Wedding Cakes' Recipes Resumed: Vanilla Cake


I apologize for not having posted in a week!  It's been hectic, and if you will, please pray for Zach Sisk and the Sisk family.  I wouldn't usually request that on a food blog, but I feel that the more people who are praying the better for the whole situation. 

So, on to the cake.  My apologies for only having one picture!  I was very bad about photographically documenting the wedding cake tiers.  The top tier of the square wedding cake was a white cake, and the bride and groom wanted a vanilla flavor to it.  You can of course find a plethora of white cake recipes in cook books and online, but all of the ones I've tried have been a little...lackluster.  There usually isn't a lot of flavor, and they can tend to the dry side of things.

I turned to a great cake book, Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne.  This was the first cake book I purchased, and almost solely on the accolades given by Deb of Smitten Kitchen.  I haven't been disappointed.  For the vanilla cake tier, I used the recipe for Vanilla Bean Cake With White Chocolate Buttercream, found on pages 82-83.  I didn't make the white chocolate buttercream for this particular cake, so I can't tell you about that.  What I can tell you about is this cake.  It is fluffy but dense, moist, and the vanilla flavor is very pronounced due to the use of vanilla extract and vanilla bean.  It's no ordinary white cake.  It is officially a vanilla cake. 

Below are the original instructions to make one triple layer, 8 inch round cake.  I actually made 2 square six inch layers and a dozen cupcakes. 

Vanilla Bean Cake
3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 whole vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 sticks plus 2 Tb. (9 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 c. milk
5 egg whites
1 Tb. vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8 inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.  Butter the parchment. 

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl.  With the mixer on low speed, blend well.  With the tip of a small knife, scrape the tiny seeds from inside the vanilla bean into the bowl; discard the bean pod or reserve for another use.  Add the butter and 1 cup of the milk and mix to blend.  Raise the mixer to medium speed and beat until the batter is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites with the vanilla extract and the remaining 1/3 c. milk.  Add this to the batter in 2 to 3 additions, scraping down the bowl well and mixing only to incorporate.  Divide the batter among the prepared pans.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans for 10 minutes; then invert onto wire racks, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely, about 1 hour. 

Cook's Notes
  • I think I used cake flour here, but due to my aversion to cake flour I would just as readily use White Lily All Purpose, taking out 2 Tb. flour from each cup I used. 
  • The "other use" for which you can reserve the vanilla bean is limited only by your imagination and desire to think something up.  One popular thing people do with it is to stick it into some sugar.  The pod will perfume and flavor the sugar. 
  • What to do with all those leftover egg yolks?  While I didn't do anything to mine in time enough, you could use it to make lemon curd, hollandaise sauce, or zabaglione.  One day those will be posted on here.  Hold me to that. 

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