Today is my friend Andrea’s birthday! (Happy Birthday!). Our group of friends celebrated at our weekly Sunday Night Dinner, and I made a birthday cake. I used to make birthday cupcakes, but I decided that an actual cake has a more celebratory feel. I also think a cake is easier to frost and transport than cupcakes.
Since I am the self appointed birthday cake baker in the group, I keep tabs on everyone’s favorite cake flavors and frostings. Andrea’s favorite cake is Vanilla with Vanilla Frosting, with nonpareils on top – she is quite specific. This year’s cake was a very moist sponge cake with a light whipped frosting.
I used a 9×13 baking pan and made a rectangular cake, just because I wanted to mix things up a little. The cake baked very quickly, and was done after only 20 minutes. You could also make this cake using round cake pans, but it might take slightly longer to bake. The cake recipe is adapted from the Joy of Baking.
For the Cake:
3/4 cup Cake Flour (not self-rising)*
1 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
3 tablespoons Milk
2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Large Eggs
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
3 Egg Whites, at room temperature
*A note about Cake Flour: it is 27 times finer than all purpose flour. You need to use cake flour to make a sponge cake – it is the lightness of the flour that makes the cake spongy.
Line your cake pan with parchment paper. Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, combine the cake flour, baking soda, and salt.
Combine the milk and butter in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until the butter has melted.
Use a mixer to combine the 2 whole eggs and 1/2 cup sugar. Beat on medium speed until thick and foamy. This will take about 3-4 minutes. Then add the vanilla and beat for another minute.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks begin to form. Then slowly add 1/4 cup sugar. Continue beating the egg whites until medium peaks form.
Add half of the whipped egg whites to the egg and sugar mixture. Fold together. Then fold in the rest of the egg whites. *It is important to you fold everything together. If you stir the ingredients together the batter will loose the fluffiness from the egg whites.
Add half of the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Fold together. Then add fold in the rest of the flour mixture.
Add the butter and milk mixture to the batter. Fold together.
Pour into the cake pan – on top of the parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
For the Frosting
1 cup Whipping Cream
1 tablespoon Vanilla
3/4 cup Powdered Sugar
Combine the whipping cream and vanilla. Beat with a mixer on medium speed until thick. This will take about 4 minutes.
Slowly add the powdered sugar. Beat together.
Place a piece of parchment paper down on a work surface. You need to do this because the cake is so moist it will fall apart in your hands otherwise. Run a butter knife around the pan. Flip the pan over, on top of the parchment.
Peel back the parchment on the bottom of the cake and use it to measure where to cut the cake in half. Use a serrated knife to cut the cake in half.
Place one half of the cake on a platter. Spread a generous amount of frosting evenly across the cake. Then top with the second layer of cake. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle nonpareils over.
Keep refrigerated until you are ready to serve. Use a serrated knife to slice.
Here is a link to the Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting I made Andrea last year.