sure that the bottom of the bowl does NOT touch the water.
- Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved. (*Rubbing a bit of the egg/ sugar mixture between your fingers is the best way to be sure that all the sugar has dissolved.)
- Gently heat the mixture to 147 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, keep it at this temperature for 10 minutes. (*This process is called pasteurization; it kills any bacteria and makes the icing safe for everyone. Some people don’t worry about pasteurizing the yolks, but I do. This step only takes 10 extra minutes.)
- Add this mix to your mixer, and beat until the mix has thickened and has COOLED to room temperature.
- Sprinkle in the salt.
- Begin to add in the very soft butter, one cube at a time, mixing constantly.
- You now have the silkiest, lightly sweetened French Buttercream.
- Cover the 1st layer with ⅛ or ¼” of icing; then add the top layer and then ice the top and sides with a thin layer of icing; if not decorating with rosettes, cover the top and sides with a thicker layer of icing.
- Decorate with fresh flowers, or pipe rosettes all over the cake. (*I wanted to try piping rosettes. I googled how to do this. I think it looks very rustic and also very beautiful.)
- Chill finished cake until 1 hour before serving.
Everyone can make this fancy cake, with just a bit of practice. I am not sure as yet what my next column will be, so stay tuned!
For my regular readers’ information: El Sayulero has had a new format since the summer of 2018. My column does not appear in every single issue, as they come out weekly, so please do not give up reading El Sayulero thinking that I have stopped contributing.
If you have any comments or questions, please email me through my LIVE, LOVE, & EAT IN SAYULITA webpage.
*Written by: Karina Shecter