Maple Layer Cake with Maple-Vanilla Buttercream

This maple variation of the “All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake” from the famed Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum may quite possibly be the best cake I’ve ever made. My son chose it to celebrate his 16th birthday. 🙂 His favorite flavor profile usually incorporates vanilla and/or cream soda so this maple cake was a definitely a good choice.

I adapted the recipe to bake the cake in 8-inch cake pans. I also used fine sea salt and substituted vanilla extract for maple extract. It was very moist and rich. Fabulous.

I served this cake after an indulgent meal made to order for my birthday boy. He requested penne alla vodka, chicken parmesan, garlic bread, and Caesar salad. No one argued- all family favorites. 🙂

Yield: One 8-inch layer cake, about 12 to 14 servings

For the Cake: (all ingredients at room temperature)

  • 6 large egg yolks (3.5 fl oz/4 oz/112 g)
  • 1 liquid cup (8.5 oz/242 g) milk (I used 2% milk)
  • 2 1/4 tsp (9 g) pure vanilla extract (can substitute 3/4 tsp vanilla extract + 1 tsp maple extract)
  • 300 g (3 cups/10.5 oz) cake flour, sifted
  • 300 g (2 cups/10.5 oz) maple sugar, sifted (from Whole Foods)
  • 19.5 g (1 T + 1 tsp) baking powder
  • 5 g (3/4 tsp) fine sea salt
  • 12 T (6 oz/170 g) unsalted butter, softened

  1. Butter two 8-inch (2-in deep) cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper. Dust bottom and sides with flour, tap out excess. Set aside. (The layers can alternatively be baked in 9-inch cake pans that are 1 1/2-in deep.)
  2. Position an oven rack in the center position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  3. In a medium bowl, lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup of the milk, and vanilla. (I used a 2 cup measuring cup.)
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed for 30 seconds to blend.
  5. Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low-speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides.
  6. Gradually add the egg-milk mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans. (I weigh them to distribute the batter evenly.) The pans should be about 1/2 full.
  8. Bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. (I baked mine for 27 minutes.) *The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
  9. Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes.
  10. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up. Let cool completely before frosting or storing.

Note: The unfrosted layers can be wrapped tightly and stored for 2 days at room temperature, 5 days refrigerated, and 2 months frozen. The frosted cake should be stored in the refrigerator.

For the Neoclassic Maple-Vanilla Buttercream: (all ingredients at room temperature)

Yield: 4 cups, enough to fill and frost two 8-inch layers

  • 6 large egg yolks (3.5 fl oz/4 oz/112 g)
  • 150 g (3/4 cup/5.25 oz) granulated sugar
  • 164 g (1/2 liquid cup/5.75 oz) pure maple syrup
  • 1 pound (4 sticks/2 cups/454 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoons
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract or maple extract
  1. Grease a 1-cup heatproof measuring cup. Set aside.
  2. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. (I used a stainless steel bowl.) Using a hand mixer, beat the egg yolks until light in color.
  3. Combine the sugar and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a full rolling boil. (The entire surface will be covered with large bubbles- see note.) Immediately transfer the syrup to the prepared glass measuring cup to stop the cooking.
  4. Using a hand mixer, beat the syrup into the egg yolks in a steady stream. Don’t allow the syrup to fall on the beaters. Use a rubber scraper to remove any syrup remaining in the measuring cup.
  5. Continue beating until the mixture is completely cool.
  6. Gradually beat in the butter. (I incorporated 1 stick at a time.)
  7. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  8. Use immediately, or store in an airtight bowl in the refrigerator. (If stored, bring to room temperature before using.)

Note: The syrup must come to a rolling boil or the finished buttercream will be too thin.

Wave Birthday Cake (Yellow Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting & Vanilla Oreo Filling)

One of the few things that my daughter loves as much as her birthday is the beach. That being said, she naturally chose a “wave” theme for her celebratory 14th birthday cake this year. 🙂

The cake recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King. The vanilla cream cheese frosting recipe was adapted from various sources. It was incredibly moist and absolutely delicious.

Similar to my husband, my daughter requests a similar birthday dinner annually, calzones. 🙂 This year we started the day with pumpkin doughnut muffins instead of crumb cake though! Her traditional birthday number cookies were orange inspired by monarch butterflies- another love.

For the Yellow Cake:

Yield: Makes one 9-inch 2-layer cake

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (245g/8.6 oz) sour cream
  • vanilla cream cheese frosting, recipe below
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper and grease the parchment. Dust with flour and shake out the excess.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In another large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  5. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Beat in vanilla.
  7. Add dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, ending with the dry ingredients.
  8. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.
  9. Fold egg whites into cake batter, and pour into the prepared pans. (I weigh the pans to evenly distribute the batter.)
  10. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Remove pans to a wire rack. Cool 10 minutes before removing cake from pans; finish cooling on a rack (parchment paper side down).

