Vanilla Cake with Sweet Cream Syrup & Butterscotch Frosting

This is a vanilla cake.  But it’s not just any old regular vanilla cake.  It’s a vanilla cake brushed with a sweet cream syrup, slathered with butterscotch frosting, and covered with nonpareils.  The recipe for this little beauty comes from Cake Magic: Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations, a cookbook that provide so many combinations of cake flavors, syrups, and frostings that you could bake a cake every day for several months and never make the same thing.

img_7349
img_73561

Vanilla Cake with Sweet Cream Syrup & Butterscotch Frosting

Makes one nine-inch, 2-layer cake
(from Cake Magic: Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations)
My notes are in [  ] below.

Ingredients

Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup full-fat plain yogurt (not Greek yogurt)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, or 1 cup vegetable oil [I prefer butter because it’s provides a richer flavor.]
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Sweet Cream Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butterscotch Frosting

[I only made half of this frosting recipe.  It was enough frosting for a thin layer between the two layers, and fully frosting the top of the cake. For me it kept the cake from being too sweet.] 
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup malted milk powder [I used dry milk powder, without the malt]
Pinch of salt
4 cups (about 16 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon butterscotch flavor or to taste [I used Frontier Butterscotch Flavor.  You can use 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract if you want to make vanilla frosting]

Directions

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter the bottom and the side of two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans [or a 10-inch Bundt cake pan, a 13×9 inch sheet cake pan, ).  Dust with flour to coat, then invert and tap out any excess.   24 cupcakes- use liners, no need for greasing and coating the tins.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
  3. Stir in the yogurt, butter, water, vanilla, and eggs until moistened and no lumps remain (be careful not to overmix).
  4. Divide the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake until the layers are domed and golden brown, and a few moist crumbs cling to a skewer interested in the center of the cake, 30-40 minutes (40-50 minutes for a Bundt, 25-30 minutes for a 13×9-inch cake, and 20-25 minutes for cupcakes).

Sweet Cream Syrup

  1. While the cake is baking, make the sweet cream syrup.
  2. Combine the sugar, cream, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Set aside to cool.
  4. Use the syrup warm or let it stand covered, until it reaches room temperature.  Note: Sweet cream syrup will keep, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week.  Reheat in a small saucepan over low heat before using.
  5. After removing the hot cake layers from the oven, pierce them, while still in their pans, at one-inch intervals with a skewer or a paring knife to create channels for the syrup to seep into the cakes.
  6. Pour or generously brush the syrup over the surface of the hot layers, dividing it between them as evenly as possible.
  7. Transfer the soaked layers (still in their pans) to a wire rack to cool completely (1 to 2 hours).  When they are cooled and no longer wet to touch, carefully turn them out of their pants and frost.

Butterscotch Frosting

  1. Make the frosting while the cake cools.
  2. Combine the butter, milk powder, salt, and two cups of the confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar, and beat on medium speed until the frosting is pale and no longer grainy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the butterscotch flavor (or vanilla extract), and beat until frosting is very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Note: the frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 1 week.  Before using, bring it back to room temperature and stir vigorously or beat it again for best results.
  5. Frost the cooled cake layers.

Vanilla Bean Tuiles

One day, several months ago, I had grand dreams of making the best fortune cookies ever.  So, I found a vanilla bean tuile cookie recipe that looked manageable, got my fortunes to be stuffed inside the cookies ready, and started baking.  Sadly my first attempt at a fortune cookie resulted in the paper fortune sticking to the cookie, and my dreams were dashed in an instant.  I decided the only way to salvage my dream was to roll up the cookie into a cigar-shaped tuile and cast aside the fortunes.  Well, 5 minutes later (after the cookie had cooled), I took a bite of my tuile and declared it one of the most delicious things I’ve ever baked.  The butter and vanilla really shine through in these cookies.  They’re extra rich, very light, and delightfully crispy and crunchy.

A few things to keep in mind if you decide to bake these cookies.  1.  It make take some time to bake up all the batter as you’ll need to individually shape the cookies while they’re warm, so don’t put more than two baking pans in the oven (unless you have several pairs of hands helping you shape the cookies).  I only baked one cookie sheet at a time (with only 6 cookies per cookie sheet) to ensure I could work quickly enough to shape the cookies while they were warm.  So, you’ll have to find the technique and rhythm that works best for you.  2.  It helps to have fingertips that can withstand some heat as these should be rolled as soon as it’s bearable to touch them after they’ve been removed from the oven. So tender fingers should be especially careful.  3.  You’ll need to line your cookie sheets with silicone baking mats.  The original recipe states that you can use heavy-duty foil, dull side up, but I haven’t tried that.  You’ve been forewarned!

Vanilla Bean Tuiles-AMedrich

Vanilla Bean Tuiles

Makes about forty 2 1/2 inch tuiles
(from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy: Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich)

Ingredients

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm,  plus extra for greasing the pan liners
2/3 cup (4.625 ounces) sugar
3 large egg whites
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground vanilla beans (I used an equal amount of vanilla bean paste)
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Place racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  3. If using foil, smooth it to remove any wrinkles, which would distort the cookies. Grease the silicone mats or the foil lightly but thoroughly with melted butter.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until blended.
  5. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  6. Drop level teaspoons of the batter 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets.  Use a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon, and in a circular motion, spread the batter evenly in 2 1/2 inch rounds about 1/16 inch thick.
  7. Bake, watching carefully, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tuiles are golden brown half to three-quarters of the way to the center but still pale in the center.
  8. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. If the cookies are not baked long enough, they will not be completely crisp when cool.

     8a.  If Using Silicone Mats (This is the method I used) – As soon as you can, use a thin metal spatula to 1) transfer a cookie to a rack to cool flat or 2) shape it by draping it over a rolling pin, nestling it into a little cup, or rolling it into a cigar shape with your fingers (the last option is the one I did). Try to work as quickly as possible to remove the remaining tuiles.  If the cookies cool before shaping, you can return them to the oven for 30 seconds to reheat/soften them.
     8b.  If Using Foil (I haven’t tried this but below are the directions from the original recipe) –  Slide the foil sheet of cookies onto a rack to cool flat. Or, for curved tuiles, grasp the edges of the foil when the sheet comes from the oven (without touching the hot pan or the cookies) and roll it into a fat cylinder, gently curving the attached cookies like potato chips. Crimp or secure the foil with a paper clip. When cool, unroll the foil carefully and remove the tuiles. Alternatively, remove individual tuiles from the foil while they are hot (as soon as you can coax a thin metal spatula under a cookie without destroying it) and shape them as described above. Flat or curved, tuiles are easiest to remove from the foil when they are either very hot or completely cool.

Repeat until all of the tuiles are baked. To retain crispness, put the cookies in an airtight container as soon as they are cool.

NOTE:  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Vanilla Hot Milk Cake

This tender, airy, fluffy Vanilla Hot Milk Cake measures in at two inches tall.  The addition of whole milk makes it extra flavorful without being dense and adds a beautiful, slightly crunchy top crust.  I love it when a cake is so delicious that it doesn’t need any frosting.  It’s no surprise that this is one of my favorite vanilla cake recipes.

Hot Milk Cake - KAF2

Vanilla Hot Milk Cake

(from King Arthur Flour)
Makes one 9×13 inch cake, about 2 dozen servings

Ingredients

2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
4 large eggs
1/3 cup (2 3/8 ounces) canola oil
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) butter
1 cup (8 ounces) milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan that’s at least 2″ deep.
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar together until they’re light and fluffy, about 2 minutes at medium-high speed using an electric or stand mixer.
  3. Slowly beat in the canola oil.
  4. In a separate medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix at medium speed.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then beat again, to fully incorporate any sticky bits.
  6. In a saucepan set over medium heat, bring the butter and milk just to a boil. Add the vanilla. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir the mixture until the butter is completely melted.
  7. Slowly add the hot milk mixture to the cake batter, mixing until everything is well combined. Scrape the bowl, and mix briefly, just until smooth.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, and the top feels set.
  10. Remove the cake from the oven, and place it on a rack to cool.
  11. Serve in squares, as is. Or top with icing or caramel sauce.

