living the sweet life

Vanilla Cake with Fresh Whipped Cream

I am terrible at surprises. I have never planned them and I’ve only ever been surprised twice in my life and both times I’m pretty sure I fell on the floor. Surprises just take a lot of planning, a lot of work, and a lot of change. But, when my boyfriend’s birthday fell on a Monday and I already had off Monday and Tuesday, I knew I needed to surprise him, especially since we’re not a plane ride away this year.

My original plan, since a few weeks ago he had asked for a cake for his birthday (well, duh), was to plan a secret surprise party in his apartment and have all his friends over for cake. But, the night before I was going to leave for Vegas, his roommate (who I had been planning with) texted me urgently saying Ryan was planning a night out at the bar. Okay, change in plans.

I drive out to Vegas, get all last minute errands done, and then drive out to the bar so I can scope it out in advance. There were no good hiding places, so I’m hiding in the bathroom, shaking like a Chihuahua and sweating from nerves and the 100 degree heat. He was supposed to arrive any minute when I get a text from his roommate saying that Ryan decided to go home first and drop off his car. Then I freaked out that he would go inside, see all of my things and figure out the surprise. But thanks to Jon and Jessica, Ryan didn’t go inside and he finally made it to the bar.

Anyway, once he got to the bar, I walked down from the little upstairs seating area and surprised him. And honestly? The look on his face was SO worth it.

But this cake. So simple and so delicious. I knew I wanted something simple in flavors and something with berries for Ryan, and this cake hit the mark. I’ve never baked a vanilla cake, and even vanilla cupcakes are something I tend to avoid. I love chocolate so much more, but vanilla cakes also tend to be drier and don’t last as long. This recipe, however, remained most and after refrigeration, became denser which held up to the whipped cream and berries and provided the perfect balance.

This cake will definitely be made again, that’s for sure. It’s a perfect cake for summer (and very Swedish in style – vanilla cake, whipped cream and berries) so be sure to bake it to celebrate the last days of summer!

Oh, and the natural lighting plus the coffee table in Ryan’s apartment? I want to drive all of my baked goods to his apartment to take my pictures. So dreamy.

Vanilla Cake

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour*
2 tablespoons cornstarch*
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 3 6-inch round pans by buttering the bottom and the sides. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour and cornstarch 3-4 times so it is well blended. This will make a homemade cake flour. Add in the baking soda, baking powder, and salt and sift one more time.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar for 2-4 minutes until butter is light and fluffy. Add in egg yolks one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add in vanilla and beat until just combined. Add in dry ingredients and sour cream alternating between each and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

In a small bowl, add the two egg whites and use a handmixer to beat the whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into the batter until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the 3 pans evenly. Bake in the oven for 15 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean.

Let cool in cake pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely.


Fresh Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
Strawberries and Blueberries, for decorating.

Pour heavy cream into a cold mixing bowl, and beat on medium high speed until stiff peaks form or until desired consistency. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To Assemble The Cake:

Level any of the cake layers with a serrated knife if they domed too much in the oven. On a plate, lay the first layer right side up. Spread with one third of the whipped cream. Layer sliced strawberries on top. Add the next layer so that it is upside down. Spread another third of the whipped cream on top. Layer with more sliced strawberries. Add the final layer right side up, spreading the remaining whipped cream on top. Add sliced strawberries around the edge and fresh blueberries in the center.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: I used the flour and cornstarch to make my own cake flour, but if you own cake flour, simply omit the cornstarch and use 1 1/4 cups cake flour.

[source: adapted from Tate’s Bakeshop Cookbook]

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