For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting and Oreo Filling:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 7 vanilla Oreos, crushed in a food processor, plus more for the decorative “sand”
  • blue gel food coloring
  1. Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low-speed to combine.
  4. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
  5. Meanwhile, place one of the cake layers on a serving platter or cake stand.
  6. Remove 1 1/4 cup of frosting for the Oreo filling and place in separate bowl.
  7. Incorporate the crushed Oreos in the reserved 1 1/4 cups of filling icing. Spread over the top of the first layer of cake.
  8. Place the second layer, inverted, on top.
  9. Tint the remaining frosting pale blue with food coloring, mixing well.
  10. Cover cake with a crumb coat and chill briefly, if necessary before continuing.
  11. Using an offset spatula, ice the sides of the cake with the pale blue frosting. (I used a relatively thin coat.) Reserve 1/4 cup of the pale blue frosting if needed for touchups.
  12. Tint the remaining frosting deeper “ocean blue.” Place in a pastry bag fitted with an open star piping tip.
  13. Then, starting at the bottom of the cake, pipe “waves” of varying sizes. Fill in beneath the upper border.
  14. Pipe “waves” of varying sizes on the top of the cake. Fill in beneath the upper border.
  15. Crush additional vanilla Oreos in a food processor. Sprinkle in the center of the cake and around the outer edge of the serving platter for the decorative “sand.”
  16. Chill prior to serving and store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.

Eleventh Birthday Longboard Cake! (Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing)

The number one gift on my son’s Christmas wish list was a longboard. He learned how to ride one with his friends at the beach this summer and has been desperate for one ever since. My husband & I let Santa know that WE wanted to give it to him! The designs on these longboards are really works of art. I cannot even begin to tell you how long we searched for the perfect one for our special gift. We fell in love with the giant squid eating a lighthouse!! Isn’t it cool? 😉

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So, of course, I tried to recreate this design on his 11th birthday longboard cake. (It’s pretty close considering I recreated the design with cookies and m&m’s!)

The second special thing I must share about this cake is where I got the amazing recipe. One of my friends gave me a very special- out of print- cookbook for Christmas. She has a copy and I had been desperate for my own. It is loaded with gold standard recipes for classic baked goods. The author’s shop is now known as Tate’s Bake Shop in Southampton, New York. What a sweet friend! ❤ I love it!!

The cake and icing recipes were adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King. I used unsalted butter and coarse salt. I also baked the cake in a convection oven. I made the squid, house, and axles with my birthday Number Cookie recipe. If you have been following my blog, you can guess that my son wanted Roman numeral “11’s” (XI’s) this year! 🙂

For the Yellow Cake:

Yield: Makes one 9-inch 2-layer cake (or 1 longboard cake)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • chocolate icing (recipe below)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Grease and flour pans of choice, two 9-inch round cake pans for a layer cake or one Pullman loaf pan, one mini loaf pan, and 4 cupcake tins for a longboard cake.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  5. Beat in vanilla.
  6. Add dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, ending with the dry ingredients.
  7. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into cake batter, and pour into the prepared pans.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove pans to a wire rack. Cool 10 minutes before removing cake from pans; finish cooling on a rack.

For the Chocolate Icing:

Yield: 3 1/2 cups (enough to ice a 9-inch layer cake or 1 longboard cake)

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Confectioners’ sugar
  1. Melt butter and chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler.
  2. Stir in milk; add vanilla.
  3. Stir in sugar.
  4. Place mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  5. Chill mixture for 45 minutes, then beat with an electric mixer every 15 minutes (chilling mixture between beatings) until it becomes light and thick enough to spread. (This will take three or four beatings.)

I’m bringing this one to share with my friends at Fiesta Friday #103 this week hosted by Sonal @Simply Vegetarian777 and Petra @Food Eat Love. Enjoy!!

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Vanilla Rose Cake

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When my daughter saw photos of a rose cake on The Quiet Baker– she had to have it! The rose cake frosting pattern, originally from I am Baker, I believe, is actually quite simple and seems to be popping up all over the place. I think that the pink sugar pearls were a nice addition. What a pretty cake!

