White Cake with Blackberry Buttercream Frosting

I’ve always heard people say, “You are either a great chef or a great baker/pastry chef.” This rings true with me because cooking feels very natural, however baking has never been my strong suit.  I can carry out the good ‘ol chocolate chip recipe, but my doughs are usually too dry and my cakes taste like cardboard.  So I had an idea.  Because I attend quite possibly the most creative school in the Northwest, why not create a baking independent study for myself?

I’m pulling out all of the stops.  I have my basic baking ingredients, a plethora of cookbooks, a handy dandy new food processor (thanks dad), and a group of hungry college students ready to eat my creations.

I started the project off with this white cake.  The cake itself is adapted from Cooks Illustrated.  It is relatively uncomplicated and has a lovely almond flavor.  The blackberry frosting is equally delicious, adapted from Kitchen Trial and Error.  The recipe calls for blackberry puree, but I couldn’t find it in a regular grocery store.  Instead, I bought canned blackberries and pureed them myself in the food processor and then strained out the seeds.  It ended up working nicely.  I would make the cake again, but I would use less sugar in the frosting.  It was a tad too sweet for me.

However, after my roommate and I had a good laugh about the cake’s slight “lopsidedness”, we devoured two pieces of it.

White Cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 6 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter

Set the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two nine-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour, tapping off the excess.

Whisk together the milk, egg whites, almond and vanilla extracts and set aside.  In a separate bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients.  Add butter and mix in until it forms coarse wet crumbs.  Add all of the milk mixture except 1/2 cup to the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes.  Then add the remaining milk mixture and mix for another minute.

Divide batter evenly among the two pans and smooth it out so that it is even.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool for about ten minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.  Cool completely before frosting.

Blackberry Buttercream:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioners sugar (I recommend using less)
  • 6 tablespoons strained blackberry puree (I used closer to 9)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Beat butter on medium speed until fluffy, about two minutes.  Slowly add 1 cup of sugar and beat until smooth.  Then add the wet ingredients.  Add the remaining sugar, 1/2 cup at a time and mix until smooth.  Once smooth, mix for another 3 minutes to make it fluffy.

 

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