Hello Cupboard Followers!
It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, but as it is this time of year, life has been a little bit crazy. After the Halloween soiree, family coming into town, house sitting, and what feels like the 150 birthdays that were celebrated lately, things have finally started slow down. And I have decided to welcome this little breather with open arms, because in just a few days we have Thanksgiving, followed by all the other hustle and bustle brought by Christmas and New Years.
Speaking of those back to back birthdays, I thought I’d share with you a very special cake that I made for a very special Mom. So you see, baking a cake for her is always a little daunting. When it comes to anything produced in a kitchen, she is the biggest critic (especially with me!). And everything else about her birthday is always so well done. The dinners, the décor, the friends and the family….I would just die if my cake to end the night was sub par.
And this year was no exception. A special thank you to my wonderful friend Lena, who so graciously helped get us get set up at the always outstanding Mission Ranch in Carmel. That was where Mom wanted to go, and I am so glad we did! We had the best time….great music, joyful conversation, plenty of boozy beverages, and delectable food. Next time any of you go, or if you haven’t been already, I highly recommend the Prime Rib. Seriously mouth watering! And if you don’t believe me, believe the 10 people at our table who ordered it and didn’t have a lick left on their plate. YUM!!
So how do you follow that? Well, this year I thought to keep it simple. Let’s leave the frill and the fuss to the dinners and cocktails and leave the cake with only one requirement. Tasty. My mom is a lover of all things almond, so this year I put together a simple white cake, infused with almond and vanilla bean. Because Vanilla bean really is vanilla on steroids. Don’t you just love when you take a bite of something and see those little flecks of flavor? It’s almost reassuring you that your sweet treat was made with best and you only deserve the best, right? Ok enough of the vanilla. So, keeping the cake simple, I went for a naked look. Not that naked! Get your mind out of the gutter! I am talking about a naked cake. You know, the cakes that need not an outer layer of buttercream, because they’re just so darn yummy on their own? And something about the barely there frosting is so refreshing. And we can feel a little less guilty about indulging in a cake with a bit less butter and sugar. Seconds anyone? Needless to say, this cake exceeded my expectations, and more importantly, garnered an approving smile from my mother. Success!
White Almond Cake
- 2 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix (I used the Pillsbury Purely Simple-No preservative and no bleached flour, so it’s A-ok with me!)
- 2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 2/3 cups water
- 2 cups sour cream
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 2 vanilla bean pods
- 8 egg whites
- Vanilla Almond Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour 4 round cake pans.
- Stir together the white cake mix, flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until well mixed.
- Slice vanilla pods down the middle, and scrape clean the insides with a knife. Add in with water, sour cream, vegetable oil, almond extract, and egg whites, and beat with an electric mix on low until all the ingredients are mixed and moistened but some lumps still remain, 4 minutes.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake in the preheated oven until the top is a light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool before frosting.
- Spread about a half cup, or more, of frosting in between each layer.
- Use remaining frosting the coat the outside of that cake, just so. You want to to able to see the layers, so lightly frost. Make sure the buttercream and cake layers are even with each other on all sides
*Disclaimer, I only used 3 out of 4 of the cakes for this recipe. The fourth, I froze to use for a later time….By all means, use the 4th cake. I just felt it would be too tall for what I needed.
Vanilla Almond Buttercream
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 vanilla beans
- 2 tablespoons milk
- In medium bowl, mix powdered sugar and butter with spoon or electric mixer on low speed. Stir in vanilla and milk.
- If frosting is too thick, beat in more milk, a few drops at a time. If frosting becomes too thin, beat in a small amount of powdered sugar.