If you are feeling sick, let me make you some soup. Feeling sad? I’ll make you something warm and comforting. Watching your weight? Well you look great to me, but I’ll make you something really healthy. Are you celebrating? I’ll bake you a cake.
I am terrible at small talk, but really good with food. I’ll probably have a hard time explaining myself so let me make something with my own two hands to show you.
When you are away, I’ll send you a care package full of things to nourish you and make you smile. I'll wrap everything in newsprint and tissue paper and include a little note, but the love is in the treats.
I sent my brother and his wife a package today. For their new little ones, I’ll make birthday cakes like this one every year even if I am not with them because that's what I do. I know first impressions are everything so I made this one tall and pink and carefully constructed to make sure they know their aunt is no slouch.
To see how I put this cake together Check out this set of photos on flickr to accompany the instructions below
adapted from Martha Stewart
1 1/2c, 3 sticks, softened butter
9oz almond paste, room temperature
1 1/2c sugar
1/2t vanilla extract
1 1/2c cake flour
3/4t baking powder
Preheat oven to 350º and butter and flour 2, 8'' cake pans (3'' tall works best here) If you have shorter pans, I suggest you divide it into 3 pans to prevent overflow.
1. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, mix the almond paste and sugar until the almond paste is broken up into very small pieces. Add in the butter and beat until light and fluffy, 5min.
3. Add in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients.
4. Divide the batter between the two pans, smooth the tops and slide into the oven. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30min. Cool the cakes in the pan for 10min, then carefully invert on a cooling rack and cool completely.
5. Once cool, trim each cake flat on the top, then in half horizontally. You will have 4 layers of cake when you are finished. If you baked the cake in 3 pans, just trim the tops flat.
Simple Vanilla Buttercream
1 lb softened butter
2 lbs sifted confectioner's sugar
1T vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 cup room temp milk
big pinch salt
In the bowl of a standing mixer or with a hand mixer cream the butter until it is well mixed, about 1 min. Gradually add in the sugar and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 min. Add the salt and vanilla extract. Slowly stream in the milk until the frosting is soft, smooth and spreadable. If you plan on finishing the cake with an ombre design it is helpful if the frosting is very soft, but not runny at all.
To Assemble the Cake
Trimmed Cake Layers
(raspberry or apricot would be great too)
Cake Turntable (not necessary, but SO helpful)
1. Anchor the first layer of cake to the turntable with a bit of buttercream. Spread a thin layer (about 1/3c) of buttercream on the cake, taking care to leave the frosting a little thicker on the edges to make a dam to hold the jam. Top the buttercream with a few tablespoons of jam and top with the next cake layer. Repeat until you use all of the cake layers finishing with the flat bottom of the last cake layer facing upward.
2. Crumbcoat the cake with a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides and refrigerate for at least 30min.
3. While the cake is chilling, prepare the colored frosting. Split the remaining frosting into 4 bowls, tint three of the bowls dark, medium, and very light pink using food coloring. I use gel food coloring and use VERY little even for the darkest frosting. Leave one of the bowls white for the top of the cake.
4. Starting at the bottom of the cake with the darkest color, use a small offset spatula to apply frosting to the bottom 3rd of the cake, then follow with the medium color in the center of the cake and the lightest color towards the top. Top the cake with white frosting to finish. Using a tall spatula, smooth the frosting on the sides as much as possible, don't worry if the colors mix together a little bit, but try not to smoosh them together. Smooth the top.
5. Finish the cake by holding the tip your offset spatula horizontally, pressing gently on the frosting at the bottom of the cake. Smoothly spin the cake turntable while simultaneously dragging the spatula up the side of the cake, stop when you get to the top. Wipe the spatula clean, then gently press the tip of the spatula into the middle of the top of the cake and spin the turntable while simultaneously dragging the spatula towards the outside of the cake.