Maximum Overdrive birthday cake also known as: I turned 41! In my crotchety old mind I thought I was referring to this Sly Stallone movie all about ARM WRESTLING. But I guess I was actually referring to this Stephen King schlock-a-block 1980s movie Maximum Overdrive – all about when machines attack?? Perhaps this is a good time to mention that when I was young, I was a dorky little Stephen King obsessed child-nerd, devouring those monstrous tomes of cheap thin paper, scared as hell under my hot-bulb lamplight but Couldn’t. Stop. Reading. The. Delightful. Garbaggio! (This horrific short story still freaks me out when I’m swimming in lakes.)
So this cake … I was hemming and hawing over whether I felt like making a cake for my birthday … for the past few years all I’ve wanted to do is swim my face in a vat of crispy-fried garlic lime pepper Phnom Penh chicken wings and my favourite carrot cake from Whole Foods. But, it’s also fun to make a cake with no expectations. So, on the morning of my birthday I went for it! LOL. I had been wanting to make Molly’s funfetti cake since forever, and thought: TODAY IS THE DAY, FUNFETTI! If you happen to follow me on stinky old Instagram you might’ve seen me document the decorating… it started off really so casual cute, until I started literally throwing sprinkles at the sides. I am annoyed at sprinkle-siding. I kind of enjoy exactitude in my cake presentation so just willy-nilly-ing the sprinkles was bugging me. Because of that, I thought “Oh maybe adding hot pink white chocolate ganache drips will help.” The drips turned out sloppier than my intentions because they dripped onto a sprinkle which made the drip make hard rights and hard lefts, making them non-straight. So then I thought, “Well oh shit. I guess I will pipe one million drop stars to this beast.” At this point, it became Maximum Overdrive Birthday Cake, with adorable rainbow-sprinkle white cake layers, creamy vanilla swiss meringue buttercream and my fave raspberry jam!
Funfetti cake with swiss meringue buttercream and ganache drips
For the funfetti cake
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/4 cup flavorless oil
- 1 tb pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles, note from Molly: use only artificially coloured cynlinders, not nonpareils, sanding sugar, or anything naturally coloured
For the vanilla swiss meringue buttercream
- 1 cup egg whites, about 7 to 8 large eggs
- 21/4 cups granulated white sugar
- 21/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Seeds of 1 vanilla bean, optional
- Pinch of fine sea salt
For the ganache
- 1/2 cup best quality white chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- pink gel food colouring
Decoratives + filling
- 1 1/2 cups raspberry jam
- Rainbow sprinkles
- Fresh raspberries
Make the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease and line the bottoms of three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg whites, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the oil and the vanilla extract.
- With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry mixture and the milk in two or three alternating batches and mix until just barely combined, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the sprinkles until they’re evenly distributed. Distribute the batter evenly among the cake pans, spreading it out evenly using an offset spatula.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 22-24 minutes for cakes.
- Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the buttercream
- To ensure that the metal bowl of your stand mixer is completely clean, dry, and free of grease, give it a quick wipe out with a halved lemon, then rinse and dry it thoroughly.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the egg whites and the sugar on low to combine into a sugary slurry.
- Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Set the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a kind of double boiler, making sure the mixer bowl doesn’t touch the water.
- Heat the egg and sugar mixture until it reaches 160ºF on a thermometer or is hot to the touch, whisking occasionally. (This usually takes me about 5 to 7 minutes.)
- Carefully return the metal mixing bowl to the stand mixer, with the whisk attachment in place. Now, bring the mixer up to high speed and beat the mixture for 8 to 10 minutes, until you’ve created medium-stiff peaks and it’s a billowy, sticky, cloudy meringue. Whipping the meringue will also help cool down the bowl.
- Swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment. Make sure your meringue has cooled sufficiently before adding the butter—the bowl shouldn’t be hot, just slightly warm, if that. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter a few pieces at a time, until all the butter is incorporated—it will look like a thick soup at this point.
- Add the vanilla extract, if using, the vanilla bean seeds, along with the pinch of salt (and any small amount of gel color if so desired), then bring the speed up to medium-high and beat until a fluffy, silky, magical buttercream has formed, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Leftover buttercream can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature and gently beat again to re-fluff!
Make the Ganache
- Place the white chocolate chips in a small bowl.
- In a small sauce pan, heat up the heavy cream over medium heat until hot but not boiling, about two minutes.
- Pour the heavy cream over the white chocolate chips, ensuring full coverage. Let sit undisturbed for ten minutes.
- Gently whisk to combine. Add a tiny drop of pink gel food colouring if desired, whisking carefully.
- Power-chill ganache in the fridge or freezer for 15 minutes, checking for “dripping” consistency. If need be, continue to chill, checking every two minutes, until “drip-able.” – not too runny, not too thick.
- Leftover ganache can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature for dripping consistency.
Assemble the cake
- Once cake layers are completely cooled, begin assembling!
- Place a dollop of buttercream on a cake board or cake plate. Place the first cake layer on top. Level your layers if need be using a serrated knife. Fill a piping bag fitted with an open circle tip with buttercream. Pipe circles of buttercream on the outer exterior of the layer, leaving room for a generous amount of jam in the center. Fill the center with jam of your choice.
- Place the second layer on top, and again create a buttercream dam, then filling it with jam. (I rhymed!)
- Place the final layer on top, cut side down. Using an offset spatula, frost the entire exterior of the cake. Use a cake bench scraper to smooth the sides, if you have one.
- Chill the cake in the fridge or freezer for 10 minutes. Then, proceed with a second layer of frosting. Frost another generous layer of buttercream all over the cake. Use the cake bench scraper once again to smooth the sides.
- Place one cup of buttercream each into two separate bowls. Tint each bowl with the gel colour of your choice – I used electric purple and turquoise. Use a small spatula to mix each to combine. Place each colour in a piping bag fitted with an open star tip of your choice, for piping drop stars.
- Once the ganache is totally cooled but still drip-able, use a small spoon to scoop up tiny amounts of ganache to form the drips. I add the tiniest drip first to make sure the consistency is how I like it. If the drip goes down too fast, let it cool longer. If the drip gets stuck and doesn’t move, add more ganache to the same drip. Add drips to the entire cake, if desired.
- Take a handful of sprinkles and pat against the bottom sides of the cake, going all the way around to add sprinkles. Throw sprinkles at the sides of the cake.
- On the top of the cake, pipe drop stars in alternating colours and sizes, adding fresh raspberries and sprinkles where you see fit. Enjoy!