Prep 40 mins
Cook 23 mins
A beautiful soft, fine-grained vanilla birthday cake with luscious butter frosting and raspberry jam filling from the amazing folks at America's Test Kitchen. Lemon curd works really well too. You can omit the almonds for a nut-free cake. To quickly bring the milk and egg white mixture to room temperature, set the bottom of the measuring glass in hot water and stir until it feels cool rather than cold, around 65 F. MAKE AHEAD: Cake layers can be wrapped and stored for a day; frosting can be covered with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for several hours. Once assembled, the cake should be covered with an inverted bowl or cake cover and refrigerated. Under its coat of frosting, it will remain fresh for up to three days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. There is enough frosting to pipe a border around the base and top of the cake. If you want to decorate the cake more elaborately, you should make one and a half times the frosting recipe. If desired, finish the sides of the cake with 1 cup of sliced almonds (lightly toasted works well). Recipe is from Cook's Illustrated/Baking Illustrated.
Classic White Cake
- nonstick cooking spray
- 532.32 ml cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans (9 ounces)
- 236.59 ml whole milk, at room temperature
- 6 large egg whites, at room temperature (3/4 cup)
- 9.85 ml almond extract
- 4.92 ml vanilla extract
- 414.03 ml granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
- 19.71 ml baking powder
- 4.92 ml table salt
- 177.48 ml unsalted butter, softened but still cool (1 1/2 sticks)
- 236.64 ml unsalted butter, softened but still cool (2 sticks)
- 946.36 ml confectioners' sugar (1 pound)
- 14.79 ml vanilla extract
- 14.79 ml whole milk
- 0.25 ml table salt
- 118.29 ml blanched slivered almond, toasted and chopped coarse (2 1/2 ounces)
- 78.07 ml raspberry jam (seedless) or 78.07 ml lemon curd
- For the Cake: Set oven rack in middle position. (If oven is too small to cook both layers on a single rack, set racks in upper-middle and lower-middle positions.) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.
- Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.
- Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.
- Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.
- Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.
- Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Reinvert onto additional wire racks. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
- For the Frosting: Beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed until sugar is moistened. Increase speed to medium-high (high if using handheld mixer); beat, stopping twice to scrape down bowl, until creamy and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. Avoid overbeating, or frosting will be too soft to pipe.
- For the Filling: Before assembling cake, set aside 3/4 cup of the frosting for decoration. Spread small dab of frosting in center of cake plate to anchor cake, and set down one cake layer. Combine 1/2 cup of remaining frosting with almonds in small bowl and spread over first layer. Carefully spread jam on top, then cover with second cake layer. Spread frosting over top and sides of assembled cake. Pipe reserved frosting around perimeter of cake at the base and the top. Cut the cake into slices and serve.
You left out a very important step. After mixing the dry ingredients on low speed with your stand mixer, you increase speed to med-low and add the butter (which was previously cut into 12 pieces) one piece at a time, mixing each for 30 secs before adding the next. It may seem silly, but it really makes the cake even better
This recipe was excellent & I would highly recommend it. It came out seeming much harder to make than it actually was. The cake was an elegant, firm, wedding cake type consistency that cannot be yielded from a box mix. I could not believe how great the frosting was, given the simplicity of the ingredients. I was not piping the frosting so I whipped mine a bit more than directed but it won rave reviews. I used Dickinson's lemon curd as a filling and omitted the almonds (at the request of the birthday boy) and was pleased at the way the lemon & the almond flavor in the cake balanced. It was really delicious. I think you could experiment with fillings to suit the tastes of your guests but a tarter filling would better balance the sweetness of the frosting.
This is the recipe I've been needing in my life! I'm a semi-new Baker/decorator and have been struggling with every white or yellow cake recipe I've come across. This one was perfect. Thanks!