Monday, March 1, 2010

Raspberry Birthday Cake

For my 22nd birthday I wanted to throw myself a party and bake lots of scrumptious desserts, gather my friends together and really start the next year of my life off in an exciting fashion. Well, on Saturday I did just that. And it was great. The dessert I was the most proud of was my birthday cake: a raspberry cake with Swiss buttercream frosting. Delicious! And fortunately for me (and unfortunately for my waistline) I have half a cake waiting to be eaten in the fridge.

I baked this cake a week in advance and froze it in layers wrapped in ridiculous amounts of saran wrap - think four layers of saran wrap per layer of cake. Yikes! Once it thawed a little bit I frosted it and it tasted fantastic and moist. I encourage you to make this cake (or try making some cupcakes? I'm sure those would be delicious as well.) and eat it in celebration of whatever you choose.

Raspberry Birthday Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

4 1/2 cups cake flour*
3 cups sugar
5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups pureed frozen raspberries (I used a whole bag, 1 pound)
8 egg whites
2/3 cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pans. Line with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and raspberry puree and mix to blend the ingredients. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes; the batter will resemble raspberry ice cream at this point.
3. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg whites and milk to blend. Add the whites to the batter in two or three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and mixing only to incorporate after each addition. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.
4. Bake the cakes for 30 to 34 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the layers to cool in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes. Invert and turn out onto wire racks and peel off the paper liners. Let stand until completely cooled before assembling the cake, at least an hour. Once they've cooled, you can also freeze your layers** for later use.

Swiss Buttercream
From Smitten Kitchen

Makes enough for a 9-inch cake (plus filling, or some to spare)

1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
26 tablespoons butter, softened (3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Whisk egg whites and sugar together in a big metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk occasionally until you can’t feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.
2. Transfer mixture into the mixer and whip until it turns white and about doubles in size. (Here’s a tip: when you transfer to the mixer, make sure you wipe the condensation off the bottom of the bowl so that no water gets into the egg whites. This can keep them from whipping up properly.)
3. Add the vanilla.
4. Finally, add the butter a stick at a time and whip! It will take a while to come together. Mine took about 7 minutes of serious whipping. I put it in the freezer for a little bit (mine was actually in too long) five to ten minutes should do it.

Assembling The Cake

Cake Board (corrugated cardboard piece that is 2 inches larger than finished cake, so that there is a one inch border all the way around)
Parchment Paper or Waxed Paper
Table Knife or ideally an Icing Knife

Note: If you've frozen the cake, let it thaw, unwrapped, for about an hour before attempting to frost it. If you haven't frozen the cake, Smitten Kitchen suggests sticking it in the fridge for 20 minutes to make it a bit easier to work with.

1. Put the first layer on the center of a cake board. Tuck four 3-4 inch wide pieces of parchment or waxed paper under the bottom layer to protect the cake board from any mess that might result during frosting. When you're done frosting the cake, simply pull out the pieces and Tada! nice clean cake board.
2. Spread 1/2 to 2/3 cup of frosting over the entire layer, all the way to the edges. Add the 2nd layer on top and repeat. Add the top layer and frost the top and the sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting, this is called the crumb coat. Place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Remove the cake from the fridge and use the remaining frosting to finish the top and sides. Swiss Buttercream seems to smooth out pretty well, and my friend Mike complimented me on the plaster type texture on the cake - really, it was a compliment because that is exactly what it looked like, a beautifully plastered wall (that doesn't sound pretty at all, but look at the pictures and judge for yourself).
4. Pull the parchment or waxed paper out from the sides of the cake and add decorative berries or piping around the edge should you choose to do so. Voila! Prepare for your friends to be impressed.

*Okay, Cake Flour: It comes in a box people. When you're in the store looking for it for a ridiculously long time and you're sure it doesn't exist and pastry flour must be an acceptable substitute (it's not) don't give up (as I did) it is there! It's usually in a box and has pictures of cake on it, not flour. If you can't find it you can use this as a substitute, as I did, and it will work just fine.

**If you should choose to freeze the cake here are my suggestions that I gleaned from all over the Internet.
- Wrap in triple layers of plastic wrap so as to avoid freezer burn.
- I slid my finished cake layers onto cake boards and then wrapped them, attaching the cakes to the board and thus making them much sturdier and easier to move/wrap. Upon further research I found that some people don't put their cakes on boards - fine. If your cake can support itself (not this one) then don't put it on a board, you can just use boards to separate the layers in the freezer to keep cakes from sagging.
- Let the cake sit out of the freezer for about 15 minutes before unwrapping them. Let them sit an additional 30 - 45 minutes before beginning to frost.


  1. This looks delicious. I would like to request it for my 23rd birthday. ALSO. What other desserts did you serve at this party?!?

  2. NAT, what a gorgeous looking cake AND a fabulous idea!
    I had just been thinking about my own upcoming birthday and wanting to do something similar. Right now, however, I'm just wishing for a slice oh you're particular cake!

  3. I baked delicious chocolate whoopie pies with canoli cream filling which were actually to die for. Chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, shortbread cookies and palmiers. And I also baked scrumptious cupcakes which I think will be the topic of my next post.

    And for both of you, I will send things out via the mail, so if you want your very own birthday cake maybe that can be arranged! haha.