I just heard from a mom whose son will be turning 1 next week. Hooray — such a big day! She said she’s looking for a good cake and was wondering if I’d share my recipe for white cake with buttercream that I mentioned in an earlier post.
When I looked it up just now, I paused to read my notes in the margin. (I always write down the date when I make a recipe, and any changes I’d make next time.) In the margin, I read that I made this cake for my own 30th birthday, my oldest daughter’s 8th birthday, my son’s 4th birthday, and my youngest daughter’s 1st birthday. Definitely a family favorite. So to the mother who wrote in, I wish your son a happy day and an even happier year! Maybe it will become a favorite in your family, too.
P.S. I frequently cut back on sugar when I’m making quick breads, but it’s not a good idea to do that here. The sugar is necessary to tenderize the cake.
1 3/4 cups cake flour (you can also use white flour, but it won’t be as tender)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
10 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cold water
Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans. I like to cut aluminum foil to fit inside the pan. Then I put it in the pan, shiny side up, and grease and flour the foil and sides like normal. It takes a little more time, but you’ll thank yourself when it’s time to remove the cakes from the pans.
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined. In a large bowl, cream the butter for 2-3 minutes (believe me — this is what makes the air bubbles in the cake). Gradually add the sugar and beat another 2-3 minutes. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the vanilla extract with the cold water and add half of it to the butter-sugar mixture. Beat well. Then add half the flour mixture and beat well. Repeat, adding in the remaining water and vanilla and beating well, then finishing with the remaining flour. Pour into pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through the cooking time. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool on a cooling rack. Don’t frost until completely cool.
2/3 cup butter, softened but not melted
1/8 tsp salt
4 cups powdered sugar
4-8 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract, or more
1/2 tsp almond extract, or more (optional)
Food coloring, if desired
Cream the butter and salt together, then slowly add in the powdered sugar. Add 4 tablespoons whipping cream, and vanilla and almond extracts. Beat on high, adding more cream until you reach the desired consistency. Keep beating on high for 3-4 minutes, far longer than you might think is necessary. The longer you whip, the lighter and fluffier your frosting will be. Taste, and add more vanilla and/or almond extract to suit your taste. We like plenty of almond extract because it cuts the sweetness (though of course the frosting is still very sweet!)
* Note that you can also make the above cake recipe as cupcakes. If you do, you can pipe on the frosting in swirls with a large tip. Inexpensive Wilton decorating bags and plastic tips can usually be found at Hobby Lobby and Michael’s. Cupcakes are great for kids’ birthdays because you can divide up the frosting and tint it different colors. Multi-colored sprinkles and add-ons like gummy bears are also a big hit with kids, though I wouldn’t put anything but sprinkles on a young child’s cake.