Cherry-Vanilla Delight Cake

Cherry Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

I have very fond memories of cherry chip cake, I really do. (You know, as opposed to all of those very unpleasing memories of other cake varieties.) But it does seem that I hold a special place in my heart for the irresistibly sweet and old-fashioned cherry chip cake. The idea of it triggers not only childhood memories for me, but grown-up memories that make me smile.

I remember the very first birthday I celebrated with my husband’s mom and family, I was turning 29. Grant and I had been together for only 5 months at the time, and we spent my birthday weekend at their cottage in Gananoque. Grant’s mom, Mary Lou, had asked Grant what kind of cake I would like her to make. He assured her that if it was cherry chip and iced in pink, it would be the perfect birthday cake for me (who knew?). I remember that cake so well. It was a perfect cherry chip heart-shaped cake (my favourite cake-shape from childhood) smothered in glorious waves of glossy pale pink marshmallow frosting–she even adorned it with some perfect marshmallow flowers! If I didn’t already know in my heart that I was going to marry Grant at that point, that cake would have likely convinced me. ♥

Sweetapolita

You might remember my reflecting on another cherry chip cake memory, a rather monumental one, from our relationship, here in this post. You can see me sneaking a few bites of the one above, on our wedding day, after Grant (my non-baker man) surprised me by making it the day before our wedding and having the staff at the Inn put it in our room that night while we were at our wedding rehearsal. Cherry chip cake with pink icing holds a place in our hearts (you learn why here). I couldn’t resist  eating it that day–wedding dress and all–mostly because it meant the world to me, and also because it’s simply the yummiest.

Cherry Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

So if cherry chip cake means so much to me, and us, why have I never made it from scratch before? I have no idea. And I think we can add that to the wonders of the world. Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense. But, here’s what: I made this cake 4 times last week! Well, different variations of it, but I made it. Then made it again. And again. And again. See, it was my birthday and it’s all I could think about–tender vanilla cake with a hint of sweet cherry flavour and little bits of maraschino cherries throughout and smothered in a marshmallow frosting. Since the cherry chip cakes I’ve eaten in my life, and that are so cozily tucked away in my memory, were all baked from cake mixes, I decided to visit some websites to find a good scratch version. Strangely, there really aren’t many out there, but I did come across Deborah’s over at Taste and Tell–hers looks amazing!

Cherry Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Deborah had modified a fabulous party cake recipe (Perfect Party Cake) from baking genius Dorie Greenspan to create her Cherry Chip version, and since I’ve been eager to try that recipe from Dorie’s book Baking: From My Home to Yours, I ended up slightly adapting Deborah’s recipe for what is now in my top 3 best-loved cake recipes. I did make this cake 4 times, as I said, and the first two attempts I used different cake recipe bases, but I just didn’t love them. I then went ahead and tried Deborah’s and loved it! I increased the recipe to create a 3 layer 8-inch round cake, and made only a few other small changes, such as adding almond extract, using vanilla sugar (I keep a vanilla pod in my sugar jar at all times, so when I bake the sugar enhances recipes to a super vanilla-ness), and adding a few drops of a very concentrated cherry flavour oil. Dorie’s cake layer recipe yields cake that is so light and tender that I’m eager to make an all-vanilla version soon. She is amazing.

I think I may have cherry-chipped my Instagram friends to death last week, but since I was eating, sleeping and breathing it, I couldn’t seem to help it. Here’s one of the first versions I made, and as delightfully cherry vanilla as it was, the layers were just a bit dense in the end. Because my memories are based on the cake mix variety, it was super important to me that the scratch version was a light and fluffy as possible.

Here’s a shot of the third version of the cake I made (mid-frost), with its light and tender cake layers and filled and frosted with Grant’s mom’s old-fashioned frosting (also known as 7 minute frosting, marshmallow frosting, boiled frosting, etc.) that she used for my birthday cake those years ago. The cake tasted incredible with its tender layers filled with sweet and juicy bits of maraschino cherry, hints of almond and vanilla, and covered in billowy marshmallow frosting. I tinted a small amount of the frosting pink for a pastel ombre effect (a subtle version of the pastel swirl technique from this post) and slathered it on generously. Even though the frosting is sweet, with no butter (or any fat for that matter) it’s best enjoyed in bounteous swirls.

I filled and frosted in the old-fashioned frosting, which was fluffy and glorious, but when I made it the final time I actually filled it with a sweet cherry buttercream (I made from my favourite party frosting, Whipped Vanilla Frosting). I just found that it allowed the cake to set nicely without and slipping and sliding, and then I covered the entire cake in copious amounts of the old-fashioned frosting.

