Saturday, April 21, 2012


There's a wedding on the horizon.  Not mine.  Not even that of a close friend.  A friendly acquaintance is getting married tomorrow evening (Sunday).  Very casual and sudden -- although they've been together for six years, they started planning the wedding maybe a month ago.  I got my invitation via my friend (the bride's coworker) leaving a voicemail for me last weekend.  Reminds me of what my parents' wedding must have been like more than 30 years ago.

Last night was the joint bachelor/bachelorette party.  My friend was organizing it as the sort of honorary Maid of Honor (the bride's sister decided she wasn't going to make it), and I offered to make the cakes  -- both to help my friend and as a gift to the bride and groom.  I'd never met the groom (before last night) but nevertheless I wanted to make some delicious cakes for the two of them.  Vanilla for her and chocolate with some strawberries for him.

Wednesday I had lunch with my friend Jesse and decided to stop at Michael's for some cake boxes on the way back to the school to drop him off.  Big mistake, taking Jesse into Michael's...although it worked out fairly well, I must admit.  While I was looking for the right box size (unsuccessfully) Jesse was looking at the shiny, giant "diamonds" and called my attention to a pink one.  I was already planning on dying the bride's vanilla cake pink since she's a girly girl but didn't have any embellishments for the outside.  I decided that would be the perfect topper.  Then, Jesse decided we needed to find something for the top of the groom's cake.  Naturally, this was not easy to do, but after bouncing ideas back and forth with a sales associate for a bit we ended up looking at action figure toys for a dragon.  I guess they are the only "manly" things Michael's carries.  We settled on two dragons that looked like they were battling.  Boys.  Okay, the toppers kind of made the cakes awesome in addition to delicious, so maybe next time I'll bring him in as a design consultant or something...maybe.

So Thursday I spent the entire afternoon baking the cakes.  The chocolate cake turned out almost fudgey and the vanilla cake came out wonderfully dense -- and both came out flat.  Since I bake at high altitude, I always have to adjust the recipe slightly to compensate and as a result usually end up with domed cakes.  This is frustrating (and dangerous to my diet) because I have to trim the top to stack the layers and usually end up eating whatever gets trimmed.  The strawberry buttercream I made to fill the chocolate cake smelled so good that I decided to double the recipe and fill both cakes with the strawberries -- and I had a lot more strawberry puree leftover, but I had to use up my strawberries before they turned all fuzzy.  On a side note, any leftovers taste excellent on toast...I did not put nearly enough into the cakes, so I have a lot left over.  I'm okay with that.

So, recipes!  I found these through Pinterest, naturally, since I spend all my free or wasted time there.  I hadn't tried them before, but was very pleased.  Both cake recipes came from Sweetapolita -- actually, I didn't realize that until I was just getting my sources in order to link to the original recipes.  I must take the time to explore more of the recipes shared there!

Fluffy Vanilla Cake (Slightly modified from Sweetapolita's original recipe...)

  • 5 large egg whites (I used the stuff in the carton, nearly a cup was supposed to equal 5 large egg whites)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract (I added more to make it super can never underestimate the deliciousness of vanilla)
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature and cut into cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 350, or 325 if using convection.  Prepare 2 9" round pans using Wilton Cake Release or favorite method.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine and stir the egg whites, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients together on low speed.
  4. Add butter and remaining 1/2 cup of milk and mix on low speed until just moistened.  Increase to medium speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes.  (Now that I'm typing up these directions, I'm not sure I followed that one exactly...)
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches, beating on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
  6. Divide the batter in two, spread it evenly in the cake pans.
  7. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a tester comes out cleanly when inserted into the center.  Cool on racks for 10 minutes before inverting to release from pans (onto racks) and allow to cool completely.
*Note:  I added about a teaspoon of bright pink gel food coloring.  This recipe, if followed as typed above, will not produce a pink cake.

Rich & Dark Chocolate Cake (Also slightly modified...)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used the powdered stuff, as we rarely keep real buttermilk in stock at home)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract (Here again, I added more but didn't measure, so add more to taste)
  1. Preheat oven to 350, or 325 if using convection.  Prepare 2 9" round pans using Wilton Cake Release or favorite method.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients and mix for two minutes with paddle attachment on medium speed.  Beware of splashing, as batter will be very liquid.
  4. Divide between two cake pans.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes then rotate pans in oven.  Cakes are done when a tester comes out cleanly, after approximately 35 minutes total baking time.  Cool on racks for 20 minutes before inverting to release from pans (onto racks) and allow to cool completely.
Strawberry Buttercream (Based on this Blackberry Jam Buttercream recipe)

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup strawberry puree
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. In electric mixer, with paddle attachment, beat butter and strawberry puree until well combined.
  2. Add in sugar, more if necessary to reach desired consistency.
*Note:  I made this the day before assembling the cakes.  I stored it in the refrigerator, allowing it to become firm.  So I took it out of the refrigerator to let it warm a bit back to room temperature, and decided to stick it in the mixer to get it ready to spread on the cakes.  It ended up changing the consistency from nice and smooth to a bit curdled looking.  Still tastes fine, but the moral of the story is that this is best used either right away or chilled.

Whipped Vanilla Frosting (I didn't have a vanilla bean, but otherwise the same as Sweetapolita's...)


  • 3 sticks + 2 tbsp butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  1. In electric mixer, with paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed.  Butter will become very pale and creamy.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes.  Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
Chocolate Creme Frosting (This was the bride's favorite part -- delicious!)

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 6 oz semi-sweet baker's chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 cups marshmallow creme
  • 1 tsp (plus) pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp powdered sugar
  1. In electric mixer, with paddle attachment, beat butter and chocolate together until smooth.
  2. Add in creme, then vanilla and sugar.  Whip until blended and fluffy.
  3. Chill for 20 minutes before using.
And there you have it!  

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