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How to Make the Perfect Vanilla Birthday Cake Your Guests Will Love


Birthday Cake


Birthday Cake

Everyone needs a simple birthday cake recipe up their sleeve that is both delicious and easy to make. In this post, I will be sharing my simple and quick to whip up birthday cake that no one could resist. :)


The tips to making this birthday cake delicious is to invest in good quality vanilla bean and butter. I am using heilala vanilla pods for this recipe and Australian Western Star unsalted butter.



ITALIAN BUTTERCREAM


There are several types of buttercream techniques available, and the one that I often opt for is the Italian Buttercream. It does take an extra step compared to the straight buttercream made by simply whipping butter and sugar together, but Italian buttercream gives a much smoother texture.


When making Italian Buttercream, you will need to cook sugar syrup to a firm ball stage to approximately 118C before adding them into a whipping meringue and then adding in the butter as the last stage.



TIPS AND TRICKS TO ITALIAN BUTTERCREAM


The trick to a succesasful Italian Buttercream is to ensure that the temperature of all ingredients are controlled.


Egg whites should be at room temperature when whisked. Room temperature egg whites will ensure that the sugar does not seize when being added. Seizing of the sugar syrup occurs when they start to set in contact with cold egg whites. The ideal temperature for egg whites are between 18 -22C or in other words, not cool to touch.

Therefore, if you know you will be making your buttercream, it is best to remove the eggs from the fridge a few hours ahead.


Butter used for the buttercream should also be controlled. The ideal texture of the butter should be cold but pliable. If the butter is too cold, i.e: the butter is taken straight out from the fridge, it will make it hard for the butter to incorporate into the meringue and has a tendency of causing the buttercream to split. On the other hand, if the butter is too warm, i.e: if you try to squeeze the butter between your fingers, it feels to soft and leaves a grease, the butter will soften too quickly and can cause the buttercream to become too runny or "soapy".


To test if the butter is a good consistency, press a cube between two fingers. The butter should be soft enough to pinch and is not hard but is not too soft that it starts to leave a grease on your fingers.



HOW TO GET RID OF AIR POCKETS IN BUTTERCREAM

The reason you would often get air pocket in the buttercream is from the whipping of the butter and egg whites as it incorporates air during the mixing. As soon as all the butter has been added into the meringue and it starts to come to a thick buttercream consistency, it is best to change to a 'paddle' attachment and continue to whip the buttercream on low speed. The paddle attachment will press the buttercream against the bowl and get rid of the large air pockets.


Note that you will have to be careful to not over whip the buttercream as this can cause it for split eventually. Therefore go nice and slow.


Another way to get rid of air pocket in the buttercream is to use a hand spatula and spread them against the side of the bowl until they seem smooth.



HOW TO ACHIEVE A SMOOTH FINISH FOR ITALIAN BUTTERCREAM

If you are very particular and wants to have a really smooth finish to the buttercream, the trick is to warm up your cake scrape or spatula with really hot water, wipe off any excess water and run it along the buttercream before putting them in the fridge to chill.



TROUBLESHOOTING BUTTERCREAM

There are two things that can often go wrong when preparing the buttercream.


Splitting of the buttercream

Splitting of the buttercream occurs when temperature of the ingredients are not cotrolled. Example could be such as butter that are too cold, or the egg whites are not at room temperature.


A split buttercream will look really grainy and not very appealing. To remedy a split buttercream, all you need to do is to heat up the bowl slightly with a heat gun or with a hairdryer while whisking, being careful not to melt the butter but simply to bring the ingredients back to room temperature. Giving enough patience, the buttercream should come back together to a desired smooth consistency.


Buttercream are runny

Runny buttercream is an indication that the meringue is too warm when the butter is added. If the meringue is too warm, it can melt the butter and cause the buttercream to become 'soapy'.


To remedy a runny buttercream, simply place them into the fridge to cool down for 15 to 20 minutes and then whisking it again. This should do the trick.





Birthday Cake


RECIPE


VANILLA CAKE

Total yield: 1700g 1,340g


Makes 3 x 16cm cake (425g batter each)


INGREDIENTS

QUANTITY

Unsalted Butter

190g

Caster Sugar

340g

Vanilla Bean Paste

15g

Whole Eggs

170g

Fine Salt

5g

Plain Flour

340g

Baking Powder

10g

Full Cream Milk

270g



VANILLA BUTTERCREAM

INGREDIENTS

QUANTITY

Caster Sugar

250g

Water

60g

Egg Whites - Room Temperature

150g

Cream of tartar

pinch

Unsalted Butter

400g

Vanilla Bean Paste

15g / 3 pods

Fine Salt

3 g




 

Birthday Cake

 

METHOD

To make the Vanilla Birthday Cake...


FOR THE VANILLA CAKE

  1. Line 3 x 16cm cake rings with parchment papers on the base and around the sides and secure the base with some aluminium foil. Set aside ready to use.

  2. Pre heat the oven to 175C.

  3. Cream the cold but pliable butter, vanilla bean paste and sugar in a stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddel attachment until light and fluffy.

  4. Add in the room temperature eggs a little at a time into the butter mixture and continue to beat while scraping down the bowl constantly until all the eggs are incorporated.

  5. Add in a few tablespoon of the plain flour combined with the baking powder, alternating bet

  6. Once a smooth batter is achieved, divide the cake batter into 3 x 16cm cake rings with approximately 425g per ring that had previously lined with parchment papers.

  7. Bake in the pre heated oven for 40 minutes or when tested with a skewer, it comes out clean.



FOR THE ITALIAN BUTTERCREAM

  1. Cut the butter to roughly around 3 - 4 cm cubes and keep at room temperature but still cold. The butter should be between 15 - 18C.

  2. Place the room temperature eggs in clean mixer bowl and add in 1/4 teaspoon of crem of tartar.

  3. Place the water in a clean deep saucepan then add in the sugar. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil and continue to boil until it reaches 110C.

  4. Once it reaches 110 C, start whisking the egg whites on medium speed until it reaches medium peak (ensure that there is no liquid egg whites and the meringue is completely foamed).

  5. Continue to cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 118C.

  6. Reduce the speed on the mixer to low then gradually stream in the hot syrup into the meringue. Once all the sugar syrup has been added, increase the speed to high speed and continue to whisk until it cools down to 25C.

  7. Add in the salt, then the cold but pliable butter gradually and continue to whisk. As soon as all the butter are added, the mixture should start to thicken to a buttercream consistency.

  8. Change into a paddle attachment and mix the buttercream on low speed to get rid of the air pockets. Depending on how much air you have incorporated, the mixing time can range grom 10 minutes more or less.


ASSEMBLY

  1. Trim the top of all vanilla cake to get a flat surface.

  2. Transfer the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain tip.

  3. Place the first cake onto a cake board, pipe a spiral of buttercream on top then smooth out with an offset spatula.

  4. Place the second vanilla cake on top of the butter cream and continue with step 3 then place the last vanilla cake on top.

  5. Top with more buttercream on the top and side of the cake and start to crumb coat the cake.

  6. Place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to set the buttercream slightly then finish masking with the remainder of the buttercream, reserving enough to pipe rosette on top.

  7. Once you have smoothed out the buttercream, pipe 8 rosette on top and decorate the sides with hundreds and thousands.

  8. Chill the fridge for atleast 2 hours to harden the buttercream slightly before cutting and serving.














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