from Food and Wine, June 2007
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper; butter and dust with flour.
In a bowl, mix the 3 cups of flour, baking powder and salt.
In a cup, mix the milk with the vanilla. Set aside.
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until light and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until
fluffy, 4 minutes.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl. Beat in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating
with the milk mixture and scraping down the bowl.
Scrape the batter into the pans. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 35 minutes, until springy. Let cool for 15 minutes,
then run a knife around the edges and invert onto a rack. Peel off the paper, turn the cakes upright and cool completely.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, Martha Stewart 2005
4 large egg whites (or 1/2 cup if, like me, your freezer is full of egg whites from when recipes call for just yolks)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Combine sugar and egg white in the heatproof bowl from your electric mixer and place on top of a pan of simmering water (you are
creating a double boiler).
Whisk sugar and egg white contantly until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture is warm to touch, @ 160 degrees on candy
Remove bowl from pan, place in mixer and using whisk attachment beat on high speed until whites hold still peaks.
Continue beating until mixture is fluffy and cooled, @ 6 minutes.
Stop mixer, remove whisk attachment and change to paddle attachment.
With mixer on medium-low speed add softened butter a Tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition.
(If after you've added all the butter the buttercream looks curdled or separated do not worry. Beat on high and it will come
When mixture looks fluffy, and makes a thwapping sound as it is being beaten, you can stop. Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate. If desired, tint buttercream with food coloring to your liking. (Be stingy--you don't want to end up in electric Barbie pink-land.)
Yield: 4 cups frosting, enough to frost 24 cupcakes or 8"-9" two layer cake.
Place several pieces of wax paper strips in sunburst pattern on serving platter or frosting turn-table
Place one cake layer on top of wax paper strips
Place one cup of frosting on top of cake layer and spread with a spatula (large offset is best).
Place second cake layer on top of first layer and frost top and sides with remaining frosting.
Sprinkle work surface and plastic rolling pin with powdered sugar.
Place fondant on work surface and roll out to desired thickness (1/8" is good)
Using cutters of your choice, cut fondant and lift cutouts with a small offset spatula or, if you are very careful, your fingers.
Place cut-outs wherever you like on the cake and press gently to adhere. If you like, decorate shapes with extra buttercream
using a pastry bag and a small tip.
Carefully remove wax paper strips and serve. Feel free to chill for a bit but cake is best served at room temperature.
Yield: one 9 inch layer cake (16 slices)