Vanilla Bean Cake Layers
Yield: three 8-inch round layers
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks, 341 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature (on counter apprx 20 minutes)
2 2/3 cups (540 g) granulated sugar
9 (275 g) egg whites, at room temperature
4 1/2 cups (630 g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (22 g) baking powder
1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
2 cups (500 mL) buttermilk
1 tablespoon (15 mL) Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste - 4 oz, OR 1 vanilla bean, split & scraped
1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter three 8" x 2" round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, 3 to 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the egg whites gradually, mixing until fully incorporated.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Mix vanilla extract and vanilla paste (or contents of vanilla bean) into buttermilk. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated or finish by hand gently.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan on a digital kitchen scale to ensure even layers. Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake for about 30 minutes, rotating once after 20 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes clean.
Adapted from Fine Cooking
Yield: ~7.5 cups, enough to fill, crumb coat, and frost a 3-layer 8-inch round cake
5 large (150 g) egg whites
1-1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (213 g) light corn syrup
1 lb (454 g, 2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
1. Wipe a mixer bowl with dampened with some lemon juice to remove any traces of grease.
2. Place the egg whites in the mixer bowl and, in the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk on medium-high speed until foamy.
3. Gradually add 6 tablespoons (72 g) of the sugar and beat on high speed to medium peaks (the whites should be smooth, full, and shiny, and the peaks should curl a little).
4. Combine the remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring briefly to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook just until the mixture comes to a rolling boil; there should be bubbles covering the entire surface, and no pockets of sugar undissolved on the surface.
5. Promptly remove the syrup from the heat and, with the mixer set on medium-high speed, slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl in a steady stream between the bowl and whisk, being very careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk (otherwise you end up with sticky hot syrup splatters stuck to the sides of the bowl).
6. Set the mixer to medium speed and whisk until the bottom of the mixer bowl feels neutral to the touch. Add the butter in, 1 tablespoon at a time (doesn't have to be precise, just in small chunks), until it has all been incorporated.
7. Add vanilla extract, pinch of salt, and a few drops of any food colouring gel you want to use, and beat until thickened and smooth.
1. Place bottom layer face up on a cake stand, plate, or thin cake board (on a rotating cake stand, if possible. I use ). Spread and smooth ~ 1 cup frosting using a small palette knife (I use Ateco Palette Knife - Offset - SS/Wood - 8").
2. Repeat step 1 using second cake layer.
3. Gently place third cake layer, face down, on top.
4. Spread a thin layer, also known as a crumb coat, all over cake using an the offset palette knife for the top and straight palette knife for the sides (I use Ateco Ultra Palette Knife - Straight - SS/Polypropylene - 10"). Then, using a bench scraper, gently scrape off excess frosting from the cake, for a smooth finish. This works best while slowly spinning your rotating cake stand with one hand and holding the bench scraper with the other (I use this one: Fat Daddios Bench Scraper - Stainless steel). Refrigerate your cake at this point, for between 30-60 minutes (can be more).
5. Use remaining frosting to decorate your cake. If you want a smooth finish, you can repeat step 4, but with a thicker layer of frosting.
6. Add sprinkles or any other decorations that make you happy!
You may enjoy this previous post, 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes.