I always say that baking should be substance over style … but every so often I achieve a wonderful marriage of both.
My niece turned three this year, which of course called for a Frozen-themed birthday cake. I originally had an idea to try my first fondant covered cake, and the plan was to decorate the cake with snowflake cutouts using coloured fondant and topping the cake with store-bought figures from the movie. But after pounding the pavement and searching online, I couldn’t get my hands on a snowflake shaped cutter.
Onto plan B … which I had to hatch while walking the aisles of Michael’s. My eyes landed on a castle cake set, which I’d considered buying a couple of years ago for a beach-themed cake. I picked it up and was once again scared off by the number of pieces. Also, the two-tiered cake on the cover was much bigger than I needed for a gathering of just over 10 people. But then I realized I could keep it to one tier and use just some of the pieces to produce a more modest but impressive cake that could serve as Anna’s (or is it Elsa’s?) castle. Luckily, I bumped into a mother who was also seeking ideas for a Frozen cake. She was familiar with the castle set and fully supported my plan.
It took a lot of baking, icing, piping and dowelling to achieve my final product, but my money didn’t go to waste:
My niece was absolutely adamant about blowing out her candle over an all-vanilla cake. While I was sad to abandon the nutella cake that she’d first requested, the silver lining was that white cake, filling and icing would be more compatible with the Frozen theme … But I still hadn’t found the perfect vanilla cake recipe.
I decided to try the Joy of Baking’s White Butter Cake. I was attracted by the direction to separate the eggs and fold beaten egg whites into the batter as a last step – correctly assuming that it would achieve a lighter, fluffier cake. I doubled the recipe to make three 9” cakes. It turned out well.
Last summer I made the most amazing Campfire Delight cake for my nephew’s birthday, recipe courtesy of Sweetapolita. I thought the toasted marshmallow frosting portion of this recipe would be perfect for my all-vanilla cake. It kind of reminds me of Twinkie filling.
I didn’t have a jar of marshmallow fluff, so I made it myself from a recipe I found on Confessions of a Bright-Eyed Baker. This yielded at least double the marshmallow cream that was needed. To the frosting recipe, I added maybe half a teaspoon of salt. I also toasted and threw in an extra marshmallow, just for kicks.
This recipe yields enough for two generous layers of filling (for a 9” cake).
I’ve come to love making meringue buttercreams, so I used Sweetapolita’s Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream for this one (scroll down in the entry for the Millionaire’s Layer Cake). This recipe yielded more than enough to generously cover a very tall three-layered 9” cake.
The birthday girl loved her cake as much for the decoration as the taste. And I was finally satisfied with myself for producing a satisfying vanilla cake with a variety of textures and subtle nuances in the vanilla flavour.