Happy birthday to me!
To be honest, every year I’m feeling less excited about this day. I don’t like aging, I just wanna stay 21 forever ahh but what can we do. Let’s talk about this cake I made for my 22nd birthday rather then the scary time.
This cake is pretty sweet. Ehm, literally. It consists of moist white velvet cake with funfetti and vanilla Italian meringue. I always wanted to make a cake all covered in sprinkles and well, the time has come.
Mixing method for the sponge is a little different but it works for this type of moist layer cake. It has a pretty distinct vanilla flavor and it could really be eaten on its own.
Ah buttercream, I used to hate it. I tried many different recipes for it and kept asking myself what am I doing wrong. I only tried regular American buttercream so it was just butter and powdered sugar mixed together and it was always grainy and too buttery and too sweet and I just didn’t understand why people like it, I still don’t. But then I discovered something. Italian meringue buttercream! Or Swiss meringue buttercream, both taste really good and are silky smooth, it’s just the method of making it that’s different. For the Italian one you need a thermometer, so why I chose it over Swiss for which you don’t need one, I don’t know. Maybe because I have a thermometer and wanted to put it in use, yes!
Another thing. Who knows what went through my mind when I decided to make buttercream one more time despite all the previous fails. I really wanted to understand why so many people are using it (yes it’s great for making buttercream flowers, frosting cakes, decorating, putting it under fondant but what about taste ? I think that matters the most so I just didn’t want to give up)
So I made it, Italian meringue buttercream. And no, I still didn’t like it, it tasted too buttery and I didn’t like the texture, it was too firm. So what did I do? I reduced the butter amount and it was perfect! The right amount of sweet, firm and buttery. I’ll admit that because I lowered the butter amount so much I had a little trouble making it to the right consistency but I will master it one day.
– if the buttercream splits – keep mixing, it will come together after some time OR put a warm towel around the bowl and keep mixing.
– if the buttercream is too soupy – put a cold towel around it and keep mixing until it’s the right consistency (the thing that worked for me the most is to just put the bowl somewhere a little colder, wait a little and then mix on)
I decorated the whole cake in sprinkles because that was the whole point for me but I’ll admit that the sprinkles could be overwhelming so if you think this is too much for you just use your imagination to decorate the cake.
350 g flour
4 tsp baking powder
170 g room temperature butter
275 g sugar
4 egg whites (about 135 g)
240 ml buttermilk (can substitute for milk)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
30 g rainbow funfetti/sprinkles
Vanilla Italian meringue buttercream
400 g sugar
120 ml water
9 room temperature egg whites
250 g room temperature buttercream
2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
+ 200 g sprinkles for decoration
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line with parchment paper the bottom of a 20 cm cake pan then grease and flour the whole pan. The batter will be divided into two portions so if you have two 20 cm cake pans you can bake them at the same time, if not, bake the first half and then use the same pan for the second one.
In a bowl mix egg whites, 60 ml buttermilk and vanilla extract until combined.
In another bowl mix together flour, baking powder and, sugar for 20 seconds. Add in the remaining buttermilk and butter. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened then increase to high speed and mix for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl once in a while. Add the egg mixture in 3 batches mixing well after each addition (about 20 seconds). Then put in all of the sprinkles and mix gently by hand to distribute them, with just 3-4 moves. Divide the batter into two prepared cake pans, smooth the surface and bake for about 30 minutes. Check if the cake is baked – insert a toothpick or a knife in the center and if it comes out clean it’s done, if not, bake it for a few more minutes and check again. Cool the cakes on a wire rack.
Italian meringue buttercream
You will have to use a candy thermometer here. Because it takes a long time to mix I recommend using a stand mixer. In a pan, bring water and sugar to a boil. While the sugar mixture is heating place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. When the sugar mixture reaches 110°C start whipping the egg whites first at low speed and when they start to become frothy increase the speed to medium high. At 115°C immediately remove the pan from the heat and in a very thin stream start pouring the sugar mixture into egg whites (which should be stiff by now) with the mixer still running. Now continue to whip your meringue until you feel no heat on the bowl. Touch the bowl with your hands to check if it’s still hot, it should feel like the room temperature before you start adding butter and this can take some time so you can help it cool a bit with wrapping a cold towel around the bowl. When the bowl is no longer warm start adding in butter bit by bit. At this point you can also add in vanilla and salt. When you added in all of the butter mix the buttercream for another 3-5 min, until you reach a desired consistency. If your buttercream curdled just keep beating and it will come together. If the buttercream looks soupy after the mixing you should put it in the fridge for some time to chill and then beat again. At first it will look curdled but just keep mixing until it comes together. For the last few minutes of mixing switch to paddle attachment and mix on medium low speed to remove any air bubbles and smooth it out. The right consistency should look spreadable but not too runny.
If your cakes have a little dome on top just cut it off to make them straight. Spread half of the buttercream on the fist layer of your cake then place the other cake layer on top. Frost the whole cake with a little bit of buttercream to make a crumb coat. Chill the cake in the fridge for 1 hour and then cover it all with the remaining buttercream. To cover the cake in sprinkles put all the sprinkles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With one hand hold the cake and with the other grab a fistful of sprinkles and press them against the sides of the cake until it’s fully covered. Do the same for the top.
When you serve the cake make sure it is room temperature so put it out of the fridge an hour or so!
Recipe for the sponge adapted from: The baking bible