Since our wedding anniversary and Mr. K's birthday are only a few days apart, my initial plan was to eat our anniversary tier on the 15th and prepare a birthday cake for him on the 18th. I planned on making his birthday cake similar to his groom's cake from our wedding since there wasn't any left over for us to take home. It was a (too small) chocolate cake with pecan praline filling (in hindsight I should have requested a tier or two of the wedding cake in that flavor instead of a single flavor wedding cake. Oh well).
To honor Mr. K's very special day (the Big Three-Oh), I asked him what flavor birthday cake he would like (I was predicting something in the chocolate-peanut butter-caramel range). Given that we had to toss our anniversary tier because the freezer broke, he very sweetly replied that I make any flavor cake I wanted, as long as the inside had sprinkles like our wedding cake (which was lemon confetti cake--because sprinkles are my favorite!). Awwwwww! So...sprinkle cake it is! But don't you worry, I have plans for a big ole' chocolate cake in the near future.
- You can certainly use any flavor cake mix you like, or your favorite recipe. I'm adding "extras" here to plump up the cake mix so that the layers are more full.
- It's pretty important that your 9" cake pans are 2" tall. Double check if you're unsure, because a lot of pans out there are only 1 1/2" tall. The batter will overflow in a pan shorter than 2", so if that's all you've got use the extra batter to make cupcakes!
- Either jimmies (the long sprinkles) or nonpareils (the little balls) will work in the cake recipe. Jimmies will give you bigger bursts of color, like Pillsbury's Funfetti® Cake, whereas nonpareils will give you smaller dots of color. Keep in mind, however, that nonpareils have the tendency to bleed like no tomorrow...so work quickly to avoid a streaky batter. I was a little too cautious in my nonpareil mixing and didn't end up with an evenly sprinkled cake :(
Anniversary Cake (Serves 16)
Two 9" confetti cake layers (recipe below)
1 cup prepared lemon curd (recipe below)
1 batch Swiss meringue buttercream (recipe below)
Slice each cake layer in half horizontally to make a total of four cake layers. Place one layer, cut side up, on a serving platter. Spread with 1/2 cup lemon curd. Top with another cake layer, cut side down. Spread 1/2 cup buttercream over this layer. Top with another cake layer, 1/2 cup lemon curd, and the final cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining buttercream. Serve cake at room temperature and refrigerate leftovers. Allow chilled cake to come back to room temperature for maximum enjoyment!
(Yields two 9" layers, each 2" thick)
1 (18.25 oz) box Duncan Hines® white cake mix
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3 egg whites
2 Tbl. vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups water
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9" round pans with 2" sides.
Combine cake mix, flour, sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Stir for a few seconds to combine. Add egg whites, oil, water, milk, melted butter, and vanilla to bowl. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine. Scrape down sides of bowl. Increase mixer speed to medium and continue beating batter for 2 minutes. Working quickly, stir in sprinkles until evenly distributed.
Divide batter between prepared pans and bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely before assembling cake.
Lemon Curd (Yield: 2 cups)
Recipe adapted from Good Life Eats
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 Tbl. lemon zest
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
8 egg yolks
8 Tbl. butter, cut into 8 pieces
Combine juice, zest, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then turn heat down to low.
Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl until smooth. Gradually whisk in about half of the lemon mixture into the yolks. (Don't add it too fast or you'll risk scrambling the egg yolks.) Pour this mixture back into the saucepan while whisking.
Continue to cook over low heat while whisking until mixture has thickened and can coat the back of a spoon, 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter 1 piece at a time.
Pour into a bowl or jar and cover the surface with plastic wrap. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for up to a week.
This recipe is an improved version of the previous Swiss meringue buttercreams posted on this blog. I've increased the amount of butter a bit to help stabilize the emulsion (many recipes call for a ratio of 3 sticks of butter for every 4 egg whites; my previous versions used only 2 sticks of butter). Also, I've simplified the process a wee bit by not changing out to the paddle attachment. Here, the whisk attachment of the stand mixer is used throughout.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 egg whites
1¼ cups sugar
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 Tbl. vanilla extract
Place the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl; whisk to combine. Place bowl over a small saucepan of gently simmering water (double boiler set-up). Heat egg white mixture to 160°F, whisking constantly. The mixture will become thin and foamy as you approach 160°F.
Pour the heated egg white mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high speed with the whisk attachment for 7-9 minutes, until stiff peaks form and mixture has cooled. The mixture MUST be cooled to room temperature before proceeding.
With the mixer running at medium speed, add the butter, 2 Tablespoons at a time. Allow the butter to incorporate before adding more. As you add butter, the appearance of the mixture will go from a fluffy meringue to a thin, cake batter-like consistency. Once all the butter has been incorporated, increase the speed to medium high and beat until an emulsion forms and the mixture has transformed into a thick & smooth icing. (How long this will take depends on the starting temperature of both the egg white mixture and the butter pieces, so be patient. Pay attention as the mixture is whipping--you'll hear a definite difference in sound when the buttercream is ready.) Add vanilla extract and beat on low speed for a minute or two to incorporate and to reduce any air bubbles.