Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Incredible Vanilla Cake with Swiss Buttercream

It was with a heart brimming with love that I accepted the thoughtful request to make a cake for one of my favorite couples! This was to be no ordinary cake - this cake would serve as the announcement for the gender of their bundle of joy. What an extraordinary mission for any baker and friend!

Truth be told - I wasn't 100% clear on the concept - only that I would know the gender before everyone else. Gender reveal cakes typically involve coloring the cake pink or blue so that when the first slice is cut, the entire party learns at the same time the baby's gender.  It took some undisclosed confusion on my part to realize that not even the parents would know the contents of their latest sonogram. It was coming straight from the doctors office to my house! That's when the gravity of the task at hand dawned on me. 

So let's break it down.

First thing first. The family wanted a vanilla cake which means you need a rock star vanilla extract. Enter the Rodelle Reserve Pure Vanilla  Extract Madagascar Bourbon. It is a total show stopper and makes all the difference when walking that thin line between vanilla and yellow cake. I never thought extract could make such a difference but my goodness this bottle smells like heaven. The flavor is concentrated so for your standard recipe, half the amount to start. I used this extract in everything - from the frosting to the simple syrup.

In terms of the actual cake. I don't like to title posts with lavish praises like, "the worlds best" or "greatest ever." There are so many recipes out there and talented bakers - it's impossible to make such claims. I will say, however, this is one incredible vanilla cake and I am so happy that I found it. It comes from the site "How To Cake It" and is demonstrated in a helpful YouTube tutorial. Be patient with the directions - they're tailored so that you can customize the recipe for any size cake (this Wilton chart helped me).

The cake is strong enough that it can be easily frosted and transported yet moist enough that it will make you weak in the knees. Just look at this beautiful, layered behemoth! To help seal the deal, I added vanilla to the simple syrup.

Rather than add color to the cake batter, we decided to go with the pinata version of the gender reveal cake. Keep in mind that you need a bottom layer and a top layer to help sandwich in the filling! From there, cut out the shape you want to serve as the candy container. Glue the layers together with frosting and pour in the filling, sealing with the top layer. The parents slice into the cake and out pours the color-coordinated treat our your choice. I highly recommend custom M&Ms for their cuteness and quality. If you have a few extra, toss them in between the layers of the frosting or bag them as a souvenir for the parents.

The frosting was, as always, my tried and true best friend for life - Swiss Buttercream from Smitten Kitchen. If that recipe was a drinking game, you would get completely trashed by this blog and for good reason: it's delicious and reliable.

The actual decorating portion of this cake did not go according to plan. I loved the base with it's ruffles and even the rustic top. The cake topper is super duper cute - special thanks to Rustic Daisy Designs. Dust with your choice of food-grade luster dust to add a slight glimmer to frosting after its had a chance to firm up in the fridge.

What I didn't love was the gold fondant stars. I wanted varying sizes of stars and had poor luck finding a set that went as small as I wanted. As I stomped around the house frustrated, my wonderful husband jumped in and made these. It was a last minute decision to use them and though I'm still not that crazy about the overall look- I do appreciate Mike's unconditional support. Thank you, darlin!

At  the end of the day, all that matters was the look on the parent's faces when they learned they were having a son. I've never seen a couple learn the gender of their child and it was honestly a magical moment. I can't really put into words the sparkle in their eyes or how genuine their smiles. This lovely young lady and I have been friends since college, from Ishq Kameena to Costa Rica, and it's an honor to have shared in this experience. Thank you both for trusting me. I love you already little man and cannot wait to meet you!

Incredible Vanilla Cake with Swiss Buttercream
Vanilla Cake from How To Cake It
Swiss Buttercream from Smitten Kitchen
Vanilla Simple Syrup