Putting an End to My Whisk-Induced Baker’s Arm-itis (technical term)

Well guess what. Alex and I received an early wedding gift this weekend. If you remember this or this post, you will likely be able to guess what it is… It was, naturally, the very first thing I registered for…It starts with ‘m’ and rhymes with “fixer…”

Well, okay it’s a stand mixer! [cue Handel’s Hallelujah chorus]

Look at it all yellow and raring to go. I’ve been waiting for this day for quite some time. All summer I scoured Craigslist with little to no success looking for someone–anyone selling a stand mixer. I befriended my whisks (still my favorite non-electric tool in the kitchen) and forged ahead with things like meringues and water-bath cakes and even buttercream frosting. But after flipping through a Dean and Deluca catalog, I found the cake that I would (attempt to) make upon receiving (if ever) the kitchen appliance I most lusted for. I tore the page out of the catalog and have had it hanging in my cube at work for almost two months now. It’s a vanilla cake sandwiched together with a raspberry-rose buttercream and covered with a white chocolate buttercream and white chocolate shavings. Decadent, right? Really setting the bar high for my newest kitchen acquisition.

I’ll be watching you closely, young grasshopper. Forget not these are the hands forearms that have successfully whipped together buttercream even without your eager assistance [pounds fist in palm a couple times for dramatic effect]

Young Sir Mix-a-lot should be just fine, though: considering I’ve never attempted a cake of this…magnitude…before, I could use all the help I could get. Which is why I was especially grateful to Smitten Kitchen for posting this useful guide for layer cake making.

Things started out just fine. I prepped my cake pans (8 inch-diameter ones borrowed from my mom; does anyone still bake in 8″ rounds anymore?) and began measuring out my ingredients when goshdangitfreakonaleashareyoukiddingmeseriously?!? I discovered I had run out of sugar and was about 1/3 cup short (plus an additional cup I would need for the frosting). For a brief minute I contemplated being totally trite and walking over to my neighbor’s house (in my apron and all) to ask to borrow 2 cups of sugar. Instead, with my pent-up frustration, I did five handstand pushups (in my apron and all) and then drove off to the nearest grocery store to retrieve the sugar. Apparently I’m not as good at eyeballing my pantry stash as I thought hoped I was. People, make sure you have everything you need before you start!

Ahem. So. Approximately 20 minutes later I was back and ready to go again. It actually worked out better because it gave my room-temperature butter more time to become room-temperature. Ingredients mixed, bowl scraped down numerous times, and batter poured into three 8″ round cake pans (plus one round baking dish because the recipe I used prepared enough for three 9″ round pans; so there was extra and I thought it would make a cute mini-cake) and I was ready for action. Why yes, I did give my stand mixer a few affectionate pats and “that’ll do, pig”s in my best Irish Australian accent (psst- did you know Babe was an Australian production? Was I the only child deluded into thinking it was somewhere in the United Kingdom?)

Once the cake was baked and I had whipped up a batch of buttercream frosting, I set about assembling the cake. Using a large serrated knife, I tried to level off the tops of each layer so that they would lie flat against each other with the help of the raspberry-rose buttercream. I also did a “base layer” of icing – kind of like the base coat when you get your fingernails painted or the layer of primer you add to the walls before painting. It was about this time that I decided that masons – you know, bricklayers – would be really really good at frosting a cake.

I cut up some white chocolate bars to use for decorating the cake while the base layers set in the fridge for a few minutes.

Somehow I managed to frost the cake – it was my first time so I kind of trial-and-errored it using my new offset spatula and ended up with this:

Did you notice that this was the first food for which I’ve improvised a photo shoot (by covering a section of our couch with a blue blanket)? Would it be totally ludicrous to say that this was such a positive experience I’d entertain the idea of baking my own wedding cake? Wait for it…wait for it…didya hear it? That was my mom saying “WHAT?!? No, Jessalyn, I don’t think so.”

Okay, so maybe the rehearsal dinner cake. Does one serve cake at a rehearsal dinner?

