Vanilla Butter Cake

June 27, 2012

Pretty little wedding cake in pale pink with cornelli lace and sugar flowers. This is one of my earliest wedding cakes for my student, Carmen who has recently had a baby! Congratulations dear Carmen!!

Vanilla butter cake is more delicate if you substitute a portion of the unsalted butter with vegetable oil.   The crumb will be tighter and the cake will be softer.  Tweaking recipes for artisan cakes comes with practice, time and understanding the fundamentals of baking.  Buttercream decorating also takes time to learn and master.

Prepare 2 8″ cake pans and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

4 ounces unsalted butter softened to room temperature

2 ounces vegetable oil

12 ounces granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 whole eggs

2 2/3 cups cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups whole milk

Cream the butter, oil and sugar together until light and fluffy…approximately 10  minutes.  Add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and alternate the incorporation of the dry ingredients with the milk in thirds.

Divide equally among the two cake pans and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until golden.  The cake should spring back when you touch it.

Cool in the pans before removing the cakes and chill well before filling.

Because butter cakes are a bit more dense than a Vanilla Chiffon cake, fillings that are on the sturdy side are good but mousses are good as well.  Just cut your layers of cake two layers of cake would become four layers of cake with three layers of filling.

The recipe will make two tiers of cake like this one. Remember to build your cake in a lined cake pan and chill well.

8 eggs separated

1 cup water

2/3 cups vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

12 ounces cake flour

6 ounces hazelnut meal (special order through PCC)

4 teaspoons baking powder (1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon)

1 teaspoon salt

5 ounces granulated sugar for the flour/hazelnut mixture

9 ounces granulated sugar for the meringue

Using two mixers with whip attachments, place the yolks in one bowl and whites in the other mixer bowl.  Add the water, oil and vanilla to the yolks and combine all on low speed.

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the hazelnut meal with the baking powder and salt plus 5 ounces of the granulated sugar.  Whisk together so that the hazelnut meal is well incorporated into the flour.

Begin to whip the egg whites on medium high.  Add the 9 ounces of granulated sugar to the whites when they are at the soft peak stage.  Whip the whites until they are soft but completely hold their shape.

Put all of the flour/hazelnut mixture into the egg yolks and whip until well combined.  Scrape down the bowl and whip on high for about a minute.

Fold the whites into the yolk/hazelnut mixture until they are very well combined.  Remember that you have baking powder in this cake so the possibility of the cake falling is remote.

Divide into your cake pans and bake for about 25 minutes.  This is enough batter for 3 8” cake pans and 3 5”cake pans.

5 ounces of batter can go into the 5” cake pans and  12 ounces of batter an go into the 8” cake pans.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes..

Chocolate Mousse which can be flavored with

Praline Paste

8 ounces good quality dark chocolate melted and cooled

3 ounces egg yolks

3 ounces whole eggs

4 ounces granulated sugar for hot syrup

¼ cup cold water

14 ounces heavy cream whipped

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool.

In the bowl of a heavy duty mixer whip the yolks and whole eggs until they are light and fluffy.

Moisten the granulated sugar with ¼ cup of water and boil it to a temperature of 240 degrees F.

Whip the cream to soft peaks and refrigerate until needed.

When the syrup is 240 degrees F, pour over the whipped egg mixture in the heavy duty mixer and allow to continue to whip until cool.

The melted chocolate should be no cooler than 90 degrees F. when you pour it into the cooled egg mixture.  The chocolate needs to be immediately and with some vigor folded into the eggs.

Fold in the whipped cream and thoroughly blend.  Add the vanilla and you have the most delectable chocolate mousse ever..!

Flavor with praline paste for a hazelnut mousse by putting a couple of scoops of the praline paste in with the melted chocolate before you add the chocolate to the whipped eggs.

You can ice the cakes with Italian meringue buttercream flavored with chocolate or just vanilla.  To flavor buttercream with chocolate, you need to melt a weight of chocolate that is 25% of the total weight of the buttercream you are going to flavor.

If you have 28 ounces of Italian meringue buttercream, which is a single recipe, you need to melt 7 ounces of good chocolate.

Frangelico Simple Syrup

Flavor 1 cup of simple syrup with 1/2 cup Frangelico liquor

Your simple syrup should be made by boiling 1 cup sugar in 2 cups water for 10 minutes and make sure it is cool before adding the Frangelico liquor.

