Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Italian Meringue Buttercream

I made this for a wedding cake I made this weekend, everyone loved it. This might be one of the best yellow cakes I've ever tried, it light, buttery and moist.
Vanilla Buttermilk Cake 
Makes one three-layer 9-inch round cake 

3 3/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Mix on low speed briefly to blend; then raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and the remaining 1/3 cup buttermilk until well blended. Pour one-third of the egg mixture into the cake batter at a time, folding it in completely after each addition. There will be 9 cups of batter; our 3 cups batter into each pan.
4. Bake for 26 to 28 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Turn the layers out onto wire racks by placing a rack on top of a pan, inverting it, and lifting off the pan. Peel off the paper liners and let cool completely.
While cake is baking, you can start preparing the buttercream. I love using Italian Meringue Buttercream because it light & fluffy, has less sugar then traditional (american) buttercream and decorator frosting. I am not going to lie, at first I was intimidated by the thought of making meringue and adding hot sugar but if you have a standmixer it's so easy!

Italian Meringue Buttercream
5 eggs whites (large)
10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) extra-fine granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup water
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, soften
-candy thermometer & standmixer with whisk attachment would be helpful

1. Separate the eggs and place the whites in the bowl of the standing mixer fitted with a wire whip attachment. Reserve the yolks for another use.
2. Measure 1 cup of the sugar into a heavy-bottomed 1-quart saucepan with 1/4 cup water. Gently stir to combine; I use the candy thermometer for this. Leave the candy thermometer in the saucepan, numbers facing down to balance the thermometer.
3. Measure the 1/4 cup sugar into a small bowl and set aside.
4. Cut the butter into tablespoon-size pieces and set aside in a medium bowl.
5. Begin making the sugar syrup. Place the saucepan with the sugar and water over medium-high heat. Partially cover with a lid to capture the evaporating water -- this helps to moisten the sides of the saucepan to prevent sugar crystals separating from the syrup.
6. Begin whipping the egg whites to stiff peak in a standing mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment set to high speed. When the whites are at stiff peak you have a meringue. Keep the mixer running and pour the 1/4 cup of sugar into the meringue.
7. Raise the heat to bring the syrup to 245 degrees if it is not there already. When the syrup is at 245 degrees, remove the thermometer.
8. Slowly pour the syrup into the meringue when pouring, keep your eye on the bowl. Aim for the space between the mixer bowl and the revolving wire whip. To maintain the same rate of pouring, pour slowly and raise the saucepan from your shoulder. Twisting at the wrist or elbow tends to throw off my aim.
9. After 1 to 2 minutes reduce the speed to medium for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the meringue is cooled.
10. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to high for one to two minutes to fully combine the butter with the meringue.
11. At this point, flavorings can be added to the base recipe for Italian meringue buttercream, below is an example of the amount of flavoring to add to the buttercream.
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract or any extract (almond, orange, etc.)
-1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, melted
-2 to 4 tablespoons (to taste) dark rum
-2 to 4 tablespoons (to taste) amaretto/coffee
-1/4 to 1/2 cup raspberry puree

-2 tablespoons lemon liqueur (lemoncello)
-1 teaspoon orange oil
-1 teaspoon lime oil

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