Anyway, what I’m trying to say as my sugar coma sets in, is that I am so excited to be the new owner of a great stand mixer and am looking forward to being unintimidated by whatever mix-intensive things I might need or want to create. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Raspberry-Rose and White Chocolate Swiss Buttercream Frostings (inspired by Dean & Deluca and with help from cake recipe at Smitten Kitchen, frosting adapted from Smitten Kitchen and from Sandra Holl and Trish Newcomb in Bon Appetit)

*Note: This is going to take a while to explain. Thank you for your patience. Email me if you have questions.*

Get your butter out now and let it come to room temperature.

For the cake…

1. Prep your 9″ round cake pans with butter and flour or parchment paper or a combination of both. Preheat oven to 310F (lower temps supposedly help the cakes to rise more evenly).

– 3 3/4 cup cake flour
– 2.5 cups sugar
– 1 tablespoon + 2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
2. Mix together.

– 2.5 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
– 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
3. Add to your dry ingredients and mix to combine. Looking for a light and fluffy texture.

– 5 eggs + 2 egg yolks
– 2.5 teaspoons good vanilla extract
– 1/3 cup buttermilk
4. Whisk to combine, then add 1/3 at a time to your batter and mix to combine.

5. Divide the batter between your cake pans and bake about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert and cool on racks.

*Once cool, flash freeze the cakes by placing them in the freezer – cookie rack and all – or triple wrap them in plastic and freeze until needed.

For the frosting…

– 10 oz. frozen raspberries
– 1/2 cup sugar
1. Bring to a boil in a small saucepan until raspberries have melted. Strain to separate seeds from raspberry juice. Set aside in fridge until needed.

– 4 egg whites
– 1 cup sugar
2. Whisk together in a metal bowl over gently simmering water. Continue doing so until you can no longer feel the grains of sugar with your fingers or the mixture has reached 140F.

3. Pour egg white mixture into (clean) bowl of mixer and whip until approximately doubled in size and almost holding stiff peaks.

4. At this point, because I wanted to include two different buttercreams, I divided the egg white mixture. I scooped out approximately 1/3 of it and put it in a clean bowl to the side.

I decided to make the white chocolate buttercream first…
– 5-6 oz. white chocolate
– splash of whole milk
5. Microwave for intervals of 30 seconds (probably only need to do it twice) and stir to melt the chocolate. Set aside.

– 17 tablespoons European style butter (~84% butterfat), sliced into tablespoon-size pieces
6. With mixer going, add butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time. At first this seems counterintuitive because it makes the mixture all coarse and strange-textured:

…but don’t worry. Oh, and once all the butter had been added, I switched to the paddle attachment on the mixer.

7. Let the mixer whip up the frosting for 10-15 minutes, adding the melted white chocolate for the last 5 minutes or so. Scoop the bowl clean and set the white chocolate buttercream aside.

– about 1/2 cup of your raspberry puree juice
– a scant 1/2 teaspoon rose water
– 9 tablespoons European style butter
8. Use the reserved batch of beaten egg whites to make the raspberry rose buttercream in a similar manner as above. Add the rose water prior to beating in the butter. As I suspected, its aroma is quite strong so definitely do not go overboard with it. Add the raspberry juice at the end.


There’s really no easy way for me to explain this, nor do I have the necessary cake baker’s slang at my disposal, so I recommend (again) that you read Smitten Kitchen’s cake assemblage advice here. I can tell you that I only used an offset spatula – none of those crazy cake-smoothing tools. I can also tell you that I basically pressed handfuls of the white chocolate shavings all around the sides of the cake (looks pretty fancy for such a simple technique, right?) Perhaps on my second or third cake I’ll be better able to tell you what I’m doing.

All told, this cake took me about 4 hours to make. But it’s worth it once in a while, don’t you think? Ta ta for now, good Sir Mix-a-lot; I’m sure I’ll see you again soon. And thank you for saving this fair maiden’s arm.


3 thoughts on “Putting an End to My Whisk-Induced Baker’s Arm-itis (technical term)

  1. Babygirl says:

    I LOVE the yellow Kitchenaid and this cake looks AMAZING! Really great article

  2. Alan says:

    It was delish, Jess. Thank you!! ; )

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: