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.
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.
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.
This Classic White Layer Cake was published in 1995. Yippee, for your dining enjoyment – I will share it with you!
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!)).
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), plus more for dusting the pans
- 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
- Butter Frosting:*
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened but still cool
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar (1 pound)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- pinch table salt
- Raspberry-Almond Filling:*
- 1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds (2 1/2 ounces), toasted and chopped coarse
- 1/3 cup raspberry jam (seedless)
- 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.
- Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- For the Frosting:*
- 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.
- For the Filling:*
- 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.
- 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!!
- ** I used 3 - 8" cake pans instead of 2 - 9" pans and reduced the cooking time by only about 2 minutes.
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)).
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!
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.
*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.
- 4-5 c pure cane powdered sugar
- 1 stick butter softened
- 1/2 to 2/3 c whipped cream
- 1-2 t almond extract
- pinch of salt
- 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.
- Frost cake as directed in cake recipe