Flavored syrups are good in refrigeration for a week or so but it is always best to use all your products as soon as possible.

Two tiers 8″ and 5″

Line the cake pans with plastic wrap and place a prepared layer of cake in each pan.  Brush layer of cake with Frangelico syrup and pipe a dam of Italian meringue butter cream around the rim of each cake layer.   Fill with hazelnut mousse, top with another layer of cake, brush with syrup, pipe the dam and fill with the with the final layer of cake upside down and brush with syrup.

Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.  Remove from the pans and invert on cake boards right side up so that the syrup continues to move downwards.  Ice with Italian meringue buttercream and if you are going to cover your cakes with white chocolate fondant, chill them very well before hand.  Remember to always ice your cake boards so that the fondant has something to adhere to at the very bottom of the cake.  Stack as you would with support dowels in the 8″ tier.  You can glue the cakes with royal icing on the top of the 8″ cake or just assemble at your venue or at home so that there is no dowel mark showing on top.  Some people will create a hole in the bottom of the top tier of cake through the cake board and place a dowel half way up into the top tier.  It is up to you to discover what works best for you.

People are apprehensive about doweling cakes and putting stabilizing dowels in cakes.  You just have to do it enough times successfully so that you gain confidence.

Best of luck!

My student is decorating a lovely cake with Italian meringue buttercream.

For the Vanilla Chiffon Cake you will need three 9 inch cake pans prepared by spraying only the bottom of the cake pans and lining them with parchment rounds.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

8 eggs separated

1 cup cold water

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

14 ounces cake flour

1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

14 ounces granulated sugar (divide 9 ounces for the meringue and 5 ounces for the flour)

Place the whites in a bowl of a heavy duty 5 quart mixer with a whip attachment.  Start whipping the egg whites and when they reach the soft peak stage add 9 ounces of the granulated sugar in a thin stream.  Continue to whip until the whites reach the stiff peak stage is reached.  Do not over whip.

In the bowl of a heavy duty 5 quart mixer with a whip attachment, place the yolks, water, oil and vanilla and blend together well.

Sift the flour, baking powder, 5 ounces of the granulated sugar and the salt together and then add the dry ingredients all at one time to the yolk mixture and begin to blend.  Scrape down the bowl and blend until there are no lumps of flour..this should only take about a minute.  What I love about this recipe is that the Chiffon Cake is very forgiving.  You can increase the speed of the mixer to make sure it is well mixed.

Fold in the egg whites and make sure there are no bits of whites unincorporated.  The folding process works best when you cut into the whites and lift the yolks mixture up and over them.  When you make large batches of vanilla chiffon cake..double this recipe for instance, you might want to use a plastic bowl scraper to reach down into the batter because otherwise you might not get the batter well mixed.

Divide the batter between the cake pans at 1 pound 2 ounces per cake pan.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes or until golden. Cool in the cake pans at least 15 minutes before depanning and make sure the cakes are completely cool before chilling them in the refrigerator.

For the Fresh Strawberry Mousse:

Wash and remove the stems of 1 pound of strawberries

1 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatin

1/4 cup cold water

2 cups heavy cream whipped

Whip the heavy cream and set aside in the refrigerator.

Puree the clean strawberries in a food processor.  Pour puree into a sauce pan and add the granulated sugar.  Allow to sit for a few minutes to start to draw moisture from the puree and cook on medium high heat until the mixture begins to boil and the sugar completely dissolves.   Place the mixture in a large shallow bowl and allow to cool to a temperature of about 110 degrees F.

Dissolve the powdered gelatin in the cold water and allow to bloom.  Blooming means that all the gelatin will absorb the water.  Microwave the gelatin for about 14 seconds or until it is dissolved and is a temperature of about 110 degrees F.

Pour the gelatin into the strawberry mixture and stir well.  Refrigerate until the mixture has cooled to a tempterature of about 87 degrees F and then fold in the whipped cream.

Clean the tops of the cakes by removing that thin bake layer.  This can be done with a gloved hand or a serrated knife.

The simple syrup can be flavored with pure vanilla extract or Madagascar vanilla bean paste..but it should be a ratio of 2:1 or 2 cups of water to 1 cup of granulated sugar, boiled for 10 minutes and cooled.  Brush the simple syrup as opposed to using squeeze bottles for a more even application of the syrup.  Remember that the chiffon cakes are designed to absorb syrups so don’t be afraid to apply the syrup generously.