Cherry Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

This cake may not look fancy, but I can sincerely say it’s my current favourite. Cherry-Vanilla love. ♥

Cherry-Vanilla Delight Cake

Yield: One 3-layer, 8-inch round cake

Ingredients

    For the Cake Layers:
  • 3-1/3 cups (370 g) sifted cake flour
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (20 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (7 g) salt
  • 1-3/4 cups (415 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) cherry juice/syrup (from the jar of cherries)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.75 ml) almond extract
  • 1-2 drops cherry flavour, *optional
  • 2-1/4 cups (450 g) vanilla sugar (or regular sugar)
  • 1-1/2 sticks (173 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (178 ml) finely chopped maraschino cherries
  • For the Whipped Vanilla-Cherry Filling:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks)(227 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 2 cups (250 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) maraschino cherry juice/syrup (from the jar of cherries)
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • a handful of finely chopped maraschino cherries
  • For Nanny's Old-Fashioned Frosting:
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup (200 grams) of vanilla sugar (you can substitute regular sugar)
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract (optional)

Instructions

    For the Cake Layers:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and center the oven rack. Grease, line with parchment and flour three round 8-inch pans. (I use Parchment Paper Circles for ease.) Put two of the pans on a baking sheet (you will bake two layers then the third layer afterwards).
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together the milk, eggs, cherry juice/syrup, almond extract and cherry flavor oil (if using) in a medium bowl or large glass measuring cup.
  3. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk or paddle attachment (I used the whisk), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until very pale and creamy, about 5 minutes.
  4. With the mixer still on medium speed, alternate additions of the flour mixture and milk-egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 dry additions, 2 wet), beating after each addition until incorporated. Continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in finely chopped cherries.
  5. Divide batter evenly among 3 cake pans, smoothing the surface with a small offset spatula or rubber spatula. Use a digital kitchen scale for accuracy (mine were 560 grams per pan + one 60 gram cupcake tester), if possible. Bake until a skewer comes out with a few crumbs only, about 30 minutes. Cakes should be well-risen and springy to the touch.
  6. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for 5 minutes, then loosen the edges by running a knife around the sides. Gently turn out the cakes, peel of parchment paper bottom, then cool right side up. Bake the third cake and repeat.
  7. For the Whipped Vanilla-Cherry Filling:
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 5 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  9. Add remaining ingredients, except the cherries, and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Filling will be very light, creamy, and fluffy. Fold in cherries.
  10. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency).
  11. For Nanny's Old-Fashioned Frosting:
  12. Place all ingredients except the vanilla (if using) into a large heatproof bowl that fits snugly atop a medium saucepan of simmering water on the stove (about one inch of water). Place the bowl tightly on top of the saucepan and beat the ingredients with a hand mixer until thick and glossy, about 5-7 minutes. Be sure that the bottom of your bowl does not touch the water.
  13. Remove the bowl from the saucepan, wipe the bottom of the bowl dry, and place on the counter. Continue to beat until the frosting is cool (or at least just slightly warm) and beat in the vanilla extract, if using.
  14. Best used right away.
  15. Assembly of the Cherry-Vanilla Delight Cake:
  16. Trim any doming or top crust from cake layers using a very sharp serrated knife.
  17. Use a cake turntable, if possible, for filling, frosting and decorating. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of a cake plate or 8″ round thin foil-covered cake board, and place the bottom cake layer on top, top side up (face-up).
  18. Place ~1 cup of Whipped Vanilla-Cherry Filling on top of the cake layer, and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife. Gently place 2nd cake layer, face up, on top. Repeat, then place your third layer face down.
  19. Put a generous scoop of Nanny's Old-Fashioned Frosting on top, spreading evenly from the top down to the sides until you have smothered the entire cake in the frosting. Use the back of a spoon or small offset palette knife to create the swirly texture. If you are creating the ombre effect, tint one third of your frosting with the gel colour of your choice and apply to the lower third of your cake, taking care to not over blend.

Notes

[cake layer recipe adapted from Taste and Tell]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes on the Cherry Cake Layers

  • Be sure to chop your cherries as tiny as possible so they distribute nicely throughout the cake.
  • This was the first time I had baked cake in pans upon a baking sheet, as per Dorie’s cake instructions, and I really felt this made the bottoms of the cake layers perfect. There was a very light, thin golden bottom on each cake.
  • I happened to have LorAnn Cherry Flavor Oil on hand, and although I don’t typically add this kind of candy flavouring to cakes, I felt that it would give the cherry taste a boost, and that it would be even more reminiscent of the beloved cherry chip cake mix. I added only two drops (it’s so concentrated), but I would do it again next time (and oh yes, there will be a next time).
  • As I mentioned, I keep a vanilla pod buried in my sugar canister at all times and I use that sugar for almost all of my baking and cooked frostings, etc. Once your vanilla bean is scraped and seeds and pod are buried in your airtight sugar container, you will have vanilla sugar in about 1-2 weeks. The longer it sits, the more vanilla you will taste. I typically add pure vanilla extract to recipes as well, but usually a little less than I normally would.
  • With every cake I bake, I like to place a cupcake liner into the same-size ramekin and fill 2/3 full with batter and bake along with the layers. That way I can taste test the cake before frosting, filling and serving.

Sweetapolita’s Notes on the Old-Fashioned Frosting

  • I used vanilla sugar for the frosting, so I didn’t add any additional vanilla extract.
  • You will want to make this frosting at the very last minute, right before you need to use it.
  • It goes on like a dream, but you will want to work quickly as it begins to thicken in the bowl.
  • Cakes frosted with this type of frosting are best enjoyed the day they are made.
  • This frosting does not store or keep well, but it is pure heaven the day it’s whipped up.
  • Pure white frosting makes a perfect base for gel colours–no buttery tone to work against! It makes for particularly lovely pink shades because the colours stay so true.

I’ll be back soon, my friends!

Good luck & enjoy!



Related posts:

Pink Éclairs {Winner of the Amy Atlas Sweet Designs Giveaway!}

Happy Wednesday! Here is the winner of the Amy Atlas Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It book giveaway:

#393 Patisserie Paris: “I like a more classic/elegant style for a dessert table!”

Congratulations! (I will be also notifying you by email.)

And thank you to everyone for sharing their favourite dessert table/party themes and party treats!

See you soon with a sweet & summery recipe.

Today is the day! Amy Atlas, sweet table designer and blogger (and so much more) extraordinaire, is celebrating the release of her first book, Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It–and what a book it is. As you know, I love all things sweet and pretty, and this book is jam-packed with some of the loveliest and most wonderfully crafted dessert and party table ideas I’ve ever seen. Amy shares 175 recipes and seemingly countless crafty ideas for readers to whip up impressive (and charming) dessert displays. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this gem, and after reading it almost all in one sitting I am certainly inspired.

I’m excited to say that one lucky reader is going to win a copy of their own, courtesy of Amy!

Pink Eclairs via Sweetapolia

While reading the book, I was immediately drawn to the chapter entitled Pastel Pretty (naturally), which showcases the most appealing array of pastel sweets and baked goods that take center stage on an incredible dessert table inspired by–you guessed it–pastel colours (think pastel cotton candy, pastel sugar cookie rounds, pastel cake bites and more). When I spotted a recipe for “Pink Éclairs,” I was smitten. I love the idea of including authentic French éclairs on a dessert table (or of course making them for any day of the week) and tweaking them just slightly to give them a pretty twist. So I decided to make a batch. With the crispy pastry (classic Pâte à Choux dough, which is much easier than it sounds) filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with sweet pink glaze, they are every bit as delightful as you would expect “Pink Éclairs” to be.

Pink Eclairs via Sweetapolita

Although you might expect this treat to be a tricky one to make, Amy’s recipe was easy to follow and a great success. I’ve shared the recipe for these delights below, and I know this is only the beginning of my adventures with Sweet Designs.

And for even more celebratory posts in honour of Amy’s new book (and more chances to enter to win your own copy!), be sure to pop by and visit my friends:

Cheryl from Tidy Mom sharing Honey Panna Cotta

Marian from Sweetopia sharing Chocolate Beehive Cupcakes

Jamie from My Baking Addiction sharing Banana Whoopie Pies

Callye from The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle

Darla from Bakingdom sharing Mini Strawberry Trifles

Bridget from Bake at 350 sharing Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles

Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod sharing Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Amanda from I am Baker sharing Chocolate Cupcakes

Here are the details and how to enter this giveaway:

1. Leave a comment and tell me, “What type of party/dessert table theme best suits your personality?” (eg. modern, preppy, vintage, superhero, rainbow, etc.) or “What was the last party treat you made (or enjoyed)?

2. For an extra entry you can tweet: “I want to win a copy of @amyatlas ‘s amazing new book, Sweet Designs, from @Sweetapolita!” Simply come back here and leave a comment telling me you tweeted.

3. Contest ends May 1, 2012 at midnight (EST) and winners will be selected using random.org and notified by email and announced here on the blog. You must leave a valid email address (will not be displayed) in your entry.

