Recently a good friend passed her Law Aptitude Exam so I decided to make her a cake to celebrate. I’ve tried to make a decorated cake in the past but I’ve always failed–either the frosting was too runny, or the cake didn’t rise enough while baking. I was wary to go ahead with the project, but I wanted to make something special for my friend.
What I ended up doing is using a yellow cake recipe and a buttercream frosting recipe from AllRecipes.com. The yellow cake recipe is one which I have used several times for making pineapple upside down cake with some additional ingredients. The recipe yields a very moist and fluffy cake. The buttercream frosting recipe I used was a first time trial. I didn’t know what to expect yet. The frosting turned out really great texture-wise, however it was too sweet. I’m modifying the recipe for the purpose of this post.
- 1 cup butter, softened at room temperature but not melting
- 200 g white sugar
- 2 tsp clear vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 160 g flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease an 8-inch round cake tin and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, followed by the eggs, one at a time.
Sift in the flour and baking powder. Fold in just until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.
Pour the batter into the greased cake tin and smooth out. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out with very few crumbs.
Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, use a cake leveler or a sharp bread knife to remove a bit off the top for a level decorating surface and to split the cake into two layers.
The following buttercream frosting recipe is fairly basic. Unlike traditional recipes, this doesn’t require that a syrup be cooked and has no egg yolks. It’s something anyone can whip up if there is no time to separate eggs and pull out the saucepan. I didn’t bother coloring it, but I did decide to give it a mild chocolate flavor with some cocoa powder.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature but not melting
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups confectioners’ (icing) sugar
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons milk
In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and vanilla at medium high for a minute. The butter should fluff up and gain additional volume from the addition of air through beating.
Add two cups of confectioners’ sugar and the cocoa powder and beat for another minute. At this point the frosting should be tasted for sweetness. In case more sweetness is required, add the remaining confectioner’s sugar by 1/4 cupfuls. Beat for 30 seconds in between additions and taste to check for sweetness.
Add the milk to get the right consistency for spreading. Beat for another 30 seconds. The frosting should be fluffy and can hold stiff peaks. It should not fall off the beater in runny globs.
Because confectioner’s sugar is used, the texture is expected to be a bit grainy. This can be minimized by sifting the sugar in a fine sieve before adding to the butter. At a later time I will put up a recipe for smooth buttercream frosting which makes use of syrup and egg yolks.
The bowl can be covered with a cloth until the frosting is ready to be used. In a cool room, the frosting should be fine. But if the environment is particularly warm, it may need to be stored in the fridge until ready for use. Don’t keep it too long in the fridge though, as it may set and be difficult to spread. Now all that’s left is for the creativity to start flowing.
You may have noticed that I attempted to decorate the cake. I’m just starting to learn to use a piping bag and decorating tips so be patient with my work. To add a bit of sparkle, I used colored sugar and colored dragees with a metallic finish. I can’t wait for the next opportunity for me to make a cake with frosting. 🙂