I meant to check “test cake” off my list a little earlier last week, but I didn’t get time to do it until about 10 p.m. the night before we were about to leave for Chicago. Crazy, I know, but it was one of those times when you just decide you need to do something, and you don’t stress about it, you just do it.
I started with Deb’s recipe for vanilla buttermilk cake (found here, scroll down). I decided to test one 3-layer cake, the same size as the middle layer would be, a 10-inch circle.
I had to run out and buy eggs (another reason for the delay) because you need 7 just for this part. Yikes! But the recipe came together flawlessly in the end. It makes 9 cups of batter, a lot more than I’m used to working with at once, but the perfect amount for 3 layers. The batter is soft and smooth and easy to work with. I decided that I wanted to make it just a little more special, so I added in the goop from one vanilla bean pod that I had.
You can see the little flecks in the batter and in the finished cake. Nice!
It took a little longer to bake than the 26-28 minutes it called for, maybe 32 minutes or so? Once I took it out of the oven, the domed top immediately sank, giving the top a perfectly flat appearance, which makes it easier to stack and frost.
I did notice, though, that the rack in the oven is a little bit on an angle, so with smaller cakes there will be some adjusting to do.
The thing I notice with from-scratch cakes (especially buttery ones) is that they end up a lot crumblier and more finicky than cakes from boxed mixes. But in the end they make a dense, rich cake that is worth the extra effort.
This cake tasted great with a little buttercream frosting I whipped up, and after a day in the fridge it tasted even better. Since the cakes will be frozen and thawed during transport, I feel good about how they are going to taste after a couple of days.
I think just to be on the safe side I am going to have to quadruple this recipe to have enough batter for all nine layers. That equals 10 sticks of butter and 28 eggs, if you’re counting. That will be a fun trip to the store.
My biggest concern is the frosting, which we decided we are going to make there. Keeping it at the right temperature could be a little tricky. But strangely I don’t feel that stressed about the whole process. I’m actually really excited for it!
I also ordered the cake topper kit from Etsy, so that’s two more things I can cross off my list. Whew.