These cakes are cooling on my counter as we speak but I just could not wait to share because as you can see, I’ve already leveled off the top of one of these bad boys and ate it!
This was an experiment that went really well. And given that I’m still relatively new baking, I considered it a big risk because not only was I relying on a method I learned a while ago (that I wasn’t sure would work with this cake), but vanilla beans are expensive as hell and I risked losing one if this cake failed. But it did not! Quite the opposite!
If the rest of the cake is as good as the top then I can definitely see this making the rounds in my cake arsenal. Wait until you see what I do with it!
Now, because vanilla beans are so expensive I definitely don’t expect you to run out and buy some just for this recipe. I’m sure that you could get away with just using the extract included in this recipe or maybe replace it with some vanilla bean paste. My grocery store doesn’t sell vanilla bean paste or that would have been my first choice. I can’t even tell you how many times I put the vanilla beans in my cart and then took them out because I just couldn’t justify spending $7.00 for two beans! I know that they are way less expensive on Amazon so I may go that route next time.
I bought the beans last night and I opened the jar several times just to smell them. 😛 So strong, yet lovely and vanilla-y and creamy almost! And of course my kitchen smelled fantastic all morning.
This recipe makes two 9-inch round cakes or three 6-inch cakes plus a couple of muffins. I did the latter. I’m sure you could probably squeeze four 6-inch layers out of there since basic math states that two 6-inch cakes can be made from one 9-inch cake recipe.
Anyway, enough rambling! Here’s the recipe!
- 6 eggs, separated and brought to room temperature
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar for the cake batter
- 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar for the meringue
- The seeds of 1 vanilla bean (cut bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds)
- 2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 3 cup (360g) of cake flour
- 3 tsp of baking powder
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1 cup milk (I used 2%), room temperature
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, cream together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. This takes approximately 5 minutes.
- Add egg yolks one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds between each addition.
- Add your vanilla extract and the vanilla bean seeds and beat together until combined.
- Add your flour mixture into your egg mixture by beating in 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by half of the milk, 1/2 of the remaining mixture followed by the rest of the milk, then finally the last of the flour mixture. Set aside.
- Create a bain marie by bringing about an inch of water to a simmer at the bottom of a sauce pan.
- Add your egg whites and remaining 3/4 c of sugar to a metal or glass bowl and put over the pot of water, making sure that the water in the pot does not touch the bowl itself.
- Wearing a latex or plastic glove, use your fingers to swish around the mixture in the bowl until the mixture has warmed and you can no longer feel any granules of sugar. Note: Try not to let the water boil. If it happens just remove your pot from the burner and keep mixing, lifting up the bowl to release some steam if you have to. We want to melt the sugar but not cook the egg whites.
- Add this mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on high about 5 minutes until you have thick, glossy peaks. Alternatively, you can use a handheld electric mixer but it will take a bit longer.
- Add one third of the meringue to the rest of the batter and whisk to combine.
- Add the remaining meringue to the batter and fold it in gently with a rubber spatula. We want to try to retain some of the air of the egg whites but at the same time get rid of the white streaks. In the picture above you'll see that there is a hole in the cake where I picked out a congealed chunk of meringue, so do your best to make it as incorporated as possible.
- Add batter to your prepared cake tins of choice. Add a parchment round to the bottom of your pan and then lightly grease the whole thing.
- Bake at 350º F for approximately 30-40 minutes. My 6-inch cakes took 33 minutes exactly but your oven may be different.
- Keep this cake moist by using simple syrup on your layers: 1 part sugar to 1 part water, boiled together for 5 minutes then allowed to cool.