White Velvet Cake

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It’s a boy! My wife and I are excited to announce that that we are expecting a baby due in March 2017. We found out the gender right away because my wife could not wait any longer (apparently), even though I tried to convince her to keep it a surprise for a few days until my parents arrived. My wife is terrible at keeping secrets, and most of her family found out within hours of us knowing. So, the surprise was mostly for my parents/family. Almost everyone that my wife and I had spoken with about the baby thought it was a boy, so by the time we cut the cake the only surprise would have been if it was a girl.

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I kind of wanted to make this cake anyway, and I thought that it would make a nice gender reveal cake given that the filling would be easy to color. The cake was crumby but moist. It is essentially a recipe for red velvet cake except it doesn’t have any cocoa powder or red food coloring.  As a result, it has a little bit of a tangy flavor. The cake crumb made it a little bit difficult to frost, so it would be worth wrapping and refrigerating the cakes after removing them from the pans to firm up a little more.

The blue filling is cheesecake, but instead of being cooked in the oven,  it’s cooked on the stove top then chilled in the freezer. I let mine chill in the freezer a little bit too long (and may have thickened it too much on the stove), which made it a little harder to spread over the crumby cake. It tasted like cheesecake, and it is definitely an easier process to add cheesecake to a cake than the old springform pan/water bath method. However, it wasn’t really soft enough for a cake filling.

The marshmallow buttercream was better. I think that this alternative recipe for Swiss meringue buttercream is great. It’s more of a velvety frosting that isn’t as cloyingly sweet as some American buttercreams can be. This particular recipe was a little bit more sweet than previous recipes I’ve tried as powdered sugar was added. The source recipe notes that up to 3 cups can be used to taste, but I thought that the 1 cup I used was plenty. I did alter the recipe slightly to cook the egg whites to temperature at which salmonella is killed. I’m sure it would have been fine to use the egg whites from the carton, which are already pasteurized, but I wanted it to be 100% safe for my wife to eat. Also, anything with marshmallows is inevitably a sticky mess, and this was no exception until the marshmallows were adequately mixed into the butter. FYI.

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I thought this was a good cake, but I’m not sure that I would be in a hurry to bake it again. My dad thought it was pretty good, needing no convincing to join me for a slice each night. The first night of eating the cake my wife essentially ate only the cake, leaving the frosting and cheesecake completely intact. I don’t think that she’s as big a fan of the Swiss meringue buttercream. Similarly, my mom at just the cake and cheesecake, leaving the buttercream. Both of them commented that it was good, just “too rich,” which I would probably agree with. I thought the richness of the buttercream paired well with the cake flavor, though.

WHITE VELVET CAKE
Based on recipe found here.

INGREDIENTS

White Velvet Cake:
1 1/4 cups (170 g, 6 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (156 g, 5 1/2 oz.) cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups (397 g, 14 oz.) granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Cheesecake Filling:
3/4 cup (142 g, 5 oz.) granulated sugar
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. sour cream

Silky Marshmallow Buttercream:
7 oz. large marshmallows
5 oz. light corn syrup
3 oz. granulated sugar
1 tsp. water
1/4 cup egg whites (from carton)
2 cups (16 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (114 g, 4 oz.) powdered sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp. vanilla bean paste (or more extract)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position rack to middle position. Butter and flour three 8″ cake pans. Line the bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper, then butter and flour the parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter, oil, and sugar on medium-high speed for two minutes.
  4. Add the eggs one-at-a-time, beating until incorporated.
  5. Add buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix to blend.
  6. Reduce mixer to low, add dry ingredients, then beat for one minute.
  7. Divide batter evenly among the cake pans. Bake 25-30 minutes (mine took ~35 minutes with soaked cake strips), or until cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Let the cakes cool 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the cakes. Flip cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely (~2 hours) and remove parchment paper.
  9. For the filling: In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, and salt, then whisk in the eggs.
  10. Place cream cheese in medium bowl, then add egg mixture 1/3 at-a-time, whisking after each addition.
  11. Whisk in the vanilla and sour cream
  12. Pour into top of a double boiler over simmering water. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat until mixture is very thick (like peanut butter, ~10 minutes), scraping corners and edges frequently. Remove from heat.
  13. Pour into a cake pan, cover surface directly with plastic wrap, and place in freezer for 30 minutes.
  14. For the frosting: In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, whisk together marshmallows, corn syrup, sugar, water, and egg whites until the mixture reaches 160 degrees.
  15. Pour mixture into a shallow bowl/pan and chill in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  16. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed for two minutes.
  17. Add the cooled marshmallow/egg mixture in two additions, beating for one minute on medium speed after each addition.
  18. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat to combine.
  19. Frost and decorate the cakes as desired.
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