4. One entry per person, please (or two, with tweet). *Your comment may not appear right away.

*Prize courtesy of Amy Atlas. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.

And here is the recipe for the Pink Éclairs, as written in the book Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It, by Amy Atlas:

Pink Éclairs

Yield: 12-14 4-inch éclairs

For the Vanilla Pastry Cream

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

5 egg yolks

1 cup whole milk

1 cup half-and-half

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Pâte à Choux

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 large eggs

For the Glaze

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Pink food coloring gel

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add the egg yolks and whisk until combined; set aside.

2. Combine the milk and half-and-half in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until it simmers. Whisk half of the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return egg-milk mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and two or three large bubbles appear on the surface. Whisk in the vanilla and butter. Pour the mixture into a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until set, at least 3 hours.

3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine 3/4 cup water, butter, sugar, and salt over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture just comes to a boil. Quickly stir in the flour and continue to stir until the mixture comes together and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to stir for 2 minutes more (a film may form on the bottom of the pan–this is okay).

4. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until the mixture cools slightly and the steam disappears, about 3 minutes.

5. Slowly add the eggs, one at a time, mixing to completely incorporate after each addition. Stop mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle as necessary.

6. Spoon the batter into a pastry bag or resealable plastic bag fitted with a round tip (Wilton Round Tip #1a). Pipe 12 to 14 straight 4-inch lines, spaced 2 inches apart, onto the baking sheet.

7. Bake for 15 minutes, do not open the oven door. At this point, the éclairs will be puffed and golden brown. Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake until éclairs appear dry and are a deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Do not underbake; this may cause the éclairs to collapse. Let cool completely on pan.

8. When éclairs have cooled, use a small skewer to poke a hold in either end of each one. Gently move the skewer around the inside the éclair to clear a space for the cream.

9. Spoon the cooled pastry cream into a pastry bag or resealable plastic bag fitted with a Wilton Round Tip #230. Fill éclairs with pastry cream from both ends, taking care to not overfill.

10. In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and 1 to 2 tablespoons of water until smooth. Stir in a few drops of pink food coloring until the desired color is achieved. Hold an éclair over the bowl of glaze, spoon the glaze over it, and spread to coat the top. Place the éclairs in individual rectangular treat cups and arrange on a rectangular platter in a single layer. Replenish platter as necessary.

I had so much fun making these decadent and pretty-as-can-be éclairs, and now off I go to bake, craft and style everything else in this incredible book.

Good luck & enjoy!


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Super-Duper Vanilla {or Funfetti} Cupcakes

Funfetti Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

I know it may seem as though lately all I bake with and talk about is white cake & sprinkles, but I promise there are so many delightful-yet-unsprinkled baked goods coming your way in the next while. See, I’m certain this current sprinkle obsession of mine is just a phase–you know, much like my 1990′s obsession with Bret Michaels. I mean, come on . . . really. What was I thinking?

No, wait, you’re right–that was no phase. And neither is my love for sprinkles: I’m devoted.

But, that doesn’t mean that I want *ahem* “white cake & sprinkles” every day. However, I was crazy about them all week. And last week. And a flurry of times before that, but honestly, I do bake sans sprinkles from time to time. We also happen to have had several birthday celebrations going on this past week, so it just seemed like a pretty good idea. But actually this post isn’t about sprinkles. It’s about vanilla cupcakes–classic, white, fluffy, vanilla cupcakes. Sure, you can funfetti them by adding sprinkles, which is never a bad idea, but the best part about these is the actual vanilla cupcake.  I usually even skip the frosting when I make these for myself, and eat them all one single cupcake warm out of the oven, in all its glory. There’s just nothing like an amazing vanilla cupcake.

Funfetti Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

So what makes these cupcakes the “super-duper” vanilla cupcakes? Well, I think it’s really just a matter of personal preference, so for me it’s what makes it my ultimate vanilla cupcake: it’s fluffy, moist, truly vanilla (love those vanilla bean flecks!), all with only a hint of that “egginess.” You know the one? So what these cupcakes are is really a modification from the recent Funfetti Layer Cake and Fluffy Vanilla Cake posts, to make them a little more ideal for cupcakes. Although, both of those recipes make really good cupcakes, I love a vanilla cupcake made with whole eggs, so this includes mostly whites (makes it nice and white & fluffy) but with 1 whole egg as well. I also used 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening (gasp!), which I don’t often do, but I really love it in these.

