Do you have a favorite recipe, one you come back to time and time again? This is my come-back-to recipe. Not only is it delicious, but it has that “wow” factor, which is definitely a bonus. I’m not gonna lie, this cake takes work, but it is totally worth it. Plus, you can make the cake ahead of time, so it’s not so labor-intensive in one sitting. What’s nice about this cake is it’s versatility. The first year I made it, it was for my son’s 3rd birthday, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar was the theme. It had fondant (which I did not make–I used the brand Satin Ice, which tastes wonderful!) covering the cake and I made cut-out fruit wrapping around it. (“On Monday he ate…”) Even though I made this cake two years ago, my son still talks about it. That’s how memorable this cake was.
The fondant caterpillar took longer than I thought it would to make. But I thought the little guy turned out pretty cute.
In March of last year, I made the same cake, but it was an ombre blue cake, for my sister’s baby shower. I didn’t use fondant, but used sprinkles to cover the top of the cake, so it didn’t appear so plain.
For my son’s 4th birthday, I made the same cake. (Matthew asked for a shark cake for his 4th birthday, which we then turned into a shark-themed party. My husband wanted to point out the hour it took him to make the watermelon shark. He’s quite proud of it.)
For the outside of the cake, I colored the frosting, having three different layers. It’s a little hard to see in the photo, as Swiss Meringue buttercream is difficult to color, as I soon found out. To turn it into a “shark cake,” I made fondant sharks using a small cookie cutter and sugar pearls for the air “bubbles.”
I took the same idea for the Rainbow Cake, but left the cake white. I used raspberry filling instead of buttercream between each layer, because, well, it’s a shark cake.
My mom celebrated a big milestone in February and we had a surprise birthday party for her. Again, I made the same cake, but since her favorite color is purple, I made a purple ombre cake.
(I had to quickly snap a picture of the last slice of cake, which fortunately my dad notified me of. Normally I would spend more time getting the “right” picture, but I lost track of time because of hosting duties.)
See how versatile this cake is? I promise it’s worth the time and effort you put into this. Oh the looks on everyone’s faces when you cut into the cake. Priceless…Enjoy! xoxo
cake from Whisk Kid
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ⅓ c sugar
5 egg whites, room temperature
2 t real vanilla
3 c flour
4 t baking powder
½ t salt
1 ½ c 2% milk, warmed for 30 sec in microwave to bring to room temperature
GEL food coloring (I use Americolor)–liquid will not be vibrant enough
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line and grease however many 9” cake pans you have. (I have 3 and reused them. I also used parchment paper to line the bottom of each pan. It made getting the cake out easier.)
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites, a little bit at a time. (I cracked the eggs and put the egg whites in a bowl to bring to room temperature.) Add the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Add the remaining dry ingredients and the milk, alternating between wet and dry.
Divide among six bowls (see note on how to do this) and add the gel food coloring. Using a spoon, gently mix the coloring into the batter. Pour into the cake pans.
Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are light brown and spring back to the touch. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes before inverting and cooling completely on wire racks.
**NOTE: To get even layers, you MUST weigh your mixing bowl before you begin. Once the batter is complete, place on scale and subtract the total weight from the weight of the bowl. Then take that number and divide by six. When you place the batter in each bowl, make sure you bring the weight to zero before adding the batter to ensure that each bowl has the right and equal amount. One time I did it wrong and ended up with only 5 layers.**
If you choose to make this the day before, wrap in two layers of plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Take them out of the fridge when you are reading to make the frosting and decorate.
Lemony Swiss Meringue Buttercream
To Fill and crumb coat:
9 egg whites
1 ¾ c sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 t lemon extract
pinch of salt
5 egg whites
1 c sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 t vanilla extract
pinch of salt
To make (both the fill and crumb coat as well as the outer frosting layer):
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the egg whites and sugar, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. (To know if the sugar is dissolved, take your fingers and run a little bit of the mixture between finger and thumb. If you don’t feel any grains of sugar, it’s done.)
Place mixture in mixing bowl and using a whisk attachment, whisk on medium-high speed until the bowl is cool to the touch. Add the sticks of butter, one at a time, waiting until the butter is incorporated before adding the next stick. Once the butter is all mixed in and no traces are to be found, add the extract and salt. Then bring back to medium-high speed and whip for about 5 minutes. You will know it is done when the frosting has come together and does not appear soupy. (If it does seem soupy, put it in the fridge for 5-7 minutes and then whip again.)
Stack and assemble each layer. Put the cake in the fridge once the crumb coat is complete and make the outer frosting layer. If you choose to have a fondant layer, do this after the final outer coat is complete. You can them store in the fridge overnight. If you do not have a fondant layer, cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. If you do have a fondant layer, no need for the plastic wrap. (The plastic wrap adds a layer of moisture and creates small beads of sweat on your fondant.)
Take out 30 minutes before serving.