Mum’s White Cake

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It seems the only thing I want to do these days is live and breathe F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing.  The first thing I read from him was The Great Gatsby, and it did not disappoint.  I am currently reading This Side of Paradise, and it is beautiful and unique.  I cannot wait to write my character analysis of Amory Blaine–I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a character as enigmatic as him.

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“Yes, I know; but to tell you the truth, I’m not worried about you; you seem to me to be progressing perfectly naturally.”
“No,” Amory objected. “I’ve lost half my personality in a year.”
“Not a bit of it!” scoffed Mosignor. “You’ve lost a great amount of vanity and that’s all.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

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In other topics, my first post for you guys this year is cake.  I know–cruel.  In my defense, my mum’s birthday was a couple of days ago and this cake is just too dang good not to share.  I made this white cake for her birthday last year, except with chocolate frosting and multi-coloured sprinkles.  This year, she wanted vanilla buttercream; and because I had a surplus of egg yolks after making the actual cake, I decided to make her one of her favorite cake fillings–vanilla custard!  After piping the frosting all over the cake with a very large star tip and filling the top with custard, the cake had a decidedly European flair, which was perfect.

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It may be the new year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have cake.  Enjoy!

WHITE VANILLA CUSTARD CAKE

  • One recipe White Cake (below)
  • Once recipe Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (below)
  • One recipe Vanilla Custard (below)

Place one cake on your serving platter and pipe a thick border around the top edge.  Pop in the freezer for about five minutes, or until the frosting has hardened.  Pour in enough custard to fill the pool, this should be about half or so.  Stack the second cake layer on top.  Using a very large star tip, pipe stars all over the cake, starting from the bottom and working your way up.  Pipe a two-star rim around the top of the cake (use the pictures for reference) and leave the center unfrosted.  Freeze for another five minutes, or until the frosting has hardened.  Fill the pool with as much custard as you can–you’ll probably have about half a cup leftover.  Chill until ready to serve, layering a bit of plastic wrap over the custard top to keep it fresh.

Serves 10-12

WHITE CAKE

Slightly adapted from the 2008 cake and pie issue of Southern Living.

  • 120 grams / 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 100 grams / 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 440 grams / 2 cups unrefined cane sugar
  • 425 grams / 3 cups cake flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 175 milliliters / 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 175 milliliters / 2/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 6 egg whites

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F, with baking rack in the center of the oven.  Butter and flour two 8 or 9 inch cake pans and set aside.

In the large bowl of your electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening until creamy.  Gradually add in the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

Alternating with the flour mixture and the milk and water, mix the batter on medium speed, beginning and ending with the flour.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Mix in the extracts and set aside.

In a spotless, grease-free bowl dump in your egg whites.  Fit your electric stand mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on high until stiff peaks form.

Add 1/3 of the egg whites into the cake and fold in until no traces remain, being sure not to deflate the egg whites.  Fold in another third and then the final third.

Pour the batter into the two cake pans and pop into the oven to bake for 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

Let the cakes cool in their pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before loosening and flipping out to cool completely.

Makes 2 9-inch layer cakes

VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

Adapted slightly from the 2008 cake and pie issue of Southern Living.

  • 240 grams / 1 cup unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • 905 grams / 32 ounces powdered sugar
  • 160 milliliters / 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

In the large bowl, whip the butter and the pinch of salt.  Alternate adding the powdered sugar and milk, beginning and ending with the powdered sugar.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Next whip the frosting on medium-high speed for five minutes, until pale an aerated.

Makes enough to frost 2 9-inch layer cakes

VANILLA CUSTARD

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 165 grams / 3/4 cup unrefined granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons organic corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 600 milliliters / 2 1/2 cups whole milk (do not even think about using skim)
  • 30 grams / 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Begin by making an ice bath in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, mix together the egg yolks, sugar, corn starch, and salt.

In a large saucepan, heat the milk until almost boiling, being sure to stir to keep it from burning.  Pour about 120 milliliters of hot milk into the egg mixture and mix it well to prevent the eggs from scrambling.  Pour the egg milk mixture back into the pot of hot milk and place on medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring continually, and boil for one minute, until thick.  Remove from heat and add in the butter one cube at  time, mixing well.  Add in the vanilla extract and mix well.

Set a sieve over a medium bowl and pour the custard through to ensure that it is smooth and lump-free.  Place the bowl in the ice bath and allow to cool completely, stirring occasionally to keep it from forming a skin.

Makes about 720 milliliters / 3 cups

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