Wednesday, April 13, 2016

White Cake White Icing

I absolutely LOVE white cake with white icing.

I do not often indulge this love, primarily because not everyone loves white cake and white icing the way I do. Secondarily, I try not to get carried away making cakes, which are possibly my favorite of desserts. 
Heidi and our Exceptional White Cake

However, a few years back I met the significant other of my husband's best school chum Richard, from way, way back when. Her name is Heidi, and her birthday is 6 days prior to mine. Born the same year, even! I was amazed! And even better? She LOVES white cake with white icing! Who'd-a thunkit? 

So when she and Rich were here visiting last weekend for the Annual Winefest Renaissance, for the benefit of the Boys and Girls Club of Aberdeen, I indulged in this mutual love for white cake with white icing for our birthday dinner on Friday (though my own actual birthday is not until this coming Saturday).  

I have made many white cakes over the years. I have made white wedding cakes, using the recipe in a Wilton magazine on wedding cakes. That recipe is just-to-die-for-good. I made a wedding cake for my niece back around 2002 or so, and when I was trimming all the rounded tops so the cake would lay flat, all these bits were piled on a plate. All my sisters and nieces and nephews were there picking at the cake pieces. One of my sisters said, "I don't even LIKE white cake - but this is really GOOD!" I've made other white cakes over the years, all of them pretty darned good. But somehow, this one I created last week was truly exceptionally good, and so I have named it "Exceptional White Cake." 
Exceptional White Cake
Exceptional White Cake with Whipped Buttercream Icing

I hate recipes that make such a small amount of cake in the pan that if you want to trim off the rounded dome, you end up with a cake about 1/2-inch thick. That's no cake at all. So I went a bit large with the recipe. I could easily have made these layers in 9-inch pans, but instead I used 8-inch round pans. It made a very tall cake. Very majestic. I suppose you could make two 10-inch layers, and have them be tall enough for something more normal, if desired. This is supposition - I have not done it. So this cake was made in three, straight-sided 8-inch cake pans and while the cakes did not rise higher than the edge of the pans, it made a lovely tall cake.
Whipped Buttercream Icing
Whipped Buttercream Icing

The icing recipe is one I have on my blog from 2013, called Whipped Buttercream Icing. It so happens that I have on hand something called Vanilla Bean Paste. It is a thicker consistency, almost slightly gelatinous, and it contains lots and lots of vanilla seeds. It also carries a stronger vanilla flavor, and all those minuscule seeds are visible in the icing. Heidi absolutely fell in love with the icing, and wanted the recipe, which I shared with her. It takes a little time to make, and really requires a stand mixer, but the flavor and consistency are well worth the time it takes. The icing is also lovely for piping any kind of decorations. I did not decorate the cake for Heidi and me this year, as I was mainly busy with the prep-work for the Winefest Renaissance, but this photo shows how nicely the icing holds shape. I will say this recipe was not large enough to cover the sides of the cake, which was no problem, because I just didn't have time to dedicate to a full-out decorated cake. You might have to increase the recipe by at least 1/2 to accommodate the size of cake. Even double the recipe for the Whipped Buttercream Icing if you are making extensive decorations.

Exceptional White Cake

makes 3 layers, either 8 or 9-inch round pans
Exceptional White Cake

Exceptional White Cake

3 1/2 cups cake flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
12 tablespoons or 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sour cream
6 egg whites, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray three 8 or 9-inch pans with cooking spray. Line the pan bottoms with parchment. Spray the parchment. Set pans aside.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Measure out the milk and set aside. In a glass or metal bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks and set aside. In a mixer bowl, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the sugar gradually and beat until light. Begin adding the dry ingredients alternately in three batches with the milk, mixing until combined after each addition. Mix in the sour cream until no traces are visible. Fold in one-third of the whipped egg whites to loosen the batter, then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites until well combined and distributed. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing equally between pans. Rap the pans sharply on the counter to release trapped air bubbles. Bake the cakes for about 25 minutes, or until a crumb or two remain when inserting a toothpick or other cake tester. 

Allow the cakes to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from pans. If making ahead, allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans. Run a knife around the edges so they do not stick. Wrap well, then place pans in gallon zip-top bags and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Thaw before icing.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.