My vanilla almod cake is filled with strawberry puree and frosted with cream cheese buttercream. The batter uses the reverse creaming method, creating a pillowy yet velvety crumb sweet with almond and vanilla. The strawberry puree offers the perfect tartness for the cake and creamy frosting.
The cake recipe creates a 6-inch cake that should serve about 8-10 adults. There are three layers of my vanilla almond white cake with about 1/3 cup of strawberry puree spread between each layer. The outside of the cake is frosted with my Butter Cream Cheese Frosting, a buttercream I invented that is stable for large-layer cakes.
Egg whites provide the structure for the cake. Did you know the main reason cakes are yellow is because of egg yolks? Since we're not using yolks in this cake, it will bake up pure white. You can save your yolks for some pastry cream or lemon curd :)
Milk provides moisture for the cake. You can use any fat level of milk - they will all produce a super moist cake.
Vanilla and almond extract are the flavoring components for this cake. Almond extract is super potent, so be sure to measure it carefully. If you prefer to leave it out, just replace it with more vanilla extract, and you'll have a super vanilla-ey cake instead.
Cake flour is milled very fine and uses a particular wheat type with a lower protein content than all-purpose or bread flour. In the US, common brands for home bakers are Softasilk (bleached), Swan's Down (bleached), and King Arthur's Cake Flour (unbleached). All work great.
If you cannot find cake flour, you can use all-purpose flour. The cake will have a coarser crumb, but it will still be incredibly delicious and worth baking.
You can substitute cake flour by removing a tablespoon of all-purpose flour (for every cup) and replacing it with a tablespoon of cornstarch. This works to some extent, and I will cover that in a blog post in the future.
White granulated sugar adds the taste of sweetness to this cake. Sugar also adds moisture! I know it sounds strange because most of the time, we're working with it in solid form - little crystals, right? But sugar melts pretty quickly into a syrup, adding moisture to a cake.
Baking powder provides lift to the cake, containing both an acid and a base. Have you ever done those volcano experiments where you add vinegar to baking soda, and it produces fizzy bubbles? That's very similar to what's happening inside our cakes containing baking powder when we put them in the oven.
Kosher salt adds a salty taste to cakes and enhances the flavor. I always use Diamond Crystal kosher salt for my baking.
Unsalted butter is a primary source of fat in our cakes, and fat ensures a moist cake and prevents it from drying out. I use unsalted (sometimes referred to as "sweet") butter because it gives us complete control over the salt content in our baked goods.
In this recipe, we want to ensure the butter is softened due to the reverse creaming method. It needs to blend pretty thoroughly into the flour, and if the butter is too firm, it won't correctly coat the flour.
Canola oil is another fat that adds moisture to a cake. Why add both butter AND oil? Butter is a different type of fat in that it contains water and remains solid-ish at room temperature.
Oil remains liquid, even down to freezing temps sometimes. The state in which the fat resides during room temp or the temp that we eat our cake will affect the texture, and my cake recipes use both to ensure good moisture levels and flavor.
As for my strawberry puree and the cream cheese frosting, I have whole posts and videos dedicated to those. Feel free to check them out here:
This method may look a little different than the most popular mixing method we use in the US, which typically starts with "Cream the butter and sugar together." (By the way, that one is sometimes referred to as the "creaming" method or "conventional" method.)
Reverse creaming is different in that we add our dry ingredients to the bowl first (so flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt) and then add in the fats (butter and oil). We mix that until it looks like we're about to make pie dough, and then we add the liquids and eggs at the very end of the process.
The reasoning is that the fats are better able to coat the flour. This is beneficial because that layer of fat is a barrier against the liquid ingredients (eggs and milk). When liquid and flour mix together, they can potentially form gluten, which gives baked goods a chewy texture. This is awesome for pizzas but not so much for cakes. So protecting the flour and working with it as little as possible gives us that super soft crumb we love about cakes.
Whisk together egg whites, extracts and milk (labeled “for egg mixture”) and set aside.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Mix in butter and oil.
It will look like small crumbs.
Make sure to add the one labeled “for mixing into dry”. Mix for 2 whole minutes.
You should get a thick mixture.
Add it in three parts otherwise it won’t mix in properly.
Divide batter evenly into prepared pans and bake for about 25 mins at 350F/180C.
I let my cakes cool jussst until I can pick up the pan. The cakes are still warm and I wrap them until I need them.
Check out my recipe down below but if you need another pan size or want to make cupcakes with this recipe, I have The Cakeculator, which will do all the conversions for you. Check it out here.
vanilla almond cake
Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
(Please try to use weights for this recipe. The volume measurements are close estimates but the perfect recipe is in grams.)
Make the Cake
Make the Buttercream (can be done days ahead and kept chilled in the fridge. Let it warm slightly before mixing and using.)
*Almond flavoring is beautiful in this cake but is optional. Just add more vanilla extract in its place.
**Cake flour really is best for this cake as all-purpose flour just tends to weigh down the crumb into a denser cake. I usually buy King Arthur Flour's unbleached cake flour, since it's readily available at my local Target, but Swan's down or Softasilk will work just as well.
***The cream cheese brands that I’ve tested: Lucerne, Walmart's Great Value (my favorite), or Target's Good and Gather, Trader Joe's, Philadelphia block or tub
****The citric acid contained in lemon juice increases the acidity or "tanginess" of cream cheese without adding a lemon flavor. It's delicious if you love a cream cheese flavor - you can sub vanilla extract, but it does add an extra flavor element on top of the cream cheese instead of enhancing it like lemon juice.