As I mentioned in the previous post, some days ago we traveled to Bern, Switzerland, to be with my sister-in-law and her family.
Her beautiful family includes 2 of my favorite people in the world: my 3-year old niece (Thalia) and my 6-month old nephew (Konstantinos). I love those two more than I can tell, and I was even more happy that the trip coincided with the 3rd birthday of my niece!
As you understand, we could not leave the little girl without a homemade birthday cake!
So, keeping in mind the ideas of my sister-in-law and the tastes of my niece (vanilla cream, fresh strawberries, roasted almonds), I made my first birthday cake ever!
And they liked it!
More importantly, when my niece tried it she said: “Mmm, nostimo”, which means “Mmm, delicious”! I was ecstatic to hear this!
I don’t have step-by-step photos for this cake, but there are hardly any tricky/difficult steps.
For the yellow cake
(recipe lightly adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)
Note: I used an 11-inch (30cm) cake pan, therefore the 2 cakes came out as thin as I wanted them (approx 0.4 inches (1cm) thick). The recipe calls for 2 x 8- or 9-inch pans (20-22cm), which will give thicker cakes, possibly thick enough for each one to be sliced in 2 (4 in total).
Another note: I did not have cake flour that the recipe suggests, so I used all-purpose flour. The consistency and softness of the cakes was still really nice, but obviously feel free to use the cake flour instead.
120ml whole milk, room temp
4 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla powder and worked nicely)
200g all-purpose flour
300g granulated white sugar
7.5g baking powder
Pinch of salt
230g unsalted butter, cut in cubes and softened
- Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and butter+flour+line with parchment paper two cake pans (see note above). You can use one pan and bake one cake after the other.
- Whisk the milk with the eggs and the vanilla.
- In another bowl, whisk the flour together with the sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Start adding the butter in the flour mix and beat carefully at low speed.
- Add half of the milk mixture and beat at medium speed.
- Add the other half and beat in lower speed.
- Using the spatula do a final mix and split the batter in the 2 pans (or put the half in the pan and let the other wait).
- Bake the cakes at the middle position of the oven for about 20-25min. At 10min rotate the pan to bake evenly. Check with the toothpick to be sure it’s done.
- Let them cool in the pan and carefully flip on a wire rack.
It’s useful to know that if you are not planning to use the cakes immediately, you can simply wrap them with plastic and keep them at room temp (for 1 day), or even wrap them in plastic and foil and freeze them (for up to a month).
For the pastry cream (Crème patisserie)
(recipe from Argiro.gr, available only in Greek)
Note: This recipe made enough cream for one cream layer. If I had 3 cakes (two cream layers) I would double it.
250g whole milk
250g heavy cream
80g granulated white sugar
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder
3 egg yolks
20g corn flour
20g all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
- Put the milk with the heavy cream and the vanilla in a medium pot at medium heat.
- In a bowl whisk the egg, egg yolks, sugar and salt.
- Add the flour and the corn flour in the egg mixture and whisk well.
- Just before the milk boils, we start adding it slowly to the egg-flour mix, whisking continuously. You don’t want scrambled eggs so be careful here. I used a big spoon and added little by little the hot milk onto the eggs.
- We return the mixture in the pot, at medium heat, and continue whisking until the cream thickens. Be careful: it sticks and burns at the bottom of the pot in no time! When I see the first boiling bubbles appear I remove it from the fire.
- Transfer the cream in a bowl. Put a plastic wrap directly on the cream, touching it, until you use it. When it reaches room temp you can put it in the fridge until you are ready.
- Just before using it, whisk the cream to fluffy it up a bit.
For the whipped cream
(recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)
Made enough to cover the top and sides of the cake, plus some leftover you can use on fruits, etc.
Important Note: Did you know that if you beat the whipped cream past its thick point you end up with a separated mix of milk and butter? Well, I didn’t. I did not pay attention to the mixer for 20sec and it was enough.. So, keep an eye on it and when it’s thick stop the beating!
25g granulated white sugar
5g corn flour
300 + 50ml heavy cream, cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla powder
- In a small frying pan whisk the sugar with the corn flour and add 50ml of the heavy cream.
- Bring it to a simmer, whisking constantly until it thickens.
- Remove from heat and let it cool until it reaches room temp.
- Whip the rest of the heavy cream with the vanilla for about 30sec at low speed.
- Increase to medium speed and whip for another 30sec.
- Add the corn flour mixture and continue whipping until it thickens and forms peaks when you remove the mixer’s wire whip. See the note above!!
For the syrup
I used the syrup on each of the cake layers to moisten it and give some extra flavor.
50ml rum or brandy
50g granulated white sugar
Add all in a pot and bring them to boil.
So, I only have some photos from the assembling of the cake and the finished product:
You should allow it to cool in the fridge for some hours before serving.
Take a look inside:
It was a delicious cake. Fresh, as sweet as it should be, soft cake, smooth cream, juicy strawberries in the middle. Awesome!
Have a nice day!