This cake has managed a well-deserved spot after a couple of healthy dishes. I was so excited to write this post and that explains why it’s long! Oh what would I do without cakes…and the joy of baking them and frosting them- just wish I could more of them than I do now. Just the beautiful sweet smell of a plain vanilla bean cake gets me excited! So we had a potluck-house-party to attend recently and we, as expected, carried dessert and oh also what I think is my world famous chicken biryani (it’s actually my mum’s recipe but anyway.. :)). The chicken biryani has a post dedicated to it so I won’t go into the details of that. You can find the recipe for my world famous Chicken Biryani here.
So going back to the cake now, so I made a Vanilla Bean Cake with Raspberry Preserve Filling and Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream! I know a vanilla cake may sound plain and boring but I was trying a new recipe, a new mixing method and a new kind of buttercream! Also there is nothing like a classic vanilla cake with a fudgy chocolate frosting- it’s just the best! I have also been researching and trying the different kinds of buttercream lately. The reason being that even though American buttercream is easy and quick to make without any scope for going wrong, I just don’t like the idea of having to put 5 cups of confectioner’s sugar onto a cake. Not that a cake is otherwise not sweet so we could do without those 5 cups of sugar- at least on layer cakes. That being said, I still love buttercream frosting- all kinds.
Vanilla Bean Cake
So this cake recipe and the mixing method baked me a cake that was beautifully golden, moist and had just the perfect texture! The process was different in that I didn’t start with creaming the butter and sugar rather followed a process which may sound confusing at first but easy to follow. So I used the cake recipe from Sweetapolita and used one vanilla bean instead of the vanilla extract in the recipe. I used only the cake recipe from Sweetapolita and not the frosting.
Chocolate Swiss Meringue Butttercream
I must tell you one thing- I used to be very intimated with these fancy meringues and things that sound and look as complicated as meringues- until I made this. So don’t be scared and go all out! I first made a small batch to test the recipe. The recipe that I used was actually a combination of the Swiss meringue buttercream recipes from Sweetapolita and Smitten Kitchen.
I made the test batch using the Smitten Kitchen practice batch recipe and followed the pictures from Sweetapolita to give me an idea of how it should look at every stage. Believe me it is important to know how it should look or you’d panic- actually you’ll panic either ways just like I did. So, the practice batch that I made came out really nice and silky and not cloyingly sweet. But I did think that it left a buttery taste in my mouth- more than how I would like it. So for my final batch I fixed that and this is how I did it:
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 large egg whites
- 20 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed in 1 inch cubes and softened at room temperature (not greasy just softened)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, melted (I like to add 1 teaspoon of instant coffee powder while melting the chocolate)
- Make sure your mixing bowl is clean and grease-free. As suggested by many bakers, wipe your mixing bowls with lemon and a paper towel before starting.
- Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a big bowl over a pot of simmering water. Just FYI, the fancy term for this method of cooking over simmering water is “bain marie”. :)
- Whisk gently, continuously, until the temperature reaches 160 F on a candy thermometer or if you don’t have a candy thermometer then until the sugar has completely dissolved, the eggs are hot and you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.
- Transfer mixture into the stand mixer or with a hand mixer, whip with the whisk attachment until it turns white, glossy and doubles in size and the bottom of the mixing bowl is cool.
- Next, with the mixer on low speed and with the paddle attachment, add the cubed butter, one at a time, until incorporated. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium. The mix may look curdled but that is absolutely normal. Keep mixing until it all comes together and starts looking like frosting. This may take quite sometime- about 15 minutes.
- Next, add in the cooled melted chocolate, vanilla extract and mix until fully incorporated and tada… your Chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream is ready!
- This recipe makes enough to frost a 2-layer 9 inch round cake with a little left over.
How to save the buttercream from disasters
This is a very important section of this post and I am talking from experience here so I am sure you’ll appreciate this. So after 15 minutes of beating in step 5 above, if either of the following happen then don’t worry, you can always save this buttercream:
- If your buttercream is too runny even after having mixed for 15 minutes, try keeping it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and then beat again. It should come together within a couple of minutes. The reason for this is that your butter may have been too soft when you put it in so it didn’t come together.
- If your buttercream looks runny and curdled at the same time, it’s possible that your butter was too cold. In this case, take 1/4th portion of the mix and warm it up in the microwave for about 15 seconds and add it back to the mix and beat well. It will come together in minutes like magic!
Both of the above have happened with me and I have panicked, irrespective of the fact that the recipe I was reading asked me not to stress. Human tendency I guess?! So all I can say is try and not panic.
Assembly of the cake
- Make sure your layer cakes are completely cooled. I prefer to cool them wrapped in cling wrap overnight on the kitchen counter. Cling wrap the cakes only after they have cooled for about 3-4 hours otherwise your cake layers may break.
- Place one layer on your cake stand/ turntable. Pipe the edge of this layer with the buttercream making just a border around the cake.
- Then spread the raspberry preserve or any other preserve over the layer. I used a store-bought preserve but you could make your fillings.
- Then, place the other layer of the cake and press it gently.
- Now frost away to glory!!
- Once done, keep this in the refrigerator. An hour before you are ready to serve, take it out and keep it at room temperature.
So I hope you try this and have as much fun and as many panic attacks as I did (kidding about the panic attacks!)
We don’t really have a “good” picture of the sliced cake. We carried the entire cake to the party and after dinner all the kids at the party actually lined up for us to cut the cake and give them a slice. We really wanted to take nicer pictures but we were under pressure to just cut and serve! So here is a not-so-good-phone-picture.
Also, tell us how we did??
Here is an update on what else I did with these recipes. If you haven’t already seen here, I made cupcakes with this recipe too! And they turned out great. I made two batches: one, mini cupcakes with and without the frosting and another batch of just regular cupcakes. This recipe makes 24 mini cupcakes plus 18 regular cupcakes. Look how these turned out.. you are going to looo….ve them..
Look at these beauties…right out of the oven
these bite size mini cupcakes are the best…
but they are even better with the frosting
How happy I feel seeing these!! So, what do you guys think?