Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pink Ombre Cake with Buttercream

You've seen it on Pinterest (by the way, do you follow my boards?)... the adorable pink layer cake. I don't usually fall for the Pinterest fads -- I don't have any wood palette art in my house and I don't knit these -- but this cake was too cute to skip for an It's a Girl Baby Shower.

I didn't have a good white cake recipe up my sleeve, so I checked-in with my baking goddess friends and was recommended the Magnolia Bakery recipe. They've made millions on cupcakes, so I figured they know what they're doing. It took some serious self-control not to improvise, but that's not what baking is about. Focus Carey!

Fresh flour purchased to ensure everything would rise properly. And yes... there is a difference between self-rising flour and cake flour... I googled it.

Okay, I know I talk about my lack of baking ability, but my first real job in high school was at a cookie shop. If I learned one thing, it's that you REALLY need to cream butter in baked goods to get that fluffy texture. Start creaming room-temperature butter and beat until it looks like marshmallow fluff, then you're ready to add eggs and sugar. No eggs until you see the fluff!

Once the batter is prepared, split evenly into four parts. These will soon become the various layers of pink.

Start with the lightest-colored layer. Remember you can always add more, but you can't take it away. I started with one drop in the first bowl, two in the second and so on. I ended up tweaking a bit with two drops in the lightest layer and five in the darkest, but every food coloring is different.

Lovely shades of pink ready to bake.

This batter is a dense and sticky, so you MUST butter and flour your pans. Take care when handling too. Once the cake is fully cooled, prepare the gooey buttercream, following the instructions to reach the perfect texture.

Start with the crumb coat... a thin layer to encapsulate the inevitable errors in your cake.

I like to finish my cakes with a rough coat of frosting. It makes it look homemade and like you can bite right in. When things are too smooth, no one wants to ruin the finish at a party. This puppy looked delectable! And my lovely co-host fashioned the adorable pennant decorations.

Pink Ombre Cake with Buttercream

For cake
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 stick butter (unsalted), softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
Red food coloring

For buttercream frosting
3 sticks butter (unsalted), softened
10 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup milk
3 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour four 9-inch cake pans. Start by combining flours. In a separate bowl cream butter on high speed, using an electric mixer, and gradually add sugar until fluffy. About 3-4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating in each completely. Gradually add dry ingredients, alternating with milk and vanilla. Do not overbeat once the dry ingredients have been added.

Divide batter into four bowls. Start by adding one drop of food coloring into the first bowl, two drops into the second, three into the third and four into the fourth. Lightly mix batters until color is combined. Add more food coloring, if needed, until desired color is reached.

Bake cakes for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Using an electric mixer combine butter, 3 cups powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Start slowly, the sugar will get everywhere. Beat until smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Add remaining sugar two cups at a time, beating well in between (about 2 minutes).

Place darkest layer of cake on cake stand and add an ample layer of frosting. Continue layering cake and place a thin layer of frosting on top and sides to contain crumbs. Then apply frosting in a thick layer to finish.

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