Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kiddie Train Cake

So this was my first serious attempt at decorating a cake in some other manner than just doing the two layers with frosting on the sides and in the middle. I have one word for anyone who wants to do cake decorating, practice. I look at the very talented crew on Ace of Cakes and the difference between them and me is that they do that all day everyday. Granted there is some serious artistry and talent that goes into their cakes but practice is what separates the men from the boys when it comes to most cake decorating.

One of my pet peeves with elaborately decorated cakes is taste. I hate it when I see a beautiful cake, take a bite and want to gag. Dry cake with no pop in the taste is so not cool. Of course the recipe for this cake came from the folks at Cook's Illustrated because you know I will always do what they say. I did modify their recipe a bit because I was facing somewhat of a sugar shortage and I love the taste of sour cream in a cake and I had to add it. Let me say that the cake itself was amazing but extra special mention definitely goes to the buttercream icing that gave new meaning to icing on the cake. This recipe, which I was skeptical of because it contains four eggs, is truly the apex of buttercream frosting; buttery, rich and not overly sweet as you will find in the supermarket pre-made tubs.

One final note, yes, my son flipped when I presented the cake to him for his 4th birthday and I would definitely recommend this for little tikes everywhere on their birthday. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from "The Next Best Recipe", from the Editors of Cook's Illustrated:

Yellow Layer Cake (Makes enough for one train mold or two layers)

1 3/4 cup plain cake flour, sifted
4 large eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

1 recipe vanilla buttercream frosting, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray train cake mold or two 9-inch cake pans with Baking PAM.

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs in one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each egg and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the milk, sour cream and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients and mix together until just combined. Mix the batter with a rubber spatula until fully combined.

Divide the batter equally into the two cake pans or pour all into the train mold. If using the cake pans, bake for 20-25 minutes. If using the train mold, bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is light brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before removing from the pan. Invert the cake onto a large cutting board for frosting if using the train mold.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:

4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) salted butter at room temperature

Combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt in a double boiler over simmering water. Whisk mixture gently and constantly until it is thin and foamy and about 160 degrees.

Beat the egg mixture with a paddle attachment at medium-high speed until light, airy and cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter one stick at a time until fully incorporated. Beat at high speed until all lumps have been eliminated and mixture is light and fluffy. Buttercream can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days.

1 comment:

  1. Very cute. Creative way to compensate for the sugar while ramping up the taste!!