My daughter requested a yellow cake with cream cheese frosting; I aim to please. 😉  I used a yellow cake recipe adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, via epicurious.com. The vanilla cream cheese frosting recipe is from Martha Stewart Living. This cake needs a LOT of frosting… I initially made 1 1/2 times the amount for a standard cake, but had to make even more! The recipe below may yield extra frosting (not such a bad thing)- but better safe than sorry. 🙂

The frosting needs to be warm enough to pipe, but not so warm that the roses slide down the sides of the cake. I had to repeatedly chill my frosting to prevent this from happening. I guess that is a drawback of warm weather… (Trust me, after this past winter, I’m not complaining!) I used a 1M pastry tip. Lovely. ❤

Yield: Serves 12

For the Cake:

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (must be softened)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (on convection).
  2. Prepare 2 standard cake pans by lining with parchment paper and grease with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a medium bowl lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla.
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend.
  5. Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides.
  6. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full.
  8. Bake 25 to 27 minutes on convection or up to 35 minutes in a standard oven, or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
  9. Let the cakes cool in the pan on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.

For the Frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • sugar pearls, optional
  1. Beat together butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 1 minute.
  2. Reduce speed to medium. Add confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add salt, milk, and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Note: If not using immediately, cover surface of frosting with plastic wrap. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week. Before using, bring to room temperature, then beat on low speed until smooth.

To Frost the Cake:

  1. Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread 1 cup frosting on top. Place remaining cake layer on top.
  2. Crumb coat the cake. Chill for about 10 minutes.
  3. Using a pastry bag fitted with the 1M tip, pipe rows of rosettes, starting from the bottom edge and work upwards towards the center of the top. (Piping the side is a little more challenging than piping the top, so try to do a couple of practice rosettes on the side first, then scrape them off  being careful not to take off any crumbs.) (a 2D tip could also be used)
  4. Once the entire cake is covered in piped rosettes, pipe in little ‘stars’ to fill any areas between the roses.
  5. Add on edible sugar pearls, if desired.

Note: If frosting becomes too soft, refrigerate to firm up. The cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated overnight.

**Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.**

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Minecraft Enderman Cake

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An Enderman is a character in a video game called Minecraft. My son and his friends LOVE Minecraft. It is the “LEGO” of the video game world, building worlds, etc. I think that my son is drawn to the Enderman character in particular because it has the ability to teleport in order to avoid danger- how cool! 🙂

My son- who was also an Enderman for Halloween this year- requested an Enderman cake for his 9th birthday party at Lazerland! (For those of you without a young boy in your household Lazerland is Laser tag.) I realized that this cake could have used an additional layer to make it more “Enderman-esque” (more of a cube) but I didn’t have a large enough crowd to warrant a 4-layer cake. I made two layers of Classic Yellow Cake (almost a pound cake- my son’s favorite) with a “Busy Day Chocolate Cake” in-between. I had to weigh the batter in order to split in in half (weight below) because I only have one 9-inch square pan. I used vanilla buttercream as the filling between the layers (twice the recipe), and chocolate frosting on the outside- because an Enderman is black (close enough…). The chocolate frosting was very fudge-like and decadent. The cake was HUGE and delicious.

I made the eyes when making our family’s traditional Number Cookies, sugar cookies cut into the number of the birthday being celebrated.  I didn’t need my number “9” cookie cutter to make Number Cookies for my son’s birthday this year– he decided he wanted Roman numerals!! 🙂 We gave the cookies to our birthday party guests with an explanation: IX = 9! 🙂 He is a character.

For the Classic Yellow Cake: 

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

Yield: Makes 2 layers or 2 square cakes (each half of the batter weighs 2 lbs 8.5 oz)

  • 4 1/4 cups (530 g) cake flour
  • 1 T plus 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups (560 ml) milk
  • 1 1/2 T vanilla extract
  • 20 T (2 1/2 sticks / 315 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 g) granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  1. Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
  2. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour the 9-inch square cake pan(s).
  3. To make the cake, over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the milk and vanilla; set aside.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition until just incorporated, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s) and spread the batter evenly. Bake until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the enter comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan(s) to a wire rack and let cool completely.

IMG_7182

For the Chocolate Frosting:

Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

  • 8 oz (250 g) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (I used Trader Joe’s 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 1 1/3 cups (345 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (375 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  1. To make the frosting, in a heatproof bowl set over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan, melt the chocolate; let cool to room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth, creamy and slightly fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl to evenly distribute the chocolate.

To Frost the Cake:

  1. Place one Yellow Cake layer, top side down, on a serving plate. (I place pieces or parchment paper around the edge of the cake to keep the serving plate clean.) Using an icing spatula or a knife, spread half of the vanilla buttercream frosting evenly on top. (The recipe was doubled.)
  2. Place the “Busy Day Chocolate Cake” on top. Spread the other half of the vanilla buttercream evenly over the top.
  3. Place the final Yellow Cake layer on top, top side down. Spread the chocolate frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Remove the protective parchment paper, if using.
  4. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes before serving to set the frosting. (I refrigerated the cake overnight.)

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One Year Ago:

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