Build your cake in the usual manner by lining a 9″ cake pan with plastic wrap.  Add a layer of cake, brush with simple syrup, pipe a dam of Italian meringue buttercream around the cake to hold the filling in, fill with strawberry mousse and put another layer of cake on top of that..repeat!  The top layer of cake should be placed on top of the second layer of mousse upside down so that the bottom is up.  remember you want to have flat tops and straight sides ..especially if you are going to stack the cake for a wedding cake.

Ice the cake with Italian meringue buttercream.  These cakes can easily be covered with white chocolate fondant as long as you chill the buttercream well.  For stacking delicate cakes, make sure your dowels are about 1/16th inch above the surface of the cake so that the cakes on their cake boards are sitting on the dowels and not on the cakes.  It is advisable to deliver delicate cakes in separate cake boxes and not necessarily stacked and delivered.  This is just good advice especially for those of you who might have to deliver cakes up steep hills.

Italian Meringue Buttercream piped flowers

I find Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves, made in France, to be the perfect cherry preserve for this cake.  It is difficult to come by tart cherries, not impossible, but not easy.  The cherry preserves shown here are the perfect in this delightful almond cake.  Swedish butter cake contains a pound of butter for 4 eggs which makes it very rich.  The average American butter cake contains about 8 ounces for 4 eggs so you can see what a treat you are in store for with this beautiful cake.

I will fill the cake layers with a generous layer of the cherry preserves and then put a layer of vanilla buttercream over them.  Try this combination.  You will love it and your brides and grooms will love it as well.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare 3 – 9″ cake pans with pan release and line the cake pans with rounds of parchment paper.

In the bowl of a heavy duty mixer with a paddle, cream together:

1 pound unsalted butter

3 cups granulated sugar

4 ounces pure almond paste

Add one at a time:

4 whole eggs


1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons pure almond extract

Sift together:

4 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt


1 1/2 cups whole milk

Alternate the dry ingredients with the milk in thirds starting with the flour, then adding half the milk, more flour, the other half of the milk and ending with the flour.  Scrape down the mixer well including the paddle.

Mix the batter for a minute making sure there are no lumps of flour in the batter.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool in the cake pan.  When the cakes are cooled, chill them in the refrigerator before depanning.  Run a knife around the cake pan to release the cake, invert the cakes onto a cake board and prepare to fill by trimming the tops of the cakes evenly with a serrated knife.

Build the cakes in a plastic wrapped lined cake pan using a layer of cake, a generous amount of cherry preserves, a thin layer of Italian meringue buttercream on top of the preserves..repeat ending with a top layer of cake with the bottom side up.

Decorate as you wish.

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake with Italian meringue buttercream

Italian meringue buttercream is what I ice and decorate all my cakes with.  It is a sturdy buttercream because a hot sugar syrup is poured into stabalized egg whites that are whipped to a stiff peak.  The hot sugar syrup is taken to a temperature of 245 degrees F and for piping purposes, I will take the temperature to about 250 degrees F.    The egg whites are stabalized with a small portion of the granulated sugar in the raw form.  When the syrup is added to the egg whites the syrup will go towards the raw sugar and temper the syrup so that the egg whites do not turn into an omelet or souffle.

You will need a heavy duty mixer and a wire whip

4 egg whites or 4 liquid ounces

1 cup granulated sugar divided into 3/4 cups for the saucepan and 1/4 cup for the egg whites

1/4 cup cold water

1 pound unsalted butter at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place 3/4 cup granulated sugar into a heavy bottom saucepan with 1/4 cup cold water which is used to moisten all the granulated sugar.  Wash any granules of sugar on the side of the saucepan before you begin to boil it. Boil the sugar in the water until it reaches a temperature of 240 degrees F.   I take the sugar to 250 degrees F if I am going to use it for piping.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a heavy duty mixer and begin to whip the whites as you begin to heat and boil the sugar in the saucepan.  Timing is somewhat important.  You don’t want the sugar to be too hot before the egg whites have whipped completely.  When the whites are at a soft peak, add the 1/4 cup granulated sugar and whip the egg whites to a stiff peak.

The buttercream is not going to be perfectly white because butter is not white.  The pure vanilla extract is not white either but if you add a small amount of confectioners sugar the buttercream will become lighter in color.  Confectioners sugar also allows gel colors to become more vivid.  If you color Italian meringue buttercream without confectioners sugar it can appear grainy and muted..adding a little confectioners sugar and voila, the colors become quite vivid.