Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer Plan of Action

Am I the only person who makes a summer plan of action? It's a habit I got into years ago, just making lists of things I wanted to do, books I wanted to read, goals to accomplish, things like that. I've already begun work on one of my "actions" 
And I got to cross something else off my ingredients list by using vanilla bean! One of my best friends gave some to me, and I was so excited that I smiled all day.

As you've noticed by now, (don't try and be polite, I can handle it) decorating isn't my strong point. I've seen so many desserts that are beautiful but taste like nothing but sugar and food coloring. And I'm not willing to sacrifice flavor for beauty. 

But....I'm beginning to realize that presentation does matter. If food looks wonderful people will be drawn to it. One of my goals is trying to find that medium where taste and appearance can exist harmoniously.

This cake finds itself in that happy place. Vanilla bean cake, sweet and fluffy, is enveloped by piles of buttercream roses. Me! Making buttercream roses! Never thought I could do that. But I can. And it feels great to see all that effort become something lovely.'s kinda fun. Don't you think this would be so pretty as a wedding cake? brain is getting distracted with cake dreams. I think my summer plan of action might just expand a bit. 

Vanilla Roses Cake
cake adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes


3 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (if you don't have cake flour, no worries. Follow this tutorial to get some in no time flat!)
1 1/2 Tb baking powder
1 Tb pure vanilla extract (or, a vanilla bean, sliced in half with the seeds scraped out. Don't you dare throw that pod away though. Stick it in a jar of sugar. Mmm.) 
1 cup plus 2 Tb milk
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter (aka 1/2 cup + 6 Tb)
1 3/4 cups white sugar
5 egg whites, room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease two 9 inch cake pans. Sift together flour and baking powder. Stir vanilla into milk. 
2. With an electric mixer, cream butter on medium high. Gradually beat in sugar until mixture is pale and fluffy. Turn the mixer to low, add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with 2 additions of milk. 
3. In another bowl, with mixer on high, whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into batter in three portions. Divide batter evenly between pans, and firmly tap them on the countertop to release air bubbles. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until cake tester comes out clean (not too clean...otherwise it'll get dry). Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a wire rack to cool completely. Completely. Patience is a virtue. 

Mkay, now that the cakes are completely cooled it's time to prepare them for frosting. If you have never assembled a layer cake, check out this guide. It's not hard. Oh, I definitely only did two layers, but feel free to go crazy if you want. Frosting time!

Vanilla Buttercream
(This seems like a disgusting amount of sugar, but trust me, you need it. Those roses take a lot of frosting. Also, if it is hotter than 85 degrees, don't use butter. It will melt. Saboteur. Use all shortening instead. )

1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup Crisco or other solid shortening
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 cups powdered sugar (one 2 lb. bag)
6 Tablespoons milk

Cream the butter, shortening, vanilla, and salt together. Add the powdered sugar and milk. Mix on low speed until powdered sugar is mixed in. Mix on med. low speed for 10 to 15 minutes. When you can take a teaspoon of icing out and drop it on waxed paper and it holds it's shape and seems firm.....then your icing is ready to decorate with.

Do you know how to do a crumb coat? It's just a thin, messy layer of frosting to seal all the crumbs in. You're going to want to do one of those first. Sorry for all the links, but I'm going to direct you to the Rose Queen herself for the decorating tutorial. She can explain far better than I. 


  1. That cake is beautiful, Rebecca! I am super impressed! I've seen butter creme roses all over Foodgawker, but they looked so intimidating...

  2. Thanks so much! It made me so happy ^_^


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