Vanilla is one of the most popular flavors in the world, and for good reason! Its sweet, classic taste is perfect for fluffy white birthday cakes, especially when it’s paired with buttercream. This vanilla bean cake recipe by our exclusive contributor, Melina of Sugary and Buttery, can be topped with an adorable fondant bear that children will love! Here’s what Melina has to say:
“This pretty delight is a real vanilla bean bomb! It’s loaded with 3 whole vanilla beans. Yep, that’s right, and that is what makes it so great: pure, natural vanilla flavor through and through. I used my favorite white cake recipe (it’s easy, tastes amazing and works every time) in combination with a classic Swiss meringue buttercream, both packed with vanilla bean seeds.
The cake really looks a lot more elaborate than it is. The tricky part is just the fondant cake topper (tutorial link below) and, if you’re not that experienced, maybe the ombre frosting, both of which are not really necessary here. But I don’t know what I am more crazy about, the cute little sugar bear or the scrumptious vanilla bean cake!”
VANILLA BEAN BIRTHDAY BEAR CAKE
—2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
—4.5 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
—2 cups milk
—8 large egg whites
—2 tablespoons baking powder
—2 vanilla beans
—2.5 cups sugar:
—4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature,
—6 egg whites
—Pinch of cream of tartar
—1 vanilla bean
—Food color of your choice (I used turquoise)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C and butter and flour three 6 inch cake pans (or 8 inch cake pans).
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites and milk. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder.
3. In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and seeds of the vanilla beans on medium to high speed until light and fluffy, for about 3 minutes.
4. Add a third of your milk-egg mixture and a third of your flour mixture while running your mixer on low speed until just incorporated. Add the remaining flour and milk mixtures in 2 separate batches while continuing to run your mixer on low speed. Stop the mixer when incorporated.
5. Spread the batter evenly among the cake pans and smooth out the batter. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the cakes are golden and a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
6. Let the cakes cool down on a cooling rack completely.
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and 1/3 cup water to a boil. Boil until syrup reaches soft-ball stage (240°F on a candy thermometer).
2. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat on medium high until stiff but not dry.
3. With mixer running, pour syrup down side of bowl into egg whites in a steady stream. Beat on high speed for about 15 minutes until the egg whites are cool to the touch and stiff and glossy. Beat in butter a few pieces at a time. Add vanilla bean seeds and beat until smooth. If it looks curdled at any point, keep beating to smooth out.
4. To make the ombre effect, take out about a third of your frosting and add 1 drop of food color. Divide the colored frosting in half, set one half aside, and add a few more drops to the remaining frosting to achieve 2 different colors.
TO ASSEMBLE AND FROST THE CAKE:
1. Cut the tops of your cooled cakes and slice them in 6 layers. Save the cake tops! You can use them to make these super delicious Vanilla Bean Cake Truffles with Toasted Pistachios and White Chocolate.
2. Now frost your cake, starting with the white buttercream on top and ending with the darkest color on the bottom. If you want to find out more on how to frost your cake, read a detailed tutorial.