Sunday, August 12, 2012

Color Craze

I have a feeling this post is going to be one of my all-time favorites. Maybe it's the bright colors in the cake or the sweetness of the frosting; maybe it's the fact that I finally baked a tall layer cake; or maybe it's that I got compliments from a lot of friends.

I don't know the exact reason, but yes, this is post will be in my top 10--that is whenever I start that page.

Anyways, I baked a five-layer color cake for my sisters goodbye party. She is off to college in NYC next week, so I thought it adequate to make her a treat. At the same time I got to try out a recipe that's been on my mind for months.

Before I get to the details, let me tell you this is a complicated cake. It takes quite a while (including prepping, baking, cooling, building and icing), but the end result is worth it. Not only did I get great satisfaction in realizing that I can bake such cake, I also loved the compliments--in this post there is no space for modesty, whoever bakes this cake deserves the recognition. Many friends and tasters approved of both the appearance and taste. And with each comment my excitement grew; the hard work and long hours in the kitchen paid off.

Colorful Layer Cake (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Active time: 3 hours. Total time: 6 hours/overnight
Makes one 8-inch cake

  • 3 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature + more for pans
  • 6 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour + more for pans
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 10 large egg whites
  • Gel food coloring
  • Creamy Vanilla Frosting (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter five 8-inch round cake pans (I used 3 and baked in two batches). Line pans with parchment paper and butter again; dust with flour and tap out excess. 
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine milk and vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer beat butter with one medium speed until very smooth, about 5 minutes. With machine running, gradually add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy, 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with milk mixture (beginning and ending with dry ingredients). Beat until just combined; don't overmix.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until stiff, but not dry, peaks form, about 4 minutes. Gently fold egg whites into batter in 3 additions.
  5. Divide batter among 5 bowls and tint each with food coloring; mix well until desired color is achieved. Spread each colored batter into prepared pans and bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes completely in pans and on wire racks.
  6. Invert cakes onto pans and let cool for about 1 hour, or overnight. Trim the top of each cake to even the surface. Spread about 1 cup buttercream onto the top of 1 cake; top with another cake. Repeat the process, spreading buttercream between each layer. Frost cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Refrigerate for 10 minutes and frost with remaining frosting.
*Cakes can be made ahead and stored unfrosted for up to 2 days at room temperature.

Creamy Vanilla Frosting (adapted from Epicurious)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 4 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. In medium saucepan, whisk flour into milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes thick and begins to bubble, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and cover with waxed paper; cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter on medium high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and beat well. 
  3. Continue to beat on medium high speed as you add the cooled milk mixture. Beat for 5 more minutes until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes exactly. Use immediately.

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