SPRING! In my neck of the woods, this means cherry blossoms blooming, lil green leaves sprouting up everywhere and sanity-saving sunny days of playing outside. Perhaps it means taking up running again and getting some fitness up in this muffin top??
It definitely means busting out the piping bags for some extra pretty Spring-in-your-step cakes. I love the look of the buttercream ribbon rose cake – the ribbon rose is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a tight little ribbon of buttercream that forms an adorable mini rosette. This whole mint green/peachy rose look is giving me a serious 1990s Laura Ashley vibe/Cabbage Patch Kids/Anne Geddes mega vibe which of course I’m very into…
I was just telling Teddy about what it means to make someone that you love feel good. He was telling me that for Easter, he would give me the Easter eggs which he didn’t like the look of… so I said what would really be special is if you gave me the one that was actually the one you really liked. Then I started telling him about the time when my sisters and I were kids, and Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage in 1982, those rock-hard-faced dolls were the most coveted toy of Christmas that year, each with a signature scrawl on their butt. My sister Shelley wanted a brown-haired one, that was her big wish – I wanted a brown haired one too… but when we tore into those wrapped tell-tale boxes, my sister ended up with a red-haired one and I got the brown-haired one. HUGE TEARS erupted from my sister as she was so sad she didn’t get her brown-haired one… I immediately went over to her and told her she could have mine (even though I really wanted the brown haired one too!) and I ended up with little ginger Arianna with the carrot-orange braids. This is probably my first memory of being empathetic and compassionate, at 6 years old. NOT TOO SHABBY, LITTLE ME!
A few weeks ago Teddy and I made strawberry ice cream from scratch, and the frigging waffle cones too. Other things we’ve made together include pancakes, waffles, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, banana chocolate chip muffins… he loves cracking eggs, even though I’m holding my breath every time he does it (entirely non-gracefully, with large shards of shell embedded in yolk and whites). I want to give him these baking experiences, and to show him that things don’t have to come from a store, and to spend time with him in the kitchen (also so he thinks my job is cool, hehe). I’m guessing 20 years from now he will look back and appreciate baking with mom… :P
Yellow Vanilla Cake with Pink Buttercream Ribbon Roses
- Piping bag fitted with a leaf tip
- Piping bag fitted with a petal tip
- Parchment paper squares (I just cut my own)
- Flower nail
For the yellow cake
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/4 cup whole milk
For the swiss meringue buttercream
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons large egg whites
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups unsalted butter , at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 7×2 inch round cake pans by spritzing with vegetable oil (or rubbing with unsalted butter) and parchment paper lining, trimmed to size.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until combined. Add the vanilla extract.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder until combined.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the whole milk, beginning and ending with the flour, until combined and a batter forms, about 30-60 seconds. Do not overmix.
- Divide batter evenly among prepared cake pans; bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, rotating pans halfway through baking time to ensure even baking.
- Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks. Cool completely before frosting.
Make the buttercream
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add the egg whites and granulated sugar. Whisk them together by hand, just until they are combined so that the egg whites don’t begin cooking by themselves.
- Fill a sauce pan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixer bowl with the egg white mixture on top to create a double-boiler. The water should be kept at a simmer but should not touch the bottom of the bowl. The double-boiler acts as indirect heat for the egg white mixture.
- Occasionally stirring, heat the egg white mixture until it reaches 155 to 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer. The mixture should be very hot to the touch and the sugar should have dissolved.
- Once the egg white mixture is hot, carefully return the bowl to the stand mixer. Fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed for about 8-10 minutes. When done, the meringue should hold shiny, medium-stiff peaks and be cooled to room temperature. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
- Swap out to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, begin adding in the room temperature butter a couple tablespoons at a time. I pretty much just “cube as I go” with a sharp paring knife, cutting little pieces into the meringue bit by bit.
- Once the butter has been mixed in, add the vanilla extract.
- Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until silky smooth, creamy and shiny.
- Remove 1/2 cup of buttercream for tinting a peachy pink shade; I used maybe 1/8 teaspoon total of pink mixed with peach gel food colouring.
- Add about 1/8 teaspoon total of leaf green and sky blue gel food colouring to the rest of the buttercream and mix for another minute on medium speed to incorporate colour.
Assemble the cake
- Once cake layers are completely cooled, level your layers with a serrated knife with a gentle sawing motion to remove any cake domes.
- Place a dab of buttercream on a cake board or cake plate and place the first layer, cut side up, in the center, pressing down to adhere gently.
- Using an offset spatula, frost the layer with an even layer of buttercream.
- Place the next cake layer on top, cut-side-down, pressing gently down to adhere.
- Frost the next layer as you did the first layer.
- Place the final cake layer on top, cut-side-down, pressing down gently to adhere. Make sure all your cake layers are in an even stack.
- Begin frosting a crumb coat of buttercream starting from the top of the cake and working your way down and around the sides. Use a cake bench scraper to smooth as you go.
- Chill the cake for 20 minutes in fridge or freezer to set the crumb coat.
- Remove cake from fridge and do a final coat of buttercream, using your cake bench scraper to smooth.
- Place the remaining green buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a small leaf tip and set aside.
- Place the peachy-pink tinted buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a petal tip (such as Wilton #104).
- Using the flower nail, pipe a dab of buttercream on top, then place a parchment paper square on top to adhere to nail. Using the petal tip, hold the piping bag with the tip’s wide side down. Squeeze out buttercream at the same time as you turn the flower nail to create a tight little ribbon rose; you can make them smaller by doing less rotations or larger by continuing to pipe more rotations.
- Remove the rose and parchment paper and place on a tray; once you’ve done all your roses, chill the tray in the freezer for 30 minutes to set the roses.
- The roses will now be pretty much frozen and easy to handle – gently place the roses on your cake in a border-like pattern, spacing them evenly.
- Using the piping bag fitted with the leaf tip, pipe leaves all around the ribbon roses (or in any pattern which you like!)