Cook’s Illustrated Perfect White Almond Layer Cake with Almond Buttercream ((it’s as if wedding bells ring with every bite!))

Cook’s Illustrated Perfect White Almond Layer Cake with Almond Buttercream ((it’s as if wedding bells ring with every bite!))

I am so thrilled and excited to have the opportunity to share this recipe with you today. I recently made this cake for Gracie’s birthday and if you are following me on Instagram or Facebook, you know all about that! I practically bragged about how good this cake was. 

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I stumbled across this recipe while searching on Pinterest for “the very best white cake”. A blog conducted a test of cake recipes and sure enough, this recipe was the winner. However, the recipe was not shared and was linked to an Amazon page selling a Cook’s Illustrated cookbook.

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Well, lucky for me – the lack of recipe was not a problem for me! I happen to have a subscription to the Cook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Country and the Test Kitchen website – which gives me full access to all recipes old and new along with valuable info about kitchen equipment and tools.

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This Classic White Layer Cake was published in 1995. Yippee, for your dining enjoyment – I will share it with you!

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When I made this cake, I reserved 3 cups of cake batter and tinted it. Then I dolloped in the cake pans, swirled and baked. It was a simple way to make this cake extra girly ((perfect for LaLa’s birthday!)).

Classic White Layer Cake
Serves 15
This white cake recipe is by far the most delicious and perfect white cake I have ever eaten. It is truly wedding cake worthy! Topped off with a buttercream worthy of the cake and you have just tasted heaven.
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
25 min
556 calories
79 g
61 g
26 g
5 g
15 g
149 g
205 g
59 g
1 g
10 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
149g
Servings
15
Amount Per Serving
Calories 556
Calories from Fat 224
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 26g
39%
Saturated Fat 15g
73%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 61mg
20%
Sodium 205mg
9%
Total Carbohydrates 79g
26%
Dietary Fiber 1g
4%
Sugars 59g
Protein 5g
Vitamin A
14%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
10%
Iron
10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Classic White Cake
  1. Nonstick cooking spray
  2. 2 1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), plus more for dusting the pans
  3. 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  4. 6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature
  5. 2 teaspoons almond extract
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
  8. 4 teaspoons baking powder
  9. 1 teaspoon table salt
  10. 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
  11. Butter Frosting:*
  12. 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened but still cool
  13. 4 cups confectioners' sugar (1 pound)
  14. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  15. 1 tablespoon whole milk
  16. pinch table salt
  17. Raspberry-Almond Filling:*
  18. 1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds (2 1/2 ounces), toasted and chopped coarse
  19. 1/3 cup raspberry jam (seedless)
For the Cake
  1. Set oven rack in middle position. (If oven is too small to cook both layers on a single rack, set racks in upper-middle and lower-middle positions.) Heat oven to 350°. Spray two 9-inch round cake** pans with nonstick cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.
  2. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.
  3. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.
  4. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.
  5. Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.
  6. Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Reinvert onto additional wire racks. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
  7. For the Frosting:*
  8. Beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed until sugar is moistened. Increase speed to medium-high (high if using handheld mixer); beat, stopping twice to scrape down bowl, until creamy and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. Avoid overbeating, or frosting will be too soft to pipe.
  9. For the Filling:*
  10. Before assembling cake, set aside 3/4 cup of the frosting for decoration. Spread small dab of frosting in center of cake plate to anchor cake, and set down one cake layer. Combine 1/2 cup of remaining frosting with almonds in small bowl and spread over first layer. Carefully spread jam on top, then cover with second cake layer. Spread frosting over top and sides of assembled cake. Pipe reserved frosting around perimeter of cake at the base and the top. Cut the cake into slices and serve.
Notes
  1. I did not make the frosting or the filling for Gracie's birthday cake. I have a buttercream I LOVE and am partial to that recipe. Really, I can practically make buttercream with my eyes closed and recipes are a little hard for me to stick to so I took a detour at this point. BUT, I wanted to share the complete recipe with you because it is such a valuable & perfect recipe!!
  2. ** I used 3 - 8" cake pans instead of 2 - 9" pans and reduced the cooking time by only about 2 minutes.
beta
calories
556
fat
26g
protein
5g
carbs
79g
more
Adapted from Published May 1, 1995. From Cook's Illustrated.
Food for a Year: https://foodforayear.com/
Preparing the cake pans AND lining them with parchment are an important part of the success of this recipe! Who has time for a stuck cake?? As you can see it the photos above, fitting each pan with the right sized parchment sheet is a simple task. Trace and cut – just like you learned in kindergarten.

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Want to add a little bling to your cake – but don’t have professional skills?? Well, neither do I – but no one needs to know that. All I did was freehand draw the age we were celebrating and place the stencil on the cake ((of course clean, sturdy paper is important)).

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Pour the sprinkles all over the top of the cake, dust the sprinkles off of the stencil and gently remove it from the cake. Gorgeous, simple perfection!

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Here are a few additional notes from the Test Kitchen regarding this recipe:

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:

We designed our white cake recipe without the dryness and the holes and tunnels common to many recipes we had tried. Every traditional white cake recipe calls for stiffly beaten egg whites folded into the batter at the end. We began to suspect that it was the beaten egg whites that were forming the large air pockets and those unsightly holes in the baked cakes. We solved this problem by mixing the egg whites with the milk before beating them into the flour-and-butter mixture. The cake was not only fine-grained and hole-free, but, to our surprise, it was also larger and lighter than the ones we’d prepared with beaten whites.

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*If you have forgotten to bring the milk and egg white mixture to room temperature, set the bottom of the glass measure containing it in a sink of hot water and stir until the mixture feels cool rather than cold, around 65 degrees. Cake layers can be wrapped and stored for one day; frosting can be covered with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for several hours. Once assembled, the cake should be covered with an inverted bowl or cake cover and refrigerated. Under its coat of frosting, it will remain fresh for up to three days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. There is enough frosting to pipe a border around the base and top of the cake. If you want to decorate the cake more elaborately, you should make one and a half times the frosting recipe. You may also substitute lemon curd for the raspberry jam in the filling. If desired, finish the sides of the cake with 1 cup of sliced almonds.

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Simple Whipped Almond Buttercream
A simple buttercream perfect for the most delicious white layer cake!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
4527 calories
912 g
270 g
99 g
2 g
63 g
1064 g
188 g
905 g
4 g
30 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1064g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 4527
Calories from Fat 874
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 99g
153%
Saturated Fat 63g
314%
Trans Fat 4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 26g
Cholesterol 270mg
90%
Sodium 188mg
8%
Total Carbohydrates 912g
304%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 905g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
61%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
17%
Iron
19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 4-5 c pure cane powdered sugar
  2. 1 stick butter softened
  3. 1/2 to 2/3 c whipped cream
  4. 1-2 t almond extract
  5. pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Using a stand mixer, slowly whip powdered sugar and butter together. Once butter and sugar are combined, slowly add whipped cream while whipping the buttercream starting on medium-low speed and working up to medium-high. Continue adding cream until desired consistency in reached, stopping every so often to scrap sides. Add almond extract and a pinch of salt, whip to combine.
  2. Frost cake as directed in cake recipe
beta
calories
4527
fat
99g
protein
2g
carbs
912g
more
Food for a Year: https://foodforayear.com/
Oh – want to see what the inside of my cake looked like? Wonder no more:IMG_0293
 “Reprinted with permission from Cooks Illustrated Magazine. For more information about this magazine or other publications by Americas Test Kitchen call 800-526-8442. Selected articles and recipes, as well as subscription information, are also available online at www.cooksillustrated.com


5 thoughts on “Cook’s Illustrated Perfect White Almond Layer Cake with Almond Buttercream ((it’s as if wedding bells ring with every bite!))”

  • I see the 2 buttercream frosting recipes. Can you tell me which one will work better for a wedding cake?

  • I may have to invent a reason to make this soon!! I love, love, love a good white cake! I love how you colored it and decorated it too, so fun! I love almonds, but I don’t reallycare for almond extract. Can you really taste it in this recipe? I wonder if I could omit it? Thanks for sharing this!

    • Hi Jenni – thank you for the question. You can totally sub vanilla in place of the almond extract. The other option would be to half the almond and add vanilla to lessen the almond and see if you like it that way.
      I have noticed most white cakes (specifically wedding) have a touch of almond flavoring. But really you could leave both almond and vanilla completely out and it would be a lovely butter cake! Glad you like my swirls and sprinkles- I had fun making it! 🙂

In true show & tell form: "I am open for questions & comments"