This is the one my family loves. This recipe has brought me peace of mind at last. It’s the reason I’ve called off the search for the perfect vanilla cake. I’ve found it. This cake, paired with this chocolate frosting, is the cake of my childhood dreams. This is the one, my friends. This is the one.
And the timing is just perfect. Over here at The Little Blue Apron, we are celebrating four years of sharing recipes and living a handcrafted, delicious life. Thank you, thank you! to all our followers. I can’t think of a better way to look back on the last four years than with a cold glass of milk and a slice of this cake! I can’t wait to offer you more vintage cake and classic cocktail recipes as well as basic French cooking techniques in the weeks, months and years ahead!
Golden Vanilla Cake
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder *
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, soft **
- 1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
* Test your baking powder. In Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking, a neat little paperback book by Julia Child meant to be used as a quick reference, I learned to stir a teaspoon of baking powder into 1/2 cup of hot water. Says Julia, “If it doesn’t bubble up in a lively way, throw it out.”
**By the way, soft means soft. Not just room temperature, but seriously soft.
Take the butter out of the refrigerator first and cut it into chunks.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter (use your fingers!) and flour two 9″ round cake pans.
In the bowl of a stand mixer whisk (by hand) together the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add the butter and beat (using the paddle attachment) at low speed until the mixture looks sandy.
Combine the vanilla and milk and add all at once. Mix at low speed for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds.
Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl.
With the mixer running at low speed, add 1 egg. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds (until incorporated). Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides.
Repeat the above steps with the remaining eggs, adding each one at a time.
After the fourth and last egg is added, scrape the bottom and sides once more, then beat at medium-high speed for an additional 30 seconds.
Pour the batter into the cake pans (I use a scale to weigh each pan after filling them, trying to get them as close to even as I can).
Bake about 25-27 minutes. I always begin testing after about 18 minutes or so (this is also around the time when I first begin to smell cake in the air). The cake is done when a toothpick inserted an inch from the middle comes out clean, when it’s a golden brown and just beginning to pull away from the edge of the pan.
Remove the cakes from the oven and place it on a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pans. Left in the pans any longer and the cakes will begin to sweat and toughen.
Best Chocolate Frosting
- 1 3/4 cups unsweetened baking cocoa
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder or 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee)*
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup unsalted butter, very soft
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (this means, measure 2 cups then sift)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Take the butter out of the refrigerator, cut into chunks to soften.
Bring the cream to a gentle simmer on the stove.
Sift the cocoa, 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar and espresso powder (or instant espresso coffee), into a bowl.
Whisk the warmed cream into the cocoa mixture.
At first the mixture will look grainy but keep on going, about a minute longer until it becomes smooth and silky.
You’ll see the lumps disappear as the sugar dissolves and the cocoa hydrates. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Place the butter, salt and 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla (30 seconds).
With the mixer running on low speed, add the cocoa mixture a spoonful at a time until it’s all incorporated. Thoroughly scrape the sides and bottom of bowl, then beat at medium speed for one more minute.
Fill and frost cake.