Classic Yellow Birthday Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
When I posted the Dark Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting I mentioned that my mom and I don’t generally prefer chocolate over vanilla.
Other than the fact that it rained the entire weekend I made these cakes (meaning I had no reason to leave my kitchen!), the fact that mom and I might be vanilla girls meant I better make two cakes rather than one.
My birthday cakes growing up were always yellow cake boxed mixes with chocolate frosting. The cake was baked in a 9×13 pan and stayed there until it was consumed. It was frosted in the pan. Served in the pan. Enjoyed from the pan.
Now I’m not hating on my childhood birthday cakes but what I am commenting on is this: I remember being a child and distinctly not understanding how on earth a cake stand would work when, clearly, you don’t take the cake out of the baking dish AND only rectangle baking dishes exist.
Now I sit with more than one cake stand and a variety of cake pans for making cakes of all shapes and sizes. Let’s just say I’m teaching my mom a thing or two about birthday cakes.
The things I loved about this cake are 1) Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting and 2) Buttermilk in my cake. That’s a winning combination. This yellow cake recipe is definitely the one to keep making over and over again!
Buttermilk Birthday Cake (from smitten kitchen)
- 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (480 grams) cake flour
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup, 1/2 pound or 225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups buttermilk (475 ml), well-shaken
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans by buttering and flouring them.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla.
- Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
- At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled).
- Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.
- Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles.
- Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 minutes.
- Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting (adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 large egg whites
2 cups (4 sticks or 1 pound) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and gel food coloring, if using, and beat just until combined.
- Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes.
- If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.