The title says it all, readers. I’m getting married! You might have guessed this during my Thanksgiving posts when I called my former “boyfriend” my “fiancé.” It was a wonderful surprise, and I’m so excited to be spending the rest of my life with my best friend.
I am usually not into the “girly stuff.” I don’t like to go shopping, I’m not a fan of the spa, and I’d rather be playing volleyball than tanning on the beach.
However, when it comes to weddings, this rule doesn’t apply.
I am a sucker for romance. When the groom gets his first look at his future wife, my heart melts.
You know what I’ve always dreamed of creating for my own wedding?
My own wedding cake.
Unfortunately, I was told by my caterer that the cake has to come from a bakery. My fabulous recipes might seem like they come from a bakery, but they’re developed in my simple kitchen. Sadly, the idea of making my own wedding cake is out of the running. I’m hoping to still be able to design the cake myself.
In the meantime, I’ll resort to making a cake for my bridal shower.
I’ve been researching, “how to make a wedding cake,” online for a few weeks. Apparently you need months upon months of preparation in order to produce the perfect bite. The first step, it seems, is to find a flavor of cake that you like. Easy enough.
I love chocolate, but I don’t like chocolate cake.
I can hear your gasps from miles away.
A lot of chocolate cake recipes call for instant coffee or espresso, because the bitterness of the coffee is supposed to match the taste of the chocolate. It seems that my taste buds don’t agree with this notion. I like flourless chocolate cake, because it leaves chocolate in its most natural form. You can’t bake a tiered cake with that recipe, though.
Instead, let’s try a classic yellow cake.
I’ve never made a yellow cake before, but I’ve tasted it many times. The cake is famous for its flaky, buttery layers. It’s made by mixing butter, sugar, and eggs with alternating combinations of dry and liquid ingredients.
One of my bridesmaids gave me a book for my birthday last year called, “Cook’s Illustrated: The Science of Good Cooking.” It’s become my go-to guide for picking out my cake’s ingredients. Not only do they explain why each portion of the recipe works, but they also pilot the recipe using consumer testing samples.
The book is divided into different concepts. Concept #45 states that tender cakes are due to lower protein contents.
When you think of cake, you don’t necessarily think of it as a protein-rich food. The protein they’re referring to is gluten.
I’ve talked about gluten countless times. It’s the main protein found in wheat. It is responsible for a baked good’s ability to be rolled, kneaded, and stretched. You can read more about gluten in my “pizza post.”
There are countless types of flours, but scientists created them for different reasons. I developed a chart that showed the amount of gluten in each type of flour for my “not-so-sloppy joe post.” Here it is again:
As you can see, cake flour has the lowest amount of protein. Therefore, it should produce the most tender crumb, and a light, fluffy cake.
Let’s put this theory to the test!
For the cake: 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)*, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 4 large eggs and 2 egg yolks (room temperature), 2 cups cake flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup buttermilk** (room temperature), 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*Room temperature, quickest explanation- it allows for greater incorporation of the ingredients into the batter.
** If you don’t have buttermilk, you can mix 1 Tbsp of white vinegar in 1 cup of milk. Let it sit for five minutes. Try to use milk that contains fat.
For the buttercream: 3 cups confectioners sugar, 1/3 cup butter (softened), 1/4 tsp vanilla bean, 2 tbsp heavy cream, 1 Tbsp milk
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Leave the butter and eggs on the counter for about half an hour. They should reach room temperature after this amount of time. Make the buttermilk if you don’t have any at home.
Cream together the butter and sugar until they become fluffy. This will take a few minutes. Use a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer if you can.
Crack one egg into a separate, small bowl. Beat the egg with a fork. Add it to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix the egg into the batter until it’s just incorporated. Repeat this process until all the eggs/egg yolks have been added to the batter.
You can save the egg whites for breakfast tomorrow.
Measure the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Place them in a separate bowl.
Add 1/4 of the total amount of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl. Blend them into the batter. Then add 1/4 cup of buttermilk. Mix well. Alternate between the dry ingredients and the buttermilk until everything is fully incorporated. Run a spatula along the bowl to make sure that the dry ingredients aren’t stuck to its sides.
Stir in the vanilla extract and vegetable oil using the spatula.
Grease two 8 x 8 inch or 9 x 9 inch round baking pans with butter. Make sure the butter is spread onto every corner of the pan. You should probably use parchment paper for extra “non-stick” protection, but I didn’t feel like doing that at the time.
Place the cakes in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick can cleanly be removed from the center.
Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Then remove the cakes from the pans and transfer them to a cooling rack.
While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting!
In a large bowl, cream the butter and confectioners sugar. Add the sugar 1 cup at a time, and whisk with an electric hand mixer. Mix the heavy cream and milk into the icing. Stir in the vanilla bean.
Begin icing the cakes once they have completely cooled.
Put one of the cakes from the cooling rack onto a large plate. Spread icing on top of this layer.
Then place the second cake on top of the icing.
Use the remaining frosting to cover the cake.
This cake didn’t rise the way I thought it would. I think I left the butter and eggs at room temperature for too long (double the amount of time than I suggested above). The batter wasn’t able to hold enough air bubbles. No air bubbles equals a flat, dense cake.
I also used two different types of pans. The cake from one pan was more evenly cooked and colored than that of the other pan.
However, I must say that the flavor is quite delicious.
This cake will not make it to the party, though. The price of eggs has increased, and I can’t practice making this recipe if I constantly need to buy half a dozen eggs. I will probably skip this recipe as an event cake, but I will definitely keep it on file for other special occasions.
All that’s left to do is slice it up, and enjoy!
*The recipe for the cake batter was adapted from the book, “Cook’s Illustrated: The Science of Good Cooking.” (2012).