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Pink Vanilla Bean Birthday Cake
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Pink Vanilla Bean Birthday Cake

For years I’ve been dreaming about finding a dense yellow cake recipe that could hold up to being stacked in layers as well as a thick layer of velvety frosting.  So many recipes I came across just didn’t fit the bill; either they were too fluffy negating the ability to even hold up to being frosted or they were flavorless and blah.

Pink Vanilla Bean Birthday Cake

So when I saw this cake posted way back in June, I filed it away in the back of my mind as a possibility for this year’s birthday cake.  The thing is, I couldn’t shake this cake.  Every time I thought about my upcoming birthday this whole summer, visions of this cake floated into the forefront of my mind.  Pink.  Sprinkles.  Vanilla beans.  It was practically the most basic cake that I wanted so desperately – nothing fancy, no swirls or drizzles or compounding flavors.  And I insisted on waiting until my birthday to make it.

Pink Vanilla Bean Birthday Cake

Believe me, there were many times where I almost threw in the towel…where this cake almost got made.  But I held strong and waited until last week.  And honestly?  I’m so glad I waited.  I made this cake, step-by-step, and feeling like it was a hot and stuffy August night in 1986 again, I had all the anticipation and excitement of the 8 year old me waiting for my candle-lit birthday cake to be brought in through the darkened room with drones of the [maybe not-so-purposefully] out of tune birthday song in the background.  Seriously, I was dancing with excitement to show Kyle this cake when he got home from work and had he OK’d eating cake before dinner (thank God for being an adult!), I think I may have burst.

Pink Vanilla Bean Birthday Cake

And it was everything I wished for.  Dense, moist, tangy from the buttermilk, speckled with vanilla beans, with a smooth buttercream frosting that lent just the right amount of sweetness to the cake layers.  It was most definitely the prettiest cake I had ever made and I couldn’t be happier with how the towering three layers and frosting held up to being cut into such perfect slices.  Needless to say, I’ve found the yellow cake recipe I’ve been searching for all these years and I can see many birthdays in the future (mine and/or others) being brightened with this vanilla bean cake.

Pink Vanilla Bean Birthday Cake

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 12-15 servings

Ingredients

    For the Vanilla Bean Cake:
  • 3 sticks (1 ½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature (on counter apprx 20 minutes)
  • 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 9 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the buttercream frosting:
  • 3 ½ sticks (1 ½ cups) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
  • 3 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Ateco or Wilton color gel for dying

Instructions

  1. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter three 8" x 2" round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, butter the rounds, and dust the pans and rounds 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 bean seeds 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.
  5. Let pans cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.
  6. To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute.
  7. Add the confectioners’ sugar to the bowl and mix on medium-low speed just until incorporated. Add in the salt. Continue to beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract and heavy cream on low speed just until incorporated. Increase the mixer speed and whip on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 4 minutes. Stir in the color gel to achieve your desired color.
  8. Frost and decorate the cake as desired.

Source

sources: cake adapted from Sweetapolita | frosting adapted from Sweetapolita via Annie’s Eats

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Peach Filled Cake with Dulce de Leche Buttercream Recipe
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It seems that I’m not at a loss for peach recipes this summer and since this week’s Project Pastry Queen recipe also involves peaches, I certainly couldn’t pass it up.  It’s a fortuitous 3 layer cake with fresh summer peaches baked into the layers and diced up peaches stuffed between them.  And what may be the best part about the whole cake?  I made my own dulce de leche for the frosting!

Overall, the cake was delightful…one that I could see being made again to celebrate each new peach season.  The peaches were able to stand on their own even after being baked into the cake and the peach filling, mixed with some apricot preserves, drips down the cake after each slice, making for a sweet hit of fresh flavor with each bite.  I don’t think this cake would have been complete without a super-sweet frosting…and the addition of a full cup of dulce de leche to the frosting took this cake from great to oh.my.gah.  On its own, the buttercream seemed as if it would completely overpower the delicate cake but once I slathered it on, the cake, filling, and frosting were definitely M.F.E.O. (10 points for the movie reference!).  A perfect summer cake with ripe summer peaches…life is good.

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Peach Filled Cake with Dulce de Leche Buttercream Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

This recipe includes a quick and basic buttercream frosting where the dulce de leche can be swapped out for almost anything: lemon curd, fresh lemon zest, a couple tablespoons of cocoa, chopped strawberries, some peanut butter…you get the idea.

