This week was my nieces 2 month birthday celebration which gave me a chance to up my creativity. For such a momentous milestone (yes, yes, it IS a big deal in my family) I was contemplating on what kind of cake to make; flavor, frosting, fondant... all these thoughts and ideas totally running miles in my head; so I decided to bake a simple vanilla cake. But wait, there's more! I wanted to do that cool swirly effect on the cake, you know the ones that you see on Pintrest where the cake is cut so you just see this slice of swirls and all your magical dreams are made.... YA THAT! So lets begin.
Let's start with my recipe of choice by the one and only, Yolanda Gampp. (for her actual recipe click here)
So, this is not my own recipe, we already talked about this people, I'm not a trained pro baker! What I like to do is try out recipes but I usually put my own spin on them like adding or subtracting flavors and I even adjust the sugar so it isn't as sweet.
Electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (a handheld on works great too!)
Mixing Bowls (2 is good)
Cake pans (for this recipe I used four 9"x3" round cake pans
Candy Thermometer (or any that go up to 240 F)
Squirt Bottles (like the ones that mustard comes in)
5 cups of All Purpose flour
4 cups of granulated sugar
5 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of table salt
8 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 tsp orange blossom water
8 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cup of whole milk
2 cups (4 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB):
8 egg whites (no yellow peeps)
1-3/4 cup of Granulated sugar
2 cups of unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 tsp Vanilla
Chocolate Ganache: (From Chelsweets)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli)
To make the cake:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (duh right) & line the bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper. A good way to ensure you cut the parchment to the correct size is to trace the pan on a large sheet of parchment and cut it to size from the tracing.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and whisk together. Set it aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, & orange blossom water on medium speed until the mixture looks fluffy. (they say about 8 mins but I don't have time for that)
Add the eggs two at a time beating until each addition is well mixed. You can use your spatula now to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary.
Next is really important (so pay attention!)
Adding the dry and wet ingredients:
Add the flour mixture in 4 parts, alternating with the milk in 3 parts, beating just until each addition is mixed well before adding the next, try not to over mix it. (This is Yo's little secret that I am obsessed with)
To make the colorful swirls, I was mesmerized over the fact that all you need to do is separate the batter into 3 equal parts (I used 2 bowls and the mixer bowl, so 3 bowl total)
I added 3 drops of pink gel food coloring into one and 3 drops of purple into the other one, and I left the remaining batter white.
I added a dollop of each color into my cake pans in a random order just enough so that the parchment paper on the bottom was covered. Once all my batter was in the pans I took the back of a teaspoon and ran it into my batter making swirly patterns (this was actually really fun). Try not to over mix the colors or else they will mix too much and the color will not be what you expect it to be (brown-ish).
Next tap the pans on your counter to release the air pockets, and bake.
Bake for 40 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the pan comes out clean.
*half way through the baking time rotate the pans in the oven so they bake evenly*
Once fully baked, transfer to a wire rack or set them aside to cool completely. I always store my cakes in the fridge or you can plastic wrap them and freeze them.
*if you are in a rush and are doing 400 different things, I find it easier to make the cakes ahead of time and store them in my fridge with their pans*
To make the SMB:
Here is the more difficult part, the Swiss Meringue Buttercream. For this, you will need a candy thermometer (TRUST ME, don't try to do this without it, my first batch went down the drain).
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/2 cup of water over medium heat and bring it to a boil. Clip/place your candy thermometer.
While the sugar and water heat up, put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer (stainless steel please) and fit it with your whisk attachment.
When the syrup reaches 230 degrees F on the thermometer, begin to whip the egg whites on medium/high speed. Whip until the egg whites are stiff.
Once the syrup mixture reaches 240 degrees F remove the pan from the heat and with the mixture running, pour the syrup in to the egg whites in a very thin stream pouring between the side of the bowl and the whisk ( this is so you don't pour it over the whisk and that hot mess with be flying everywhere).
Whip the meringue and high speed until thick and glossy and the bowl is no longer warm on the outside, about 8 to 12 minutes.
Now, while the mixer is running low, add the butter chunks at a time whipping until each piece is incorporated before adding more.
After all the butter has been added, continue to whip the buttercream until it's thick and smooth, 5 minutes or so. And last but not least, beat in the vanilla.
I allow my cakes to completely chill before layering and frosting them.
*Make sure your cakes have cooled in the fridge before frosting or layering your cakes!
For this step, I like to use an offset spatula to layer the cake and to cover the cake I use a bench scraper to even out and smooth the sides and the top.
*If you are doing a fully covered cake, not like my partially naked one, crumb, coat, and chill your cake first then do the second layer of SMB.
To make the ganache drip:
Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until it simmers (if you have a microwave- I do not- you can do this in a heat proof bowl for 45 sec - 1 min)
Gently pour chocolate chips into the heavy cream, making sure they are fully covered with cream.
Allow mixture to sit for 2 minutes.
Stir slowly until the cream and chocolate are combined, then heat again for 20 seconds and stir. Repeat as necessary until all the chocolate bits are fully melted and incorporated.
If it seems too thin or thick, you can add a touch more of chocolate chips or heavy cream! The type of cream and chocolate that you use can affect the consistency, so feel free to adjust as needed. I like to put my ganache into plastic squirt bottles when decorating cakes, but you can also use a spoon to drizzle it over cakes.
*Chill the cake in the fridge until it is firm to the touch (10 mins )
Drip the cake going in and circle motion starting with the sides first then sprinkle until your heart is happy!
If you like the sprinkle row I did- [I actually did this before the drip and put sprinkles in the palm of my hand and gently pressed it into the cake]