by Judy Kim
Yield: 2 layer cake (9-inch round) or approximately 22-24 cupcakes
Cake is a new found love for me. I realize now that having the right recipe makes all the difference and until now I didn’t have a go to recipe that was full proof. These are my favorite classic cake and frosting recipes. The yellow cake is adapted from Smitten Kitchen and the frosting is from Gretchen's Bakery. The cake is moist and not too sweet, which is one characteristic I find important in dessert. The frosting is amazing for all occasions especially cakes when I want to do a lot of piping decoration and also in hot weather – this will not melt like a regular buttercream. I do like to make some adjustments from time to time, including adding bitters or citrus zest to give it an extra boost. I’ve been playing with lots of variations and here is a great way to incorporate raspberry compote and fresh raspberries.
Note: Over the years I've learned to appreciate cooking by weight vs measurement. (Honestly, you don't have to clean up all the little measuring cups and spoons.) If you own a scale, you should give it a try. It does feel more accurate and it makes the results more consistent.
4 cups (480 to 530 grams) cake flour
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons (7 to 8 grams) baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 grams) kosher salt
2 sticks (1 cup or 225 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra 2 tablespoons to butter the cake pans.
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk (475 ml), well shaken
2 tablespoons lemon zest
3-4 dashes aromatic bitters (optional)
For garnish: 1 cup fresh raspberries and 2 sprigs of mint
2 pints fresh raspberries
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Zest of one lemon ·
3 dashes aromatic bitters
1 tablespoon cornstarch
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM:
6 fresh large egg whites, 180 grams, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
2 cups (240 grams) confectioners sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups (454 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (170 grams) solid vegetable shortening , at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut out circles of parchment paper to fit two 9-inch round cake pans. Butter both pans all over, add parchment circles and butter top of parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, on medium-high speed beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. At medium speed, add vanilla and begin adding eggs, ensuring each egg is incorporated until adding the next. Scrape down sides of the metal bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk and lemon zest until combined (mixture will look curdled). Optional: add 3-4 dashes of aromatic bitters.
- Spread batter evenly between two cake pans. Smooth it out using an off-set spatula. Tap pan on the counter gently to remove air bubbles. Bake until golden brown, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting toothpick in center of cake and if it comes out clean, it is done. Cool in pan on a rack 10-15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan then invert onto rack and discard parchment paper, then cool completely, at least 1 hour. Don't cool for too long or it may be difficult to remove the pan. If that happens, place in warm oven the cake should loosen.
Cake flour substitute: 1 cup cake flour = 2 tablespoons cornstarch into 1 cup measuring cup and fill with all-purpose flour, make sure to level flour. (Or add 4 tablespoons cornstarch and add flour until it reaches 480 to 530 grams).
Buttermilk substitute: Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar into a liquid measuring cup, and add enough milk until it reaches 1 cup. Stir and let it sit for 5 minutes. It will thicken and look curdled.
- Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat about 10 minutes, whisking to incorporate cornstarch. Stir occasionally until sauce has thickened.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Option to strain mixture, but not necessary.
SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM:
- In a large metal bowl whisk together sugar and egg whites. Set bowl over a pot of boiling water as a double boiler, constantly whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Pour mixture in bowl of electric stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whip on high speed until it is thick, shiny and white. The peaks should be very firm. If they are not firm, the frosting will not be as stable.
- While the egg whites are whipping, sift confectioners sugar. After you reach stiff peaks, add confections sugar and salt all at once into mixer on very low speed until it is fully incorporated.
- Quickly add butter and shortening in 2 to 3 additions. Add vanilla extract.
- Switch to paddle attachment and beat on high speed until smooth, approximately 5 minutes. The longer you beat the frosting, the whiter the color will become.
Optional: If you want to to decorate cake, try adding gel colors using a toothpick as the colors are very concentrated. To create an ombre effect in color, separate frosting into bowls and add increasing amounts of the color to create different hues. I like to fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1M star tip and fill with white frosting plus 1 or 2 diff hues of color into bag evenly from tip to end, this way you will get a multi colored flower each time.
Note: The buttercream can be stored at room temperature for 4 days, up to 2 weeks in refrigerator, 2 months in the freezer.
- Place one cake layer onto a cardboard round. They can be purchased at any cooking / baking supply store or online. If available, preferably place the cake onto a turntable or cake stand. Place 2-inch strips of parchment paper under the edges of the cake and overlap until all edges of the cake stand are covered. This will ensure easy clean up.
- Add frosting to center of cake and spread evenly using off set spatula. Add layer of raspberry compote, leaving 1/2-inch boarder to ensure it will not spread onto the edges of the cake after the second layer is added. Add last cake layer, keep it centered by added bamboo skewers and trimming lengths so they will remain hidden after frosting. One in the center should suffice.
- To create a crumb coating, place large dollop of frosting in center of the cake and spread a light layer of frosting around the entire cake. Place cake in refrigerator for 30 minutes. If that's not possible, just let it rest at room temperature until the frosting has set. This will prevent final frosting layer to be crumb free.
- Place more frosting on center of cake and start spreading layer across the top and pushing it down the sides. In the last stage, smooth out the frosting or make swirly movements to give the frosting texture. I prefer less frosting, so I covered the crumb coating in a thin layer which also gives it a naked cake design effect. Decorate with fresh raspberries and mint sprigs.
As featured on In Style Magazine