A few weeks ago I agreed to make a cake to celebrate my cousin going off to college for the first time. She had worked very hard in high school and landed an amazing scholarship to go to Shippensburg University. I wanted to give her a good send off since we were all so proud and assured her that I would make her an awesome cake to celebrate.
I recently watched and episode of Barefoot Contessa in which she made a hot pink, 3 tiered birthday cake and I wanted the chance to try out that recipe. From the beginning, I decided that I would use the colors of Shippensburg University, red and dark blue, instead of the hot pink the recipe called for.
I pulled the recipe off of Foodnetwork.com and read the reviews. Overall, the cake flavor got positive reviews but about half of the comments said something about the cake being dry. Since I had never made this recipe before and only half the comments mentioned the cake being dry I decided to make the cake according to the recipe and see for myself.
I modified the cake tiers according to the size of pans I had on hand. I made two 9 inch cakes and one 6 inch cake from the batter. My plan was to have a large and high bottom tier and a smaller top tier. Butter, flour and line the pans with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes. This will feel like a really long time but you will see the mixture get really fluffy, light and sparkly.
Add the eggs two at a time and mix well. Mix in the sour cream, lemon zest and vanilla.
In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix just until combined, be careful not to over-mix it can make the cake tough instead of light.
Pour the batter into the prepared baking pans and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
While the cakes are cooling, out of the pans, mix up the icing. I like this icing recipe, it has good flavor and it makes a lot so you don’t have to worry about having enough for the sides of the cake.
Once the icing is mixed, add in your color of choice. I divided up the icing and mixed up red, blue and left some white for decoration.
“Red” more very hot pink.
Now, frost that baby! Slide wax paper under the bottom cake layer as you ice ice it. This will protect the plate from getting icing all over it and looking like a mess. Once you’re finished frosting, simply pull out the wax paper. This also means you don’t have to be so neat and careful!
Frost the bottom layers.
Then cut the 6 inch cake in half horizontally and icing those layers.
Use a piping bag to decorate. Here is my finished product:
In my head it looked much more professional, clearly I need to work on my cake decorating skillz. But now for the most important part, taste. The cake tasted great but unfortunately, I agree with the comments that it was dry. Next time I will add either more sour cream or some buttermilk and see if that helps. The lemon zest in the cake was fantastic, it really balanced out the sweetness of the icing and made it possible to eat more than three bites of cake without your teeth hurting.
I can’t wait for another excuse to try this recipe out again.
Sidenote: The blue icing was a little…off putting, to say the least. If I were doing it again, I would have iced the cake in white and added blue and red accents, blue food just isn’t a good thing. Lesson learned.
Here’s the recipe from Foodnetwork.com:
For the cake:
- 18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups sugar
- 6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 lemon, zested
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
For the frosting:
- 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 9 tablespoons milk
- 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 14 drops pink food coloring (rose petal shade)
- Pink and white candy, for decorating
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan, a 6-inch cake pan, and a 3-inch cake pan.
To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well.Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until smooth. Finish mixing by hand to be sure the batter is well mixed. Proportionately divide the batter between the 3 cake pans. Smooth the tops with aspatula, and bake as follows: the 9-inch pan for 45 minutes, the 6-inch pan for 35 to 40 minutes and the 3-inch pan for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean in each cake. Cool in the pans to room temperature.
For the frosting, cream the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened. Add the food coloring and turn the mixer off. Using a spatula, fully incorporate the color into the frosting.
Frost each cake separately, saving some frosting for decoration. Chill the cakes before stacking.
Place the 9-inch cake on a plate. Center the 6-inch cake on top of the 9-inch cake. Center the 3-inch cake on top of the 6-inch cake.
For the decoration, pipe or spoon the remaining frosting around the base of each cake and around the top edge of the 3-inch cake. Finish decorating with the pieces of candy.