Lastly, a few weeks ago I made some vanilla sugar (this could not be any easier, guys), which is essentially just adding a fresh vanilla bean and its seeds into regular white sugar for about a week or so (at least) and then using it in place of plain sugar. I figured that would indeed make these my ultimate cupcakes. I’m actually kind of hooked on vanilla sugar now–I love it in coffee, tea, cappuccino, sugar cookies–you name it. So, yes, I may have a new vanilla sugar addiction, but I certainly do not have a sprinkle addiction.

I mean, really? A sprinkle addiction? Completely absurd. Sure, I buy a few now and again, but it’s not like I buy them in bulk.

Nope, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

So when I sit and do the math, we actually made 80+ Super-Duper Vanilla Cupcakes in the past week or so. The girls helped me bake them and decorate them–some classic vanilla and some funfetti, but all super moist, super yummy and super vanilla. Good thing I have such hard-working cakelets.

Actually no, wait–the frosting is completely necessary: it’s clearly the much-needed glue to hold a generous medley of sprinkles.

Grab a pretty box and some twine or ribbon, and you’ve got yourself a heartfelt, handmade box of happiness to share with someone awesome.

And since I’m a big fan of handmade gifting, I believe it’s always a great idea to Say it with {Cup} Cake!

Speaking of cupcakes, brace yourself for this recent post from Melissa at Best Friend’s for Frosting: 28 Popular Dessert Bloggers Share Their All-Time Favorite Cupcake Recipe. Whoa!

And, in other news, here’s what’s been up with me this past week (aside from making 80+ Super-Duper Vanilla Cupcakes and not buying copious amounts of sprinkles):

  • My very close baker & blogger pal, Shauna Sever, celebrated the official release of her first book, Marshmallow Madness! just a few days ago. Simply put, this book rocks. Oh, but so does Shauna.
  • As I write this post, I have cupcakes galore happening in the oven, to celebrate a new and amazing friend’s birthday this weekend. Then I somehow came across this. Then I remembered that I received these for Christmas. Oh boy.
  • A local blogging pal, Christina, is also celebrating the launch of her book this week, Scientifically Sweet. This book looks incredible! I’ve always loved her scientific approach, and she makes the most delectable desserts.
  • This Sunday, March 4th, I will be chatting to a group from the Canadian Society of Sugar Artistry, in Toronto, Ontario, about some tips & tricks for taking better cake photos. Check out the link if you’d like to learn more! *You don’t need to be a member to attend.
  • After receiving oodles of emails inquiring about what “stuff” I use in my baking and caking endeavours, I’ve added a new Sweetapolita Shop, powered by Amazon, to the site, and have included my favourite ingredients, tools, books, photo equipment and more. It’s a work in progress, so I will be adding new things regularly.
  • I continued to embrace my Instagram dependency by snapping many random photos. If you’re not already Instagram-ing, I highly recommend it! Remember this post?

Happy March!

Super-Duper Vanilla {or Funfetti} Cupcakes

Yield: 24 standard size cupcakes

Ingredients

    For the Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup whole milk (237 ml), at room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites (120 g), at room temperature
  • 1 egg, whole, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) almond extract
  • 3 cups (350 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1-1/2 cups vanilla sugar (300 g)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder (19.5 g)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (5 g)
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, softened but cool, and cut into cubes
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) vegetable shortening (I used Crisco)
  • 1/2 cup Rainbow Jimmies or Confetti Quins
  • For the Frosting:
  • 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons (375 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3.5 cups (400 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • a medley of sprinkles for decorating

Instructions

    For the Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two standard muffin pans with your favourite baking liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of milk, vanilla and the almond extract. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the vanilla sugar, together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter and shortening, and blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 cup of milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. If you're making Funfetti cupcakes, simply fold in the rainbow jimmies or confetti quins, until just combined.
  6. Divide the batter into your prepared pans (I always use a 50 mm cookie scoop for perfectly even cupcakes), no more than 2/3 full. Bake until a toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center of the cupcake, about 16-18 minutes. Be so careful to not over-bake.
  7. Place hot baking pans on wire racks, then carefully (they're hot!) remove the cupcakes from the baking pans immediately, to let cool. Let cool completely before frosting.
  8. For the Frosting:
  9. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  10. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
  11. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency). To get frosting super smooth (no air bubbles), use a silicone spatula and in an aggressive side-to-side motion, pushing the frosting back and forth against the sides of the bowl. You will hear a sort of paddling sound. Do this every so often while you use the frosting--it keeps it super smooth.
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Vanilla Sugar

