Since I wrote my last post on how to make macarons, I turned 16...yes, I aged a year! My birthday was this past weekend and even though I stayed home with my friends and family, I wanted to make a cake that has all the things I have ever wanted in one, including ruffles. I have always admired all the ruffle cakes I saw in the past, like this, this and this! Aren't they all pretty and perfect? Mine isn't too pretty like those ones, but I am happy enough with my first attempt. The strawberry swiss meringue buttercream was the real highlight of the cake because it was so delicious that it tasted like fresh strawberry ice cream. It was really light in texture and not too sweet or buttery (I decreased the amount of butter to only 200 grams and it worked!). It was the perfect choice for making ruffles on this cake. The traditional buttercreams use too much icing sugar to stiffen it up, which gives it an unpleasant gritty, overly sweet and buttery taste. That's why I rarely use it anymore.
At first, I couldn't decide what cake to bake since it was only going to be for me and my little family. I had some strawberries leftover so it became the perfect opportunity to try piping ruffles with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream. My main inspiration for this cake came from Diamonds for Dessert's ruffle blogiversary cake. Her post convinced me that ruffles aren't that hard or time consuming to create and perfect. But really, I had some difficulties with it since it was my first attempt. I piped the ruffles the first time and it ended up looking messy and uneven, so I scraped it off and started again. The second time round it came out okay but was still not as perfect as I wanted it to be. I figured out that it already looked good enough and I was tired of the thought of doing it again.
I used the same white cake recipe from the White Vanilla Cake with Macarons because it turned out fluffy, moist and vanilla-y which would pair really well with the strawberry swiss meringue buttercream. But this time the cake turned out a little dry, so maybe next time I should try another recipe. Nonetheless, the strawberry jam in between the layers helped moisten it a little and added a beautiful flavour to the cake. The cake really did taste wonderful and I was very happy to have finally made a ruffle cake. The ruffles took up so much frosting though, so you would need to make a lot more for a larger cake. Just in case you were wondering, this mini cake is 5 and 3/4 inches in size which is perfect for a celebration to serve a small (I mean tiny) crowd of people.
White Vanilla Cake from Joy of Baking.
Makes 4 thin layer, 5 and 3/4 inch cake (if you want a larger cake, you should increase the recipe by 1.5 or 2 times)
2 large eggs
1 and 3/4 cups of cake/plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
113 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of milk
1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1. Preheat the oven to 177 degrees C (350 degrees F). Line with baking paper the bottom and grease one 31.1 x 20.6 cm rectangular sheet pan. If you're doing a larger cake, prepare two or three 8 inch cake pans.
2. Separate the egg whites and egg yolks into different bowls and set aside.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
4. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until soft for about 1-2 minutes and add 3/4 cups of sugar to the butter, beating until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and mix again.
5. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture in three additions, starting and ending with the flour.
6. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Slowly add 1/4 cup of sugar to the egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form.
7. Gently fold a little of the meringue into the cake batter to lighten it first with a rubber spatula, and then fold in the remaining egg whites into the mixture until combined. Try not to over-mix or the batter will deflate.
8. Put the batter into the prepared pan/pans and smooth the surface with a small offset spatula. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
9. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it onto a wire rack to cool completely before assembling.
Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from Diamonds for Dessert. (You would have to increase the recipe by about 1.5 or 2 times for a larger cake since the ruffles use lot of frosting)
4 egg whites at room temperature
1 and 1/4 cups of sugar
200 grams of unsalted butter, at room temperature (the original recipe stated 339 grams of butter which is totally unnecessary since I tried adding a little less than 2 sticks of butter, which still worked perfectly!)
1 and 1/2 cups of fresh strawberries, pureed
1. Simmer some water in a small saucepan on the stove. Mix the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl and put it over the pot so that it fits well. Whisk the mixture until it is hot and the sugar has fully dissolved (dip your fingers into the egg whites and rub them together, if it feels gritty, keep whisking).
2. Remove the bowl from the heat and pour into a bowl of an electric mixer. Alternatively, you could just leave it in the bowl if you are using a hand-held electric mixer. Beat on a medium high speed until stiff peaks form and the bowl has cooled down to room temperature for about 10 minutes.
3. Cut up the butter into small pieces and add them to the mixture a few pieces at a time, waiting for the butter pieces to incorporate before adding any more. Continue beating for a few minutes, and add the strawberry puree a little at a time to allow it to slowly incorporate. If the mixture turns out soupy after a couple of minutes of beating, put it in the fridge for 15 minutes. After beating again it might curdle, but just keep your hopes high and continue to beat the mixture until it turns into a silky smooth buttercream. Add a few drops of pink food colouring if desired. Best used immediately.
Assembly:1. If making a small cake, create a template for the cakes on a sheet of paper. Use a compass to draw a circle of 5 and 3/4 inches in diameter and cut the stencil out. Then use a knife to cut out 2 circles from the rectangular cake and cut both circles horizontally in half. If making a larger cake, skip this step.
2. Put a cake layer on a cake board or a baking paper circle. Spread a small amount of strawberry jam on the cake and smooth it out with an ofset spatula.
3. Now dollop a scoop of frosting using an ice cream scoop or a large spoon and smooth the frosting out evenly.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the other layers until you have a nice staked tower of cake. Apply a thin layer of frosting on the outside of the whole cake to act as a crumb coat. It doesn't have to be too neat, the ruffles will cover it up later. This also keeps the crumbs from mixing into the frosting. Refridgerate the cake for 30 minutes or until firm.
5. Place a petal tip (I used no.104) in a piping bag. Fill the piping bag with the remaining buttercream.
7. To finish, pipe ruffles on the top as a border (I would have liked to fully cover the top of the cake, but I had no more frosting left. Instead, I scattered the top with some multi-coloured heart confetti. Sprinkles makes everything look better!