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Friday, January 23, 2015

Let Them Eat Fantastic Funfetti Cake!




This is an amazing cake.  I'm not kidding.  It's pure joy.  This cake can redeem lost souls, end wars, and even show health-conscious foodies the goodness of sugar.  I've been down the road of less than stellar cakes in a vain attempt to create a cake that has some health benefits.  Each of my experimental cakes was a disaster.  They weren't light and fluffy, with a moist tender crumb.  They weren't loaded with sugary sweetness and covered with sprinkles.  They weren't bliss to behold and heaven to eat.  They weren't anything like the sweet perfection of this one.  This is the cake that brought me back to the sweet side.  This is the best confetti cake (or funfetti cake--whichever term you prefer) you will ever eat.

I love sweets.  I love cookies and brownies and chocolate.  I love baking every kind of fluffy wonderful delight.  But after reading about the evils of sugar, I decided to try to create healthy desserts.  Certain desserts are fun to experiment with, cookies.  But there are other ones that shouldn't be tampered with, like cake.  Last year, on my birthday, I made two 6-inch cakes.  They were my attempt at "healthy" cakes, utilizing healthy whole wheat (and even a little sprouted wheat) flours and substituting coconut palm sugar for cane sugar.  One was vanilla and the other was chocolate.  Or rather, one was tree bark flavored with a hint of vanilla and the other was dirt flavored with a hint of chocolate.  The frostings for these cakes were even more difficult to manage.  In the end, they were edible.  The chocolate was even fairly okay.  But they were definitely weird.  And definitely not cake, the way it's supposed to taste.

Cake is meant to be a cloud of sugar. Cake is pure delight.  Cake is a celebration on a plate.  When you try to make cake healthy, it ceases to be any of those things.  And so, when my brother's birthday rolled around, I was ready to delve in and create a wonderfully sweet, terribly unhealthy cake.  My funfetti cake had to be the perfect white fluffy cake recipe--not too light and airy, but not thick and dense either.  It had to be accompanied by my favorite frosting recipe.  And it also had to have something more.  Something exciting, like confetti cookie crumble between the layers!  I found my perfect recipes and put them together to make this fantastic cake.  Although I may still experiment with teff flour in my ginger snap cookies or sprouted wheat flour in my dark chocolate chip cookies, cake is cake.  It is the almost sacred expression of pure indulgence.  So, go ahead and indulge yourself!


Fantastic Funfetti Cake

Birthday Cake Crumb
Adapted from Hummingbord High, who adapted it from Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook
Ingredients
(makes about 2 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
1/4 cup grape seed oil (I used canola oil)
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 300 (F).

Combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until well combined.

Add the oil and vanilla and paddle again to distribute. The wet ingredients will act as a glue to help the dry ingredients form small clusters; continue paddling until that happens.

Spread the clusters on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch; they will dry and harden as they cool.

Let the crumbs cool completely before using. Stored in an airtight container, the crumbs will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.
Fluffy Vanilla Funfetti Cake
Adapted from Sweetapolita

5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 whole egg
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2-1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour, sifted
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 24 even pieces
3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease, flour, and line with parchment three round 8-inch pans.  (The original recipe calls for two 8-inch rounds, but I used three for this cake.)

In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine and stir the egg whites, whole egg, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the butter one piece at a time, about every 10 seconds. Continue to mix on low until the mixture is a fine crumbly texture. Add milk, and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and begin to add the egg mixture in 3 separate batches, mixing until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. (You want to ensure that the batter is homogenous.)  Fold in the sprinkles.

Divide the batter into the three pans, spreading it evenly with a small offset palette knife. If you have a kitchen scale, weigh to ensure even layers.  Bake until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs when inserted into the center, about 30 minutes. Be so careful to not over-bake. Check cake at 20 minutes, but not before, and then set the timer for 5 minute intervals. Let cool on racks for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a small metal spatula, and invert onto greased wire racks. Gently turn cakes back up, so the tops are up and cool completely.

Kathy's Buttercream Frosting
adapted from Wilton

3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
3/4 cup shortening
3 teaspoons clear vanilla extract 
6 cups confectioner's sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk 
Cream together butter and shortening.  Add vanilla.  Beat in confectioner's sugar one cup at a time.   Add milk, beating until light and fluffy.  For a stiffer frosting, use less milk.  For a creamier frosting, use more milk.

Assembling the Cake


1.  Divide the cookie crumbs into three parts.  
2.  Spread some frosting on top of the first cake layer.  Then sprinkle a third of the cookie crumble on top of that.  
3.  Place the second cake layer on top of the first, pressing down gently to push the cookies crumble into the frosting of the first layer. 
4.  Frost the second layer, and sprinkle a third of the cookie crumble on top.
5.  Place the third layer on top of the second, pressing gently. 
6.  Frost the rest of the cake and pile the rest of the cookie crumble on top.
7.  Decorate with extra sprinkles.
8.  Indulge!!!