I feel like crying as I write this. My oldest is turning 12 this Sunday. 12. Twelve. 1-2. If you know Ellie, you may know why I’m now officially crying. She’s a great girl. And now she’s going to be a great lady. The birthday cake below is what she has requested for her special day. It’s a great cake. It’s very feminine, unique, and refreshing–just like Ellie. She suggested it several years ago for her 9th birthday.
To be honest, it’s a bit of work. Don’t roll your eyes as you read the lengthy instructions. But I’m happy to do it a few times a year; but only for someone I really, really love. And that includes the little ladies above. Happy Birthday Ellie. You are amazing.
Perfect Party Cake aka Snow Lady Birthday Cake
2 1/4 cups flour
1 Tblsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (could use whole milk in a pinch)
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp pure lemon extract
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks butter, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I’m begging you, don’t use bottled. Please.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
As you layer you’ll need:
2/3 cup raspberry preserves (seedless is best but not essential. I’m using seed-full because I have homemade raspberry jam. homemade seed-full trumps factory made seedless any day)
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9×2-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
Cake batter: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the dry ingredients. Add the rest of milk and eggs rest of dry ingredients. Finally, mix the batter until everything is thoroughly combined. Divide batter between two prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch (a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean). Transfer cakes to cooling rack. After five minutes, unmold them and peel parchment paper off. Invert and cool to room temperature overnight or frozen up to 2 months.
Buttercream: Put the sugar and egg whites in a heat proof mixer bowl. Fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Wroking with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate-just keep beating and it will come together again. This is where I like to add the phrase–beat it into submission. Totally appropriate here. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice and vanilla. You should have a shiny, smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Set aside.
Assemble the cake. Using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer in half horizontally. Put one layer cut side up on cake plate. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with the third layer (you’ll have used up all the jam and have buttercream left over). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.