Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Classic Vanilla-Vanilla Cake

Hmm…well where do I start. I guess I start back at the end of January when baking went a little off to the side, not on the back burner, but let’s just say all my burners started being used. At the end of January, I started to really try and cook dinner for my husband and I every week night.  (Cue the tiny violin.)  We did it in an effort to try and save a little money, and let’s be real, just eat a little healthier.  That is not to say it isn’t fun; it’s really just that it takes some time. I have gotten about 95% better about meal planning since starting in January.  By that I mean, I literally write out a list of everything I need for the week, and try to get it all in one trip, generally right after Sunday spin class. (For a while there it got a little creepy when my phone knew my plans, and would let me know how long it would take me to get to Kroger.)

I do try to change things up week to week, so we both don’t get tired of eating the same things over and over again.  That being said, I most definitely still have the nights, where it has been one of those days, and I just don’t want to cook.  But cooking dinner takes time, especially when I don’t get home from spin class until about 7:35 p.m., and then need to shower and cook. (Cue tiny violin again) This just doesn’t leave a whole lot of baking time. (I have kind of transitioned from baking “therapy” to spin “therapy”.)  

However, over the past 8 months I have gotten to make some really fun cakes.  

There was a Washington Wizards Jersey cake…

 There was a baseball…

 A Wu-Tang Clan cake…

A fake cake for my dad’s birthday that was meant to look like one of his old soda signs.

And even a baby shower cake...the first cake shown.

They have been super fun to make, and even a little stressful at times, but I still danced around the kitchen while making them all.  The last cake (first cake pictured) was back to the basics with the bottom cake being Vanilla - Vanilla and the top being Devil’s Food cake with Vanilla buttercream.  I used my go to Joy the Baker recipes, from my most well-loved cookbook.  Let’s just say the pages are officially getting stuck together now, and there are lots of notes in the margins, for when I need to make larger or smaller sized cakes than the recipe calls for.  This simple vanilla cake is in my opinion the best, and I have used it with lots of different fillings and frostings.  So, if you need a simple and delicious Vanilla – Vanilla cake, give this one a try and Enjoy!

A Classic Vanilla-Vanilla Cake: (recipe from Joy the Baker's "Homemade Decadence")
4 cups cake flour (all purpose flour will also work)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 stick (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk

1.  Put oven racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour three 9-inch round baking pans. (I grease and line with parchment paper.)

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition.  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Reduce the mixer speed to low, and half of the flour mixture and beat well (just until incorporated).  Add the buttermilk in a slow stream and beat well.  Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just combined.  Finish stirring with a spatula.  Divide the batter among the 3 prepared cake pans.

4.  Bake until golden brown on top and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool in the pans for 20 minutes before inverting onto the wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

5.  If you're not using right away, double-wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap, and freeze for up to 7 days.  When ready to frost remove from the freezer, unwrap, and frost frozen.

Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting: (recipe from Joy the Baker's "Homemade Decadence")
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 to 6 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
About 1/4 cup heavy cream

1.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft, about 1 minute.  

2.  Add 2 cups of the confectioners' sugar, the salt, and vanilla.  Beat on low speed until the sugar is well incorporated.  Add another 2 cups sugar and the cream.  Add remaining 2 cups sugar as needed to thicken the frosting.  Beat on medium speed until the frosting is smooth and fluffy about 4 minutes.

3.  Once the cakes are cool, cut off the top rounded part of the cakes, so that each layer is flat.  Then frost the cake, serve and Enjoy!

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