You guys! Let’s make a cake!
I’ve been thinking about cakes for weeks now, ever since my mom sent me two coveted 6″ cake pans that I’ve been searching for for months! (It’s that darn Miette book–the recipes are made for 6″ pans and no larger.) I even got a guilt trip when I made lemon loafs last week instead of 6-inchers… so here you go, Mom. A cake! At last! A pretty little 6″ cake.
Except… it’s not for you. (Sorry, Mom. If you were closer, I sure would love to make you a cake.) It’s for a friend who’s leaving Milwaukee for a little while. I’m not sure what kinds of cake flavors she likes, but I hope she likes lemons and raspberries, because that’s what this cake is: a fluffy white vanilla bean cake filled with raspberry preserves and covered with a bright sweet lemon frosting.
Are you dying to get a closer look at the inside of the cake? Me too, but we can’t do it. Nope. It has to wait for the party.
But happy day: This cake makes extra batter for cupcakes! Hurray! They are perfect for snacking on while you wait for the big cake to cool and chill.
This cake is light and fluffy and very softly flavored. It’s not too sweet, it’s very simple, and it takes on just enough of the flavor that you pair it with.
The frosting is tart and bright and sweet and if you are anything like me you will eat 5 spoonfuls of it over the course of your decorating and finish your evening on a sugar high.
And of course we all know how well raspberry goes with lemons, don’t we? Look! Cupcake guts! (I’ve been wanting to type that all day.)
In short, this cake and these cupcakes mean that all week I have had that “if I knew you were coming I’d’ve baked a cake” song stuck in my head. This makes no sense in terms of the circumstances of this particular cake (no one is coming to my house for the party, they are all expecting me at the party, and I actually did plan in advance to bake a cake). But it’s catchy. So let’s go with it. Go make yourself a cake already!
Vanilla Bean Cake
(Note: Original recipe makes enough for three 8″ layers)
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking‘s Whiteout Cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups ice-cold water
3 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour two 6″ cake pans and put them on a cookie sheet (just to make it easier to handle in the oven); set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy (3-4 minutes). Add sugar and vanilla bean and beat on medium until fluffy (3 minutes). Scrape down the bowl and add the egg; beat until just combined. Now mixing on low, add the flour and water in three separate additions, starting and ending with the flour. Set aside.
In a separate electric mixer bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gently fold into the batter.
Fill the prepared cake pans about halfway full and smooth the tops, tapping the pan on the bottom to make sure it’s evenly spread. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean. Allow to cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then run a paring knife around the sides and invert. Allow to cool completely before assembly.
With the extra batter, make cupcakes! You should make have enough for about 8.
About 10 oz raspberry preserves (I used Bonne Maman)
Smush spoonfuls of the preserves through a sieve into a new bowl–the idea here is to get out all the seeds. If you can find seedless preserves, by all means, use those and skip this step!
Adapted from Sweetapolita
1 cup (16 tablespoons/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
Zest from one large lemon
5 cups confectioner’s sugar
About 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (that is, as much as you can get out of your one lemon)
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1-2 drops yellow gel food coloring
Cream butter and lemon zest in the bowl of your electric mixer until thoroughly combined and fragrant. Add confectioner’s sugar by the cup until well combined and somewhat fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and beat on medium-high until fluffy. It may look curdled at first, but it will turn out fine. After fluffy, scrape down the bowl and add food coloring and beat until just thoroughly distributed.
Assembly (of both cakes and cupcakes)
Slice the tops off of the two cake layers and set aside for snacks as you work.
Plop a dollop of frosting onto your plate (or cake stand if you’re fancier than me). Put strips of parchment paper around so you can be a little messy about frosting the cake and not worry about mopping it up later.
Put one cake later on the dollop. Pipe a frosting “dam” around the edge of the layer, then fill with most of the raspberry preserves, reserving some for the cupcakes. Gently put the second layer on top, brown side (bottom) up. Frost a thin crumb coat around the whole thing on top and bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
As your cake chills, get at those cupcakes! Use a paring knife to cut a square hole in each one. Spoon raspberry filling into each. Then frost in whatever way your heart desires.
By now your cake should be chilled. Frost the rest and voila! Keeps for about a week in the fridge, cupcakes too.