Vanilla Layer Cake

Here’s proof that everything that comes out of my kitchen isn’t always chocolate.  I made this cake a few weeks ago for a birthday, but it seems to also be fitting for a 4th of July celebration.  This Berry Vanilla Cake is made up of vanilla buttercream frosting nestled between two layers of tender vanilla cake, and the top layer of cake is slathered with more frosting and topped with berries.  The frosting is unique (to me) in that it’s the first frosting I’ve made that doesn’t use powdered sugar, and the cream and sugar are heated on the stove top until boiling.  It takes much more time (compared to the usual mix milk with powdered sugar version) to make this frosting, but the texture is so delicate, light, and creamy and the flavor is so rich yet not overpowering that it will be hard to go back to the my “old” version of frosting.

I opted for berries because I’m not very good at piping and other fancy cake decorating techniques.

Vanilla cake- A Medrich 1

Here’s a close up of the last slice of cake after it had been jostled around and been out in warm weather for a few hours.  The frosting started to melt a bit, but I can assure you that everything was still really delicious.

Vanilla cake- A Medrich 5

Vanilla Layer Cake

(from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts Quicker and Smarter Recipes by Alice Medrich)
Makes one 8-inch 2-layer cake

Ingredients

Cake
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6.125 ounces) sugar
1 cup (4.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and hot
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Frosting
Makes about 2 cups (enough to fill and frost an 8- or 9-inch layer cake or to frost a single layer or 12 cupcakes lavishly)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt, if using unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted or salted butter, slightly softened but still cold, cut into chunks

Directions

Cake

  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Grease and flour the sides of the cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Add the sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder to the food processor and pulse to blend the ingredients thoroughly.
  4. Add the cream and butter and pulse quickly, 8 to 10 times, until the ingredients are blended.
  5. Add the eggs and vanilla and pulse 5 to 6 times.
  6. Scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse 5 to 6 more times, just until the ingredients are blended and smooth.  Do not overmix.
  7. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread it evenly.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Set the pan on a rack to cool for about 10 minutes.
  10. Slide a thin knife or a small metal spatula around the edges of the cake to detach it from the pan.
  11. Invert the cake onto the rack and peel off the parchment liner.  Turn the cake right side up on the rack to cool completely.  Once cooled, the cake keeps, wrapped airtight, at room temperature for 3 days, or in the freezer for up 3 months; bring to room temperature before serving.

Frosting

  1. Thoroughly mix the cream, sugar, and salt (if using) in a small saucepan.
  2. Wipe the sides of the pan clean with a silicone spatula and rinse the spatula (any sugar crystals clinging to it might crystallize the frosting when you use it later).
  3. Cover the pan, set over medium heat, and heat until the mixture is bubbling all over.
  4. Uncover the pan, adjust the heat so that the mixture boils actively but not furiously, and cook without stirring for 1 minute.
  5. Use the spatula to scrape the hot mixture into a medium stainless steel bowl.
  6. Let cool without stirring, until barely lukewarm, about 45 minutes.
  7. Set the bowl in a larger bowl of cold water and ice cubes and add the vanilla to the frosting.
  8. With an electric mixer, gradually beat in the chunks of butter and continue to beat until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.  If it is not thick or stiff enough, keep it in the ice water and continue to beat until it thickens, or chill the bowl for 15 minutes in the fridge and beat it again.  If the frosting is too stiff or cold, set the bowl in a larger bowl of hot water until the frosting starts to melt around the bottom, then beat it or stir briskly with a spatula until it reaches the desired consistency.

Assembling the Cake

  1. Cut the cake in half so that you have two layers.
  2. Flip the top layer, cut side up, next to the bottom layer.
  3. Spread about 2/3 of the frosting over the bottom layer of the cake.
  4. Set the top layer, cut side down, on the frosting, and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
  5. Add berries or any other type of decorations.

The original recipe says that the cake keeps in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days, but I refrigerated my cake overnight and ate it the next day after bringing it to room temperature.