My favorite part of baking is getting to taste test along the way (I’ve burnt my tongue one too many times trying to eat a 300F cookie). That instant gratification and absolute fresh out of the oven experience has completely spoiled me when it comes to baked goods. It has also made it very difficult to bake a cake. You can’t enjoy it fresh out of the oven because it has to cool before icing and you’re often making this in advance of a party or celebration.
So muster up all of the self-control you can before baking this cake. When you take a bite of this you’ll agree, this cake is worth the wait! You will want to make these cakes just so you can fill you house with the delicious cake batter aroma. And just wait until you start making the chocolate frosting. You’ll be pillaging through your pantry looking for anything you can to put this frosting on. Or better yet, grabbing a spoon and digging in.
Traditionally, this is the cake that we would have for our birthday’s growing up. I’ve continued the tradition and baked this for my husband’s birthday this year. I’ve previously posted about trying tiramisu for the first time for his birthday. They both were hits but it’s hard to compete with the family memories of this homemade birthday cake.
I know I always bring up this book, but it’s my kitchen bible. I consult it for just about everything. If you don’t already have The America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Become a Great Cook, you’re missing out. I’ve used this book for everything, from how to cut a shallot, to what substitute I can use for eggs, and countless recipes, from dinner to dessert. I’ve tried many vanilla cakes and the one in the book is by far the best! Buttery and light, with the perfect cake texture.
To start, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, 1 1/2 cups sugar.
Then, whisk buttermilk, melted butter, oil, vanilla, and egg yolks . Egg whites will be used in the next step!
Add egg whites and a pinch of cream of tarter and beat for about 1 minute before adding the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.
Remove egg white mixture from mixing bowl, and add flour mixture from the first step to the now empty bowl. Gradually pour in butter mixture.
Now, add the reserved egg whites to the mixing bowl and gently fold in.
Divide evenly into 2 pans. Gently tap pans to release air bubbles.
Bake for 20-22 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes before removing cake from pans.
Once cakes are removed, let cool completely, about 2 hours.
While the cakes cool, you can whip up the frosting!
At this point, I realized why “naked” cakes became a thing. It’s so much easier. And it looks so good! You won’t be too tempted though, because you’ll want this icing on every inch of this cake 🙂
To help not make a mess, cut 4 strips of parchment and arrange in a square around/under the cake. When done icing, the parchment can cleanly be removed and you cake stand remains unharmed.
Fun fact- Anchor Hocking Presence Cake Plate w/Dome, 2 Piece Stand & Domethis cake stand actually can be converted into a punch bowl! The cake base rests on the counter and the domed lid gets inverted into the stand and voila! It probably doesn’t sound like it works, but we’ve tested it out and it does!! You just need to figure out where to put your cake when you’re serving the punch 😉
Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Frosting (printable version here!)
- 2½ cups cake flour
- 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs, separated, plus 3 large yolks, room temperature
- Pinch cream of tartar
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pans.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1½ cups sugar together in large bowl. In medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and egg yolks.
- Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip whites to soft billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually add remaining ¼ cup sugar and whip until glossy, stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl and set aside.
- Add flour mixture to now-empty bowl. With mixer on low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and whip until (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl, then whip on medium-low speed until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.
- Using rubber spatula, stir one-third of whites into batter, then add remaining two-thirds whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smooth tops with rubber spatula, and gently tap pans on counter to release air bubbles.
- Bake cakes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, and let cool completely, about 2 hours, before frosting. (Cooled cakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 1 day. Wrapped tightly in plastic, then aluminum foil, cakes can be frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost cakes at room temperature before unwrapping and frosting.)
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
- 2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
- Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.