Guess what? Rayna Takes the Cake officially turns 2 years old today! If you want to see some really, um, interesting food photography (these, this, or those) and read more about my life after freshman year in high school you can head on back to the beginnings. It’s crazy to think that I’ve already had RTTC for 2 entire years, because when you are in high school, that’s practically an eternity. I’ve had so much fun baking and taking pictures and sharing recipes with you guys and I can’t wait to continue for many years to come!
I’m still in Canada and I’m just loving it. The people that I’ve met here are so amazing that I don’t want to even think about leaving! I’ll be back in the states on Sunday though, but I won’t be in the kitchen baking. Instead, I’ll be doing more music programs, but this time in New York City, which should be a blast. Not to mention that one of my great friends is joining me. I think I did a pretty good job planning out my summer, don’t you think?
In order to celebrate RTTC turning 2 years old, I knew I needed to make something spectacular. While I could have made something more culinar-ily (that is clearly a word) complex, layer cakes just have a special meaning that shouts celebration. I’ve made some layer cakes in the past, and clearly RTTC turning 2 called for another one. After making one of Sweetapolita’s incredible cakes for my brother’s birthday last year, I knew exactly where to go to find a delicious layer cake that would fit the bill for such an amazing occasion.
You start out with a simple vanilla bean cake recipe, and the amazing black dots of true vanilla bean are what bring it all together, and something that vanilla extract can’t exactly replace. Then, I made a latte Swiss meringue buttercream, using espresso powder and some cinnamon. I was especially proud because this was my first SMBC, and now I understand why it’s so popular. I’ll never need copious amounts of powdered sugar again! I filled one layer and the outside with SMBC, but then I took some Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter (so incredible) and heated it with some soymilk because why not. Finally, I just melted some chocolate (I probably should have made a ganache, though) and spread it on top to literally top it off. While I would recommend making this for a crowd, but I understand if you want it all to yourself. Enjoy!
Vanilla Bean Latte Layer Cake
- 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks)(341 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2-2/3 cups (540 g) granulated sugar
- 9 (275 g) egg whites, at room temperature
- 4-1/2 cups (570 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons (22 g) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (6 g) salt
- 2 cups (480 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean, split & scraped
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 6 large egg whites (180 g)
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks)(340 g) unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean, split & scraped or 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla bean paste
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) instant espresso powder (or to taste) dissolved into 1 teaspoon (5 ml) boiling water
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 g) cinnamon (or to taste)
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter three 8″ x 2″ round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, butter paper and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, about 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the egg whites gradually, mixing until fully incorporated.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Mix vanilla extract and vanilla paste (or contents of vanilla bean) into buttermilk. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into creamed mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated or finish by hand gently.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan on a digital kitchen scale to ensure even layers. Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake for about 30 minutes, rotating once after 20 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes clean. Try not to over-bake.
- Let pans cool on wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.
- Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
- With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don’t begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.
- Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add espresso mixture, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
- Place cooled cake layer on cake pedestal, or cake board, face-up. Spread 1 cup of buttercream on top using a small offset palette knife, leaving narrow border along outside edge.
- Gently place 2nd cake layer on top, and be sure to center it with bottom layer. Apply another 1 cup of buttercream and spread as you did the first layer.
- Gently place final cake layer on top, face-down (so the clean bottom side is facing up). Apply a final layer of buttercream.
- Fill a pastry bag fitted with decorative tip (I used Ateco #887), and pipe desired designs on cake to trim and decorate. Sprinkle sliced cake servings with cinnamon, and garnish with espresso beans (optional).
replacement addition to your morning cup of java.