I made this cake this weekend as a surprise for my mom on Mother’s Day. We’re not typically a vanilla flavor family (“boring…”), but I needed a neutral cake to go with the real present I was giving her – 3 flavors of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, the best ice cream in the whole world.
The recipe for this cake came from one of my favorite baking blogs, Sweetapolita, and I trusted her when she called it the best vanilla cake recipe she’d ever made. I had to try it. Usually I post healthy recipes here, but I had to make an exception for Mother’s Day – this cake has nothing healthy about it. It’s full of sugar, butter, white flour, and tasty delight…yum!
The method for creating this cake is very specific – it calls for weighing your ingredients in grams rather than measuring in cups. You’ll need a timer as it calls for adding the butter at specific 10 second intervals and then beating the batter for 3 minutes before adding the egg mixture in 20 second intervals.
Some people might find this tedious and opt for a box cake instead, but I love this kind of process and found the cake itself to be far superior to anything you’ll find in a box. The cake is light and fluffy, while also having more density than boxed mix or any other cake I’ve baked.
The recipe calls for beating the butter for 8 minutes, then with the rest of the ingredients for an additional 7 minutes. It turns out so airy and light, you may be tempted to steal a fingertip-full from the bowl like I did.
This cake was a big hit with my family and went alongside my picks from Jeni’s perfectly (I chose Salty Caramel, Queen City Cayenne, and Olive Oil, Saffron, Orange + Caramel Ice Cream). Give this recipe a try next time you’re a homemade cake. It’s a great base to add different flavorings to if you’re like my family and usually think vanilla is a little boring.
- 5 large egg whites (150 g), at room temperature
- 1 whole egg
- 1 cup whole milk (237 ml), at room temperature
- 2-1/4 teaspoons (12 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups (345 g) cake flour, sifted 2
- 2 cups (400 g) sugar
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (17 g) baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt
- 12 tablespoons (170 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 24 even pieces
- 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons (375 grams) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
- 3 cups sifted (475 g) confectioners’ sugar (icing, powdered)
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease, line with parchment, and flour two round 8-inch pans.
- In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
- Add the butter one piece at a time, about every 10 seconds, ensuring it’s cold (you can keep some in refrigerator while you’re adding pieces). Continue to mix on low until the mixture is a fine crumbly texture. Add milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Fold once or twice to ensure the batter at bottom of bowl is incorporated.
- Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh to ensure 2 even layers.
- Bake until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs when inserted into the center, about 30 minutes. Be so careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and then set the timer for 5 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
- Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best eaten the same day as baked.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4” on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
- 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.
- Best used right away.
- You can eliminate the vanilla bean and use a total of 1-1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.
- Place bottom cake layer on cake plate or 8″ round thin cake board and spread 1 cup of frosting on top with a small offset spatula.
- Gently place 2nd cake layer face down on top. Place a generous scoop of frosting on top, spreading evenly with a small offset spatula and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from refrigerator and apply a final “coat” of frosting.
- Store in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in refrigerator for up to 5 days. Best eaten day 1.