Ingredients

    For the peach cake:
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp table salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream (light is fine)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup peeled and chopped fresh peaches
  • For the dulce de leche buttercream frosting:
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of table salt
  • 1 cup dulce de leche
  • For the filling:
  • 1 cup peach preserves or jam (either store-bought or homemade)

Instructions

  1. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla until incorporated. On low speed, stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients and beat until just incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, fold the peaches gently into the batter.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth out the tops with an offset spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the cakes are light brown on top and firm to the touch. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes then invert the cakes on the racks and cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  5. To make the buttercream frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for 2 minutes, until fluffy.
  6. Add in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go, about 1 to 1 ½ minutes.
  7. Spoon in the dulce de leche and beat for an additional 2 minutes, until the buttercream is light and fluffy.
  8. To assemble the cake: Place one of the cake layers on a cake plate. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the top of the cake. Using an offset spatula, spread the preserves or jam over the frosting. Place the second layer on top of the preserves. Frost the cake with the remaining frosting. The cake will keep covered at room temperature for 2 to 3 days if your kitchen temperature allows; if it is too hot, the frosting won't keep well so the cake can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator.

Source

source: adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather via Confections of a Foodie Bride

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Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
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Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

For the past three weeks I’ve been craving a yellow butter cake with vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream frosting.  This post obviously isn’t about that cake.  It’s about these Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Frosting that I nearly had to wipe the drool off of my keyboard from when I came across the recipe.  A chewy, dense, bright red (and in my opinion, all red velvet should be) brownie topped with a fluffy white chocolate buttercream frosting that actually tastes like the white chocolate I fell in love with as a child.  These are the type of brownies that will make your old Aunt Rhonda kick herself for not thinking to bring to the church picnic before her old rival, Harriett, did just that.  They’ll make people swoon and clamor over each other for seconds.  You’ll watch these babies disappear and will beam with delight.

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I’ve only made one other red velvet recipe in my lifetime and I had forgotten about the destructive power of red food coloring so be prepared to go slowly when it comes time to add it in.  Fortunately, the recipe seems to compress the mess because you’ll stir together the cocoa powder, food coloring, and some vanilla into a paste that you’ll add to the batter rather than pouring all of the food coloring into a whirling mixer.  That’s a disaster waiting to happen.  The white chocolate frosting is insanely sweet and I almost thought it was too sweet but by the next day, the white chocolate flavor seemed to blossom and the sweetness had diminished just a tad.  Because of this, I highly recommend making the frosting a day or two in advance and sticking it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake the brownies; it will need to come to room temperature and will likely need a good stir before you’ll be able to frost.  Whatever you do though, don’t wait another millisecond to make these.   You’ll be kicking yourself when they show up at your next party and someone else will be doing all the beaming.

[9.2.11 Update] Note: I’ve edited the bake time of the recipe below to better reflect the comments people have left about the brownies being undercooked at 30 minutes.  All ovens vary so use your best judgement and the toothpick test to ensure doneness.

Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 65 minutes

Yield: 12 brownies

Ingredients

    For the brownies:
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 oz red food coloring (or a scant 2 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • For the white chocolate buttercream frosting:
  • 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 oz good-quality white chocolate (not chips), melted - I recommend Callebaut
  • 1 - 2 tbsp heavy cream

Instructions

  1. To make the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8"x8" baking pan.
  2. In a small bowl, slowly stir together the cocoa powder, food coloring, and 1 tsp vanilla into a thick paste until no lumps of cocoa remain. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then stir in the remaining 1 tsp of vanilla. With the mixer off, add in the cocoa mixture, then turn the mixer to medium and beat the two mixtures together until they are one uniform color. Slowly add in the flour and salt and mix on medium-low speed, just until combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir up the batter with a rubber spatula once or twice just to ensure all of the flour has incorporated from the sides of the bowl and there isn't anything stuck on the bottom of the bowl. You'll want one uniformly colored (red) batter.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the brownies. Allow brownies to completely cool in the pan on a baking rack, about 45-60 minutes. Frost brownies in the pan, cut into 12 bars, and serve, or remove the entire batch from the pan to a cutting board, cut into 12 bars, frost, and serve.
  6. To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until soft and fluffy then beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time; allow the sugar to mix in before adding the next 1/2 cup. Once all of the sugar has been added, beat on medium speed for 30 seconds and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the melted white chocolate and beat on medium speed until incorporated. With the mixer on low, add in heavy cream 1 tbsp at a time and beat at medium speed until the frosting has reached your desired consistency.

Source

source: adapted from How Sweet It Is

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