May 19, 2012

White Vanilla Cake with Macarons

This may be one of the best cakes I've ever made. It's pretty, elegant and most of all, really delicious. And I made it within 3 hours, which was a mad rush to bake the cake layers, make the macarons, whip up the frosting, assemble the cake and frost the whole thing before my friends came over. I know, I should have planned it earlier and started a day ahead because my macarons didn't turn out right. I was devastated to see the poor, cracked with no crinkly feet macarons looking like mini whoopie pies when I took them out of the oven. But in the end I still used them, because they just tasted so good. I didn't let them set long enough to dry as I didn't have enough time. Lesson learned.

The main inspiration for the macaron topping came from the Balsamic Strawberry Butter Cake by Steph of Raspberri Cupcakes (I am her no.1 fan of her blog!). My cake is no where near as perfect as her cake (and all of her other amazing cakes) and I should have topped the cake with more macarons too. The frosting on the cake isn't super smooth because I didn't bother spending more time on that, and those air bubbles from whipping so much made it even harder to smooth out. Speaking of frosting, I used my go-to recipe: Perfect buttercream frosting, minus the cream cheese. This never lets me down and always impresses with its light and not-too-sweet whipped cream taste...yum.

For the cake, I used the recipe from Joy of Baking, which is great for me because it uses the egg whites and egg yolks. It is more complicated than just mixing the ingredients together, because you have to beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold it through the cake batter. But, it's totally worth it when it comes out of the oven, because it creates a beautiful light, moist and buttery crumb that tastes oh so vanilla. I also carefully increased the recipe by 1.5 times, so that I could have a third layer. And it turned out just as it should which made me really happy, unlike my attempt at a third layer on the Chocolate Delight Cake.

The macarons are the star on this cake even though they weren't as perfect as I had hoped. I recently bought the "Macarons Chic & Delicious French Treats" book by Annie Rigg from the bookstore, and it is an beautiful little book full of stunning pictures and ideas for making various flavours of macarons. I adapted one of the ideas to flick some red liquid food colouring on the unbaked macarons (a genius idea!), which gave it a Jackson Pollock effect. It gave it a pretty colour on an otherwise plain macaron. I was also going to make heart shaped macarons but I ended up piping the regular round shapes, so I'd love to try it the next time I make another batch.

White cake recipe adapted from Joy of Baking.
Makes one-3 layer 8 inch cake.

3 large eggs, separated
262 grams cake flour (about 2 and 3/4 cups) or use plain flour and replace 4 tablespoons of the flour with cornflour
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon of salt
170 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups (300 grams) of sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3/4 cup of milk
1/8 plus half of 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Macarons recipe from 'Macaron Chic & Delicious French Treats' by Annie Rigg.
Makes about 20 filled macarons

200 g (1 and 1/2 cups) icing/ confectioners'/ powdered sugar
100 g (2/3 cup) ground almonds
120-125 g egg whites (about 3 eggs)
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons of sugar

For the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 177 degrees C (350 degrees F). Grease and line three 8 inch round cake tins with baking paper.

2. Separate the eggs, reserving both the egg yolks and egg whites and set aside in covered bowls.

3. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.

4. Beat butter with an electric mixer until soft and add 1 cup of the sugar. Continue to beat until creamy and fluffy.

5. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing after each addition and add the vanilla extract to beat until combined.

6. Add the flour mixture and milk in three additions, alternating between each to make sure the flour is added in the beginning and end.

7. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl with an electric mixer until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.

8. Gradually add the remaining sugar (1/2 cup) and keep beating until it forms stiff peaks.

9. Gently fold a little of the egg whites in the cake batter with a rubber spatula and then add the rest, mixing until combined. Be careful not to overmix the batter otherwise it will deflate.

10. Evenly divide the batter between the three prepared cake tins (weigh the batter if you want to have exactly even layers) and bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center is clean. Cool the cakes in the tins for 10 mins and let them completely cool. Cover the layers with plastic wrap and place them in a freezer for at least an hour to make it easier for assembly.

For the macarons:

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (338 degrees F). Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds in a mixing bowl and set aside.

2. Whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer in a clean bowl. Add the salt and continue to beat until it just holds a stiff peak. Add the sugar a teaspoonful at a time and mix well between each addition. It should form a thick, white and glossy meringue.

3. Fold the icing sugar and ground almond mixture into the egg whites until combined and smooth.

4. Fill a piping bag with the mixture and pipe even circles on the baking/parchment paper lined baking trays, about 2 inches across in diameter.

5. Tap the bottom of the trays sharply to remove any large air bubbles. Dip a clean toothbrush in some red liquid food colouring and flick the bristles over the macarons to colour them (the food colouring may splash quite a bit).

6. Leave the macarons for at least 15 minutes to an hour, until they become dry and have set. They should not feel wet or sticky when tested with your finger.

7. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes until the tops are crisp and the bottoms are dry. Let them cool completely after baking.

8. Fill the macarons with some buttercream, jam, ganache or frosting (I used some leftover frosting from the cake) and sandwich them together.

To assemble the cake,

1. Fill the cake with about 1/2 cup of frosting on each layer (I used my favourite buttercream frosting here), stacking them layer by layer and frosting the outside of the cake. Put it in the fridge to set for at least an hour. Top the cake with macarons just before serving and serve at room temperature.


  1. Wow. I love your new blog layout!!! And this cake is very pretty. I usually have a hit and miss with macarons because I live at such a high altitude that they bake up weirdly.

  2. Oh my, another great recipe and another macrons. I'm now following.

  3. Thanks so much for following Ellen! I hope you continue to enjoy my blog and thanks for stopping by.


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