My boy turns 16 today, and I say , “Yikes! How’d that happen?” Every Thanksgiving weekend is Conor’s birthday weekend. This year, as part of the Thanksgiving/Birthday celebration I planned on baking him a cake – a very vanilla cake. But you see, Conor doesn’t like cake. Yes, I can’t believe it either. All these years, I would have a cake for him because what kind of mom would I be if I didn’t have a beautiful birthday cake for my son? But, alas, every single year, I would finish off his slice as well as my own. And alas, unlike Conor, I do love birthday cake.
So for his 16th cake, I thought I would try something different. I know how much he absolutely loves vanilla ice cream with gummies – so why not whip up a vanilla cake decorated with gummy bears? I found a good recipe from a fellow blogger for an all very vanilla buttercream cake – and with my added bonus of a ring of Haribo Gummy bears circling the base – it did the trick!
Fluffy Vanilla Cake with Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting (adapted from Rosie at Sweetapolita blog site)
For the Vanilla Cake:
5 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 -1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1-3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes
For the Whipped Vanilla Bean Frosting:
3 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (*Note: you can eliminate the vanilla bean and use a total of 1-1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract)
Pinch of salt
For the Vanilla Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease, line with parchment, and flour two round 8-inch pans. In a medium bowl, combine and stir egg whites, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine dry ingredients together on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining milk, and mix on low speed until just moistened. Increase to medium speed and mix for 1-1/2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches; beating on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Divide the batter in two, spreading it evenly with a small offset knife. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh to ensure two even layers.
Bake 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted in the center. Be careful not to over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes – but not before – and once you feel it’s almost ready, set the timer for 2 minute intervals. Let cool on rack for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto a greased wire rack. Gently turn cakes back up and cool completely. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 2 days, refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Best eaten the same day baked.
For the Whipped Cream Frosting:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become very pale and creamy. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy. Best used right away.
To Assemble the Cake:
Place bottom cake layer on cake plate or 8-inch round thin cake board, and spread 1 cup of frosting on top with a small offset spatula. Gently place the second cake layer face down on top. Place a generous scoop of frosting on top, and spreading evenly with a small offset spatula, work your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake. Chill for about 30 minutes until set. Remove from refrigerator and apply final “coat” of frosting. Store in a cake keeper at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in refrigerator for up to 5 days. Best eaten same day.
The next time I make this cake, I will double the Whipped Cream Frosting ingredients. I found that I could have used a bit more icing to give a smoother appearance to the finished cake.
I bought 2 bags of Haribo Gummy Bears, and alternating the colors, placed each one – touching and side by side – slightly pushing into the icing. It was just the right amount of decoration. I used dark chocolate to pipe the birthday message on a larger scale so to literally fill the top of the cake and kept the piping loose enough to give it an “artsy” kind of feel.
Happy Birthday Conor!