Birthday cakes always seem to be the center of attention. We eagerly await our slice after the candles have been blown out, the singing has ceased and the honored one has taken the first wedge. I'm all for this kind of tradition because it is how I was raised, but I'm also one for the tradition of homemade cakes to mark these milestones. No ifs, ands or buts! If a cake has been made with a lot of love & care, along with the very best ingredients, it will absolutely be consumed down to the last crumb by everyone.
The comforting flavor of those tender Vanilla Cake Layers I showed you earlier coupled with the sweetness of that creamy Simple Vanilla Frosting, makes this birthday cake extra special. For purists who insist on having a through & through vanilla cake, they're going to adore this celebratory dessert because it's uncomplicated and unfussy. To be honest, those are the cakes I enjoy baking most and they're the ones I love eating the most.
One doesn't have to wait for a special celebration to make this particular cake. I can see it being baked for a picnic at the park, a weekend lunch or any day of the week. The cake layers can be baked ahead of time and the frosting can be whipped up a few days beforehand if you feel like it. On the day you plan to serve it, stack the cakes and cloak them in icing. A good layer cake like this one is perfect to sweeten anyone's day any time of year!
Vanilla Birthday Cake
A perfect slice of birthday cake.
Vanilla Birthday Cake Components
Servings: approximately 10
Either on a cake stand or cake plate, lay 4 strips of parchment or waxed paper along the edges of the plate to cover the rims. This will keep icing & crumbs off the cake stand while you're decorating.
Center the first layer on the stand and spread a small amount of icing on top of the cake. You don't have to use icing here. A delicious jam could be spread on top of the cake or perhaps some whipped cream or a citrus curd of your choice. Any of these would be delicious.
Carefully set the second layer over the first one and center it well. With a wide pastry brush, wipe off any stray crumbs from the sides and the top. This will reduce the amount that get onto the frosting as you spread it.
With a large offset metal spatula, apply a thin layer of vanilla frosting on top of the cake. Smooth it out and spread any excess down the sides. Continue applying a very thin layer all around the sides, rotating your plate or stand as you do so. Don't worry about crumbs getting into the frosting. This is just a crumb coat meant to keep crumbs off the final coating of frosting.
Refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes after you've applied the crumb coat to set it. If you want to keep it longer than 15 minutes before you continue frosting, cover the entire cake in plastic wrap until you're ready to finish it.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and begin applying the final coat. I always like to frost the top of the cake and then the sides. This cake isn't meant to be perfect so swirl it in whatever fashion you like. You want the cake to look homey and not too fussy. Use up all of the frosting!
The waxed paper strips can now be removed. Do this gently, but firmly. If for some reason you do have a stray crumb or piece of icing on the cake stand, remove it with a toothpick. Let the cake sit at room temperature until serving time. Keep it in a cool spot.
The first cake wedge has been removed for the guest of honor.
This is a glorious cake with a fine crumb and ineffable lightness. I simply adore it!
Any leftovers can be kept at room temperature well-covered for up to 2 days or so. If you have a cake dome us it for this purpose.
As you can see, the cake slices beautifully.
Nothing gives me greater pleasure than seeing eyes sparkle the moment I bring a cake to the table. Knowing that a delightful dessert like this one is going to brighten someone's day is motivation enough to get me baking. There is something pleasing about measuring ingredients, using my stand mixers and filling my kitchen with the enticing aromas of baking. I have a feeling this Vanilla Birthday Cake is going to be baked quite often in my home and I certainly expect many of you bakers out there to give it a try at least once. I hope you like it.