It’s my birthday today, guys! I shared my birthday cake with you last year, so I thought, why not continue the tradition. I also mentioned in that post last year that I was working on cooking my way through a cookbook. I did not make it all the way through in a year as I had hoped. But, I did make it pretty far and learned a TON during the process.
One thing I worked on a lot last year was different kinds of frostings. I actually don’t bake cakes all that often as they are a lot of work, and you really don’t want too many cakes sitting in eating distance of you if you can help it. I have a real problem with saying no to sweets, if you can’t tell.
Anyway, through all that frosting research, I found a few new favorites. Turns out I am a pretty big fan of Swiss meringue buttercream. It’s amazing and also super rich. Which I say, if you’re celebrating, why not? Just don’t make it every week. Which I would never do because it’s actually a fairly difficult frosting to make. But I have a trick I learned (that I’ll share with you) that makes even the most lumpy Swiss meringue come out smooth every time.
I also decided on a funfetti cake this year. I can’t really explain why. It just sounded good to me. Oh—and yes, I decorated it with Trix. I’m 29 today, guys. If I want to decorate my birthday cake with kid’s cereal, I can!
Funfetti Buttermilk Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream, makes one.
Recipe lightly adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
For the cake:
1 cup softened butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 3/4 to 2 ounces rainbow sprinkles
In a bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and salt. Give that a good whisk to combine and remove any clumps from the cake flour. Set aside. In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Then add the eggs two at a time, stirring well in between. Then stir in the vanilla extract. Now add half of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk. Stir until combined. Then add the remaining flour and buttermilk, and stir until combined. Last, stir in the jimmies. Add parchment paper to two round cake pans and butter the edges.
Divide the batter into the two pans. Bake at 350°F for 30-32 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in pans before removing to a cooling rack. You really want these cakes to be completely cooled before adding the frosting. You could even make these a day or two ahead, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator before assembling with frosting.
In a heat proof mixing bowl or glass bowl set over simmering water, whisk the sugar and egg whites for 2-3 minutes. We’re looking to completely dissolve the sugar without cooking the eggs so our frosting with be smooth (and not grainy) in texture. You can check if your mixture is ready by rubbing a little bit between your fingers. You should not be able to feel any sugar granules.
With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium for 5 minutes (this allows the mixture to cool). Then increase the speed to high and beat for another 6-7 minutes until stiff, glossy peaks form. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter a tablespoon or two at a time while the mixer is running. You really want your butter to be at room temperature here so that it will more easily mix into the frosting.
Once you’ve added all the butter, pour in the vanilla extract. Once you’ve added all the butter, if the frosting looks lumpy or cottage cheese like—don’t freak out. This happens to me too, at least half the time I make Swiss meringue buttercream.
Trick for “fixing” lumping Swiss meringue: Remove about 1/4 cup of the mixture from the mixing bowl. Microwave on high for a few seconds, just until melted. Then, with your mixer set to medium, add the liquid frosting to the lumpy frosting. Beat until smooth.
This will make slightly more frosting than you may need, depending on how you decide to decorate your cake. But, better to have just a little too much than not enough. 🙂
What’s this poorly lit photo? Well, I wanted to show you how temperamental this buttercream can be. See the top of the cake, with the melted looking frosting? That’s from having the candles lit for just a minute or two. This frosting is mostly butter, so it can melt or harden quickly depending what you do with it. So, keep that in mind. I find that making this just before I need it is usually the best way to go.
You can store it in the refrigerator for a few days if you need or if you just won’t have time to make it fresh before your party, but it can be difficult to get it back to room temperature so it’s smooth and spreadable again. If you do store it, try my microwave trick again to get it smooth if you think that it’s just not looking as good as the day you made it.
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman.