What’s up my lovelies? I have exciting things for you today!
My latest cake was this 21-layered Pink Funfetti Cake with Marshmallow Cheesecake Buttercream, decorated to honor everybody’s favorite kawaii character: Hello Kitty!! It is a towering sprinkle-laden explosion of whimsy, and I am pretty excited about how it came out! I took a bunch of video too, and will post about it when I launch my first proper YouTube tutorial this weekend!
I wanted to try a couple new techniques with this cake, building off the first version that I made for a friend last week, and across the board I am blown away by how well they worked. Here’s a quick outline so that you may learn from my struggles:
1. No More Flouring the Pan: I noticed that a lot of my cakes were pulling away from the edges of the pan as they baked, and had a very thick, dark crust that was sometimes hard to cut away from the sides. I was losing a good deal of cake to trimming, given that the sides of my cakes were often sloping inward. I poked around online and saw that some suggest omitting flour when you prep your pan because it can cause that crust, and keep the cake from staying adhered to the sides of the pan for an even cake. I used pan spray to coat the bottom of my cake pans, added a parchment paper round, and then sprayed on top of that and maybe halfway up the sides of each pan. It worked beautifully. Each cake cooled in the pan, and when I used a butterknife to release them they popped out with a perfect, straight-sided shape! Hmm, should’ve taken a picture. Will do so down the road, because I am DEFINITELY using this technique FOREVER.
2. Hurray for Reverse Creaming: Wow, this blew my mind a little. I had actually made cakes with this method before but never paid too much attention to why the ingredients were coming together in this weird, opposite-feeling way. So once again, I did some poking and it turns out that when you start by combining your dry ingredients with your fat, the fat coats the flour granules and prevents too much gluten from forming when you’re mixing your cake. The resulting cake texture was so different from the one I made the week before when I creamed the butter and sugar together first, added the eggs, then incorporated the dry ingredients. Regular creaming produced a fairly open crumb with more of a spongy chew to it, still delicious but not the melty fluffy texture I was looking for. But the crumb produced by the reverse creaming method is fine with lots of tiny, compact bubbles, which makes for a sturdy cake good for stacking up super high while still soft and fluffy. I’m going to start trying to distinguish what flavors and cake styles benefit from regular creaming, and which benefit from reverse creaming—for example, I feel that chocolate can probably stand up to that more elastic sponge from normal creaming under certain circumstances. Science!
3. Whipped Egg Whites for Extra Lift: Finally, I whipped most of the egg whites in the recipe with some of the sugar and folded them in to see if I could achieve maximum lift. I was a little concerned that the cakes would collapse because of all the air I was incorporating, but am convinced that my updated pan prep method plus that reverse creaming kept the cake's structure intact. I wound up with a super fluffy, luxurious batter that baked up into a cake that is both pillowy and stackable! Thanks to the addition of whole milk powder, the flavor was nice and full despite there being so few yolks and so much bland, starchy cake flour in play.
So the cake base was great! Here’s the thing though: while the sprinkles (I used quin sprinkles rather than jimmies because I find their pastel colors prettier) didn’t all sink straight to the bottom of this foamy batter, quite a few of them made their way to the base and sides of the pan. I wonder if this was because the batter was too light from all those whipped egg whites. Usually thicker batter is better for funfetti, and I’d hoped the reverse creaming would help that. As you can see, the slice still looks nice, but the recipe could use some tweaks.
That said, the cake tasted so good that I wanted to include the recipe anyways! I’m sure I’ll be able to work the kinks out further down the road.
The little splash of strawberry flavoring on top of the artificial vanilla flavoring adds a certain je ne sais quoi, a sort of light hint of childhood candy shop. The marshmallow fluff and cream cheese in the buttercream make for a filling both light and rich. This cake is totally approachable and would make an awesome kid-friendly birthday treat!
Just a note on the meringue you’ll be making for this recipe: try not to over whip your egg whites like I usually do, until the whites get almost a little chunky they’re so stiff, because then little puffs of white may not fully incorporate into the batter. It’s not the end of the world, but it won’t be perfect, and if you’re like me then you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.
NOTE: You'll need the following two recipes plus another 4-6 cups of buttercream, mostly colored with the same pink coloring as mentioned in the Pink Funfetti Cake recipe below although you'll want to keep some white if you want to do the fluffy ruffled piping I did on the top of the cake. You'll also need additional jimmies.
Pink Funfetti Cake
2 cups whole milk at room temp
2 eggs at room temp
2 Tbsp artificial vanilla extract
2 tsp strawberry extract
6 (600g) cups cake flour
3 cups sugar divided (2 cups and 1 cup)
1/2 cup whole milk powder
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp fine salt
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
Americolor Soft Pink gel color
8 large egg whites at room temp
Scant 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2-1/3 cup quin sprinkles or rainbow jimmies
Preheat your oven to 350°. Prep four 3" deep, 6" round cake pans by spraying the base and halfway up the sides with cooking spray. Place a baking paper round at the base of each and set aside.
Combine the milk, two whole eggs, vanilla and strawberry extract in a small bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cake flour, two cups of the sugar, whole milk powder, baking powder, and salt and set the mixer on the lowest speed using the paddle attachment. Mix for about a minute to ensure equal distribution of elements.
Add in the butter and about a cup of your milk and egg mixture, continuing to mix as a paste starts to form. Then, raise the mixer speed to medium-low and stream in the remaining milk and egg. Add a few squeezes of the Soft Pink coloring. Beat until the mixture is homogeneous, scrape the bowl with a spatula, and check to make sure the color is what you’re looking for. If not deep enough, add another squeeze or two. Finally, beat on medium for 1-2 minutes to aerate the batter. Scrape this batter into another large mixing bowl and set aside.
Wash the stand mixer bowl thoroughly with soap and water, and add the egg whites. With the balloon whisk attachment, whip the whites until frothy, then add the cream of tartar. Continue to whip until finer bubbles start to form, then slowly stream in the remaining 1 cup sugar, turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and whip the whites until stiff peaks form. Try not to over-whip—once you see the meringue firm up to the point that it looks a little chunky when you stop the beater, or it starts to slip along the sides of the bowl, it's definitely time to stop!
Gently fold your meringue into the batter, starting with 1/3 of the meringue just to loosen things up, and then add the rest. Now, just as gently, incorporate your sprinkles, being as thorough as you can.
Portion your super fluffy batter equally between your four prepared pans and bake 45-50 minutes. The cakes are ready when they spring back when you press lightly on the top. Allow the cakes to come to room temperature, then use a dull knife to cut them out of their pans. Wrap thoroughly in plastic and let cool in the fridge for at least a couple of hours before torting.
Marshmallow Cheesecake Buttercream Filling
2 Tbsp water
1/4 + 2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 + 2 Tbsp light corn syrup or glucose
1 1/2 large egg whites (about 2 oz)
Pinch cream of tartar
Pinch fine salt
1 tsp vanilla
8oz cream cheese at room temp (super important!!)
6 cups Italian Meringue Buttercream (or any other buttercream you prefer) at room temp
The first step of this recipe is to make a marshmallowy meringue, so put your water, sugar, and corn syrup into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place a candy thermometer into the syrup and watch for when it reaches 240° F.
In the meantime, whip your egg whites on medium with the balloon whisk attachment until frothy, and add just a pinch of cream of tartar. Raise your mixer to high and whip the whites until they hold soft peaks. Try to time this so it aligns with the syrup reaching 240°, at which point turn the mixer to high and slowly stream in the sugar. Continue to whip for at least 4-5 minutes on high, until the fluff has cooled a bit and is glossy. Add the vanilla and salt, and whip for another minute or so. The fluff doesn't need to be at room temp when you stop beating, but you should allow it to cool before adding the other ingredients. Remove the fluff from the mixer bowl and set aside.
Place the cream cheese in the mixer bowl and, with the paddle attachment, beat it until smooth. Add about 1/2 cup buttercream and continue beating until combined. Add a cup of buttercream, beat until combined, and then scrape the bowl to get the thicker bits of cream cheese off the bottom. Beat again for 10-15 seconds, then add the rest of the buttercream, beating to incorporate. Now add all of your fluff, and beat on medium until it's all combined. Scrape your bowl, taste, and add any vanilla or salt or anything you think it needs.
Assemble the Cake
Torte your Pink Funfetti layers and stack them with the Marshmallow Cheesecake Buttercream. Frost the cake with darker pink buttercream, and save a little to color darker still (maybe with a bit of fuchsia coloring thrown in) to pipe your hearts with a medium round tip. Top with pillowy white buttercream piped through a Wilton 2D tip, and top with more sprinks!
This buttercream is SO DELICIOUS. When you layer it with the super fun cake, the result is like you took "plain" vanilla cake and gave a real sprinkle-covered kick in the pants.
I think this might be the best non-box birthday cake that has ever existed.
Yum!! Stay tuned for my YouTube walkthrough, dropping this weekend!