CAKE TIME! I’d like you to meet my new favourite ‘plain vanilla’ cake recipe. Except it’s NOT just plain vanilla! It’s brown buttah baby. And it also has plenty of beautiful vanilla bean paste. And it’s made with buttermilk, too!
So it has a little extra tang, it’s beautifully moist, it’s got some nutty complexity and plenty of fragrance too. Winner, winner, layer cake dinner.
The other AWESOME thing about this cake is that it’s a melt-and-mix situation. So all you need is a big bowl and a wooden spoon, no heavy machinery, no butter to soften, no beating and creaming required. PERFECT if you, like me, can never remember to get butter out to soften.
Especially if it’s your birthday, and you realise that you’re a food blogger and your blog is called The Sugar Hit and you’ve completely forgotten to make yourself a birthday cake! (Don’t worry, I did have Birthday Key Lime Pie)
The idea for the cake recipe came from the fact that I often find cakes that start with ‘cream butter and sugar’ to be a little dense and dry, a little too poundcake-y. They’re delicious in their own way, but they’re a little too heavy for all the frosting and filling of a full on layer cake. So, what to do?
Well, all my favourite chocolate layer cakes all have that beautiful lush texture that I was chasing, and they are all made with a lot of liquid, and usually oil in place of butter. So I worked my way to a vanilla cake mix backwards from my favourite chocolate ones – loose the chocolate, decrease the liquid a little, decrease the sugar.
Then I wanted to jack up the flavour as much as possible, and oil is bland as hell, so I switched in some browned butter and added plenty of vanilla bean paste. I used buttermilk for my liquid, to give flavour and that lush texture and after a few misfires… TA-DAAAA! Tasty, easy, one bowl cake PERFECT for frosting and filling.
To frost this bad boy, I made a big old batch of vanilla buttercream, sliced each of my cakes into two and layered them up. Then I crumb coated the cake and slammed it into the fridge.
For the sick, swirly, almost camo-style coating (so 90s!) I took the rest of the icing, divided it into three, tinting one third blue and another third pink and leaving the last third white. Then I blobbed the icings all over the cake, and finally went over it with a big, clean palette knife. I piped the remaining icing into a weird little mountain-range on the top and sprinkled over a scattering of assorted sprinkles.
Also HOW FREAKING COOL IS MY HAT! It’s from an awesome cupcake bakery in Melbourne called Cupcake Central and I haven’t taken it off for about three days, because I’m in love with it. Their motto is ‘Hatch That Dream’ and their cupcakes are beautiful and very inspiring – I want to move into their store! Definitely check them out if you’re ever in Melbourne!
Anyway – I hope you try this one out lovelies! Have a great weekend!
- 1 stick (115g) butter
- 2 + ½ cups (375g) plain flour
- 1½ cups (300g) caster sugar (aka superfine sugar)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)
- pinch of salt
- 1½ cups (375ml) buttermilk
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 3 eggs
- 300g (2 sticks + 5 tbsp) butter, softened
- 5 cups (600g) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2-4 tbsp milk
- optional: food colouring (I like natural colours)
- optional: sprinkles
- Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line two 18cm (8inch) cake tins.
- Place the butter into a medium saucepan over a medium heat, and let melt and then begin to bubble. Keep cooking the butter - it will spit, and then foam up (a lot - if it seems like it'll spill over remove from the heat until it calms down and then continue), and then begin to brown. Stop when the butter is nice and dark, almost tea-like in colour. Set aside to cool.
- Place the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- In a separate pitcher, whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla and eggs, and finally the cooled browned butter (including all the browned bits).
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, then stir with a wooden spoon until everything is completely combined - try not to overmix.
- Divide between the two tins, smooth out the batter and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then remove from the tins and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
- To make the frosting, beat the butter and vanilla on a high speed in a stand mixer until pale and creamy. Add in half the sugar, and beat on a low speed until incorporated. Then add the remaining half and beat again, on a low speed, until incorporated.
- Turn the mixer to a high speed, and beat, adding in the milk a tbsp at a time, beating well between each, until the frosting reaches a fluffy, spreadable and smooth consistency. You may not need all the milk.
- Trim the cakes, if they are domed, and slice each layer in half. Use half the icing to fill and crumb-coat the cake, and then divide the remaining into three, tinting one third blue, one third pink and leaving the final third white.
- Blob the icings all over the cake, and then smooth over with a large palette knife.
- Pipe any remaining icing in little peaks on top of the cake, and top with sprinkles, if desired.