This vanilla sugar is lovely for baking, but can be used anytime you would use regular sugar. This recipe makes an extra 1/2 cup of sugar than what's needed for the cupcakes, so you will have some left in your sugar canister for tea, coffee and more.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, whole

Instructions

  1. Place your sugar in a canister or other airtight container. Slice your vanilla bean down the center with a small, sharp knife, and scrape all of the seeds from the inside. Add the seeds to the sugar, bury the bean inside and seal the container.
  2. Sugar will be "vanilla-ized" in 1-2 weeks.
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[vanilla sugar recipe source: Alton Brown]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • If you do not have access to cake flour, you can quickly and easily make your own to substitute. Learn how in this previous post, Bring Me Flours.
  • You can replace the vanilla sugar with regular granulated sugar, and add the seeds from 1 vanilla bean to the milk portion of the cupcake batter steps.
  • for a gorgeous pink vanilla sugar & gifting idea, check out this gorgeous Valentine’s Vanilla Sugar Giftable from Maddy at Somewhere Splendid.
  • As with any vanilla cake, you can use 100% liquid egg whites in the batter (simply weigh them on your kitchen scale), which saves wasting the yolks.
  • You can omit the almond extract, but I do promise that it really gives the cake wonderful flavour–the finished cake/cupcakes don’t taste like almond, per se.
  • For the funfetti sprinkles inside the cake, you can experiment, but I recommend the Rainbow Jimmies or Confetti Quins. The cupcakes in this post are made with the confetti quins. The tops of the cupcakes are decorated with a mix of almost every sprinkle I have! I recommend grabbing a handful of each type you like, placing them all in a small bag and shaking them up to create your medley. That way they sprinkle evenly!

Good luck & enjoy!

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Funfetti Layer Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting

Funfetti Cake via Sweetapolita

Hooray for funfetti! Do you remember Funfetti cake mix? Was it your favourite cake as a child? As a grown-up? Vanilla cake filled with little bits of rainbow sprinkle goodness is one of those treats that never gets boring–even the word, “funfetti,” is a party waiting to happen. As a blogger, I’m also a bit late to this party, as it seems there were so many fabulous variations of this cake (and so many other types of desserts) floating around the web last year, but since I am a huge fan of this cake, I couldn’t resist sharing it with you today. I made it again over the weekend as a welcome home surprise for my two little cakelets, Reese & Neve. They were away visiting Grant’s mom, “Nanny,’” for a few days, and I knew that they would do backflips to come home to funfetti cake (and to mommy & daddy, of course!).

So, as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as “funfetti layer cake” sounds, looks and tastes, it couldn’t be any simpler to make. Okay, ready? You take your favourite vanilla cake and you add rainbow jimmies (you can also use the confetti quins) into the batter . . . oh, and then you bake it up. See, even if I tried to make it sound complicated, I couldn’t–it’s likely the most rewarding baked good you will ever make, considering it’s the most fun (ever!) and is so easy. Now, that being said, because we’re doing a scratch version of a famed cake-mix cake, I think it tastes the best to start with the whitest, fluffiest scratch cake possible, one that almost mimics a boxed cake.

So what I used this time was a modified version of the Fluffy Vanilla Cake that I posted awhile back. I have done this before using it as it was, which was also great, but this time I made just a few small changes: a bit more cake flour, a bit less sugar and a touch of almond extract (trust me, it doesn’t come out tasting almond-y, but just pure white cake yumminess), were some of the changes I made. For the frosting, I like to pair this cake with a sweeter frosting (likely due to childhood birthday cake memories), so I use my favourite variation, which is whipped and tastes like vanilla ice cream (for some inexplicable reason). Overall, it’s funfetti-tastic.

Funfetti Cake via Sweetapolita

Since this cake was for my little girls only (not a big crowd), I didn’t want to do anything too crazy, tall or complicated, but the possibilities are endless, really. 4-layer? 6-layer? Domed? I bet you can’t go wrong. As for the decorating sprinkles, you can go crazy sprinkle happy with any variation you love. I personally love confetti quins, so I used those for the top (and a sprinkling on top of the center filling frosting layer!), well, that and I used up all of my rainbow jimmies in the batter. I may or may not have made an earlier double batch of this batter over the weekend, in which I forgot to add the, um, sugar! So, my stash of rainbow jimmies was drastically depleted before I made this batch. Boo! But honestly, you can add any or every sprinkle you own as the final decoration for your cake, and I bet it would look amazing–sprinkles never disappoint.

Funfetti Cake via Sweetapolita

And, trust me, the funfetti doesn’t stop here. Check out these previous sprinkle treats from some of my baking friends around the web:

Naomi’s Funfetti Cheesecake Pops

Amanda’s Mini Funfetti Cupcakes

Heather’s Sprinkle Cake

Jessica’s Homemade Funfetti Cupcakes

Caroline’s Chocolate Covered Funfetti Cake Balls

Katrina’s Cake Batter Ice Cream Bread

Shelly’s Double Glazed Funfetti Donuts

Funfetti Layer Cake with Whipped Vanilla Frosting

Yield: One 2-layer, 8-inch round cake

Moist, fluffy vanilla confetti cake filled and topped with a sweet and creamy vanilla frosting and sprinkles.

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites (175 g), at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) almond extract
  • 2-3/4 cups (315 g) cake flour, sifted
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (19.5 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (5 g) salt
  • 12 tablespoons (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup Rainbow Jimmies (or a few generous handfuls)
  • For the Frosting:
  • 3 sticks + 2 tablespoons (375 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3.5 cups (400 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt
  • rainbow jimmies, quins or other any other sprinkles for decorating

Instructions

    For the Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease, line with parchment, butter and flour two round 8-inch pans.
  2. In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the eggs, 1/4 cup of milk, vanilla and the almond extract. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients, including the sugar, together on low speed (I use the “stir” setting on my mixer) for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the butter and blend on low speed for about 30 seconds, then add remaining 3/4 cup of milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes.
  5. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg/milk mixture in 3 separate batches; beat on medium for 20 seconds after each addition. Gently stir in the rainbow jimmies, until just combined.
  6. Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the batter in the pans to ensure 2 even layers.
  7. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean when inserted into the center. Be so careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals.
  8. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.
  9. For the Frosting:
  10. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  11. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy.
  12. Best used right away (for ideal spreading consistency).
  13. Assembly of the Funfetti Cake
  14. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of a cake plate or 8-inch round thin cake board, and place the bottom cake layer on top.
  15. Place 1 cup of frosting on top of the cake layer, and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife. Sprinkle a handful of sprinkles (jimmies, quins--anything!) on top of the frosting (optional).
  16. Gently place 2nd cake layer face-down on top. Place a generous scoop of frosting on top, spreading evenly with a small offset palette knife and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. Chill until set, about 30 minutes.
  17. Remove from refrigerator and cover cake with a final layer of frosting. Sprinkle until your heart's content!

Notes

Wrap baked cake layers tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best eaten the same day as baked.

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[cake layers adapted from Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • If you do not have access to cake flour, you can quickly and easily make your own to substitute. Learn how in this previous post, Bring Me Flours.
  • This unconventional method of blending the butter with the sugar and dry ingredients first is called the “reverse creaming method,” and was pioneered by cake guru, Rose Levy Beranbaum.
  • As with any vanilla cake, you can use 100% liquid egg whites in the cake layers (simply weigh them on your kitchen scale), which saves wasting the yolks.
  • For the funfetti sprinkles inside the cake, you can experiment, but I recommend the Rainbow Jimmies or the Confetti Quins that you see on top of my cake.
  • For a 4-layer Funfetti Cake, you could simply slice each of your two cake layers in 2, or for a 3-layer cake, simply divide the batter among 3 round 8″ cake pans (the layers will be shorter, but you will have 3!).
  • The cake base for this Funfetti version is a slightly adapted version of the Fluffy Vanilla Cake, so for the ultimate vanilla cake, you can simply omit the sprinkles in the cake layers.
  • This batter makes fabulous cupcakes.
  • The frosting tastes like vanilla ice cream–you’ll see!
  • You may enjoy reading my previous post, 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes.

Good luck & enjoy!


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Bakery-Style Vanilla Cupcakes

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Happy National Vanilla Cupcake Day! I’m sorry that I’m sending you these wishes at the end of the day, but I couldn’t go without celebrating this holiday with you, but as usual, this is a late-night write. With such a holiday to celebrate, how could I possibly wake up and not bake a batch of classic pink vanilla bakery-style cupcakes? I couldn’t, so I did.

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

So we’ve got company today–a close friend (you may remember I chatted awhile back about how it was because of him my husband and I met) visiting from Grand Cayman, and I thought it would be a great time to celebrate National Vanilla Cupcake Day. I realized that as much as I make vanilla cake with vanilla frosting (of all kinds), that I don’t often make a classic bakery-style vanilla cupcake with sweet frosting and sprinkles. I know, it’s really inexcusable, considering. So this morning I woke up and made a batch of the Magnolia Bakery vanilla cupcakes. If you’re not familiar with the Magnolia Bakery, it’s a charming bakery in New York City that has been celebrated for its from-scratch baked goods, most notably the pink vanilla cupakes and the like. I first learned of the bakery while watching Sex in the City, but I’m sad to report that I’ve never actually set foot inside the bakery or tried any of their treats.

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

As you may believe, I love cupcakes, and I have made many, but I hadn’t ever baked or tried their version, so today seemed like a good time to give that a whirl. The cupcake portion of their recipe is a very classic butter cake technique and you won’t find anything too unexpected in the ingredient list, but the result is pleasingly vanilla and perfectly classic. After much blog discussion about vanilla cake, following the Fluffy White Vanilla Cake post (a post about my epic journey to discover a pure white, fluffy, cake-mix-like scratch cake), I have received dozens of emails asking me if that batter would be suitable for the ultimate cupcake. Truthfully, I find that batter amazing and ideal for fluffy cake layers, but with only egg whites, I find it doesn’t make the ideal cupcakes. That’s just for my taste, though, but I love a sweet, sturdy and “eggy” cupcake (sorry if that sounds odd, but it’s the only way I can describe that taste). This recipe calls for, among other things, 4 whole eggs, a generous amount of white sugar and a combination of self-rising and all-purpose (plain) flour, which to me is a great combination for the classic cupcake.

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

If you read my previous post about my Ruffles & Roses tea party, you may remember the Fairy Cakes. For those I used another vanilla cupcake recipe from another popular New York City bakery, Billy’s Bakery, that has a very similar ingredient list, but uses a combination of cake flour and self-rising flour. That recipe, however, uses the reverse creaming method, just as my Fluffy Vanilla Cake does, and the result is very similar to the Magnolia Bakery version. To me, they are both wonderful and consistent options for the perfect vanilla cupcake and I think the biggest difference is the “cake flour” taste–some love it, and some prefer a less distinct flavour that all-purpose flour seems to lend.

Bakery Style Vanilla Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

For the frosting, I opted to sort of combine my favourite whipped vanilla frosting with the sugary-sweet Magnolia buttercream, by increasing the icing sugar, but keeping it a bit less than what they call for. I have to admit that making these pink sprinkled vanilla cupcakes, made me happier than even I could have guessed.

If you’d like to keep up with the seemingly endless ‘National Dessert Days,” just for fun, my friends over at Best Friends for Frosting have a fabulous post including the Complete Directory List of National Dessert Days, and, trust me, I refer to it often!

Speaking of pink sprinkles, I’m not sure my life will be complete if I don’t soon order this. Why do sprinkles make us so silly happy?

Ah, yes, sprinkles. I have too much to say about them. No, really, I do, but, oh friends, it’s the middle of the night here in my world, and I think I must go to sleep! I don’t say that often, but tonight, I must. I will be back very soon to talk about all sorts of life-altering topics: flour, buttercream, frosting cakes, chocolate, pink . . . zzzz.

Off I go to dream about cakes and rainbows. Or more sleep.

Bakery-Style Vanilla Cupcakes

Yield: 24 standard cupcakes, or two 9-inch round cakes

Ingredients

    For the cupcakes:
  • 1-1/2 cups (190 g) self-rising flour
  • 1-1/4 cups (160 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (2 sticks)(227 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 g) white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (237 ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla
  • For the frosting:
  • 3 sticks (345 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 5 cups (625 g) confectioners’ sugar (icing, powdered)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions

    For the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners of your choice (24 total).
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended.
  5. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and bake in middle of oven until tops turn golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out just clean (a few crumbs is okay), about 18 minutes.
  6. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
  7. For the frosting:
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 5 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
  9. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 5 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
  10. Add touch of gel food colour, if desired and mix until blended.
  11. Best used right away.

Notes

[cupcake recipe adapted from Magnolia Bakery]

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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

1. To keep frosting smooth and creamy (and not filled with air-bubbles), work it often in the bowl with a rubber spatula, in a pressing & smearing movement to remove air bubbles.

2. To decorate these cupcakes, I used a few drops of Americolor Electric Pink Soft Gel Paste to achieve the “bakery-pink” colour. I then piped a generous swirl of frosting onto each cupcake using a plain round decorating tip inserted in a piping bag, followed by pressing the bottom flat side of a small offset spatula into the centre of the frosting swirl, working in a gentle circular motion, to create an indent and swirl onto the cupcake.

3. I try to avoid keeping cupcakes in an airtight container, as that seems to cause some of the liners to separate from the cupcakes. Cake boxes with the flaps closed seems to work well.

Good luck & enjoy!

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