One thing I have learned in my experiences as a pastry chef is that any time you create a dessert that brings up “food memory”, you’ve got yourself a winner.
Warm peach pie. Sugar cookies with pink icing. Freshly baked cinnamon rolls. All the things you ate as a kid, or at your grandmother’s house.
They transport us back to a simpler, more care-free time. When I was young, my mom used to take us to a teeny hole-in-the-wall cookie shop. I always got the sugar cookie, slathered in about a half-inch of frosting and covered in sprinkles. Do you know what I would do first? I’d eat the frosting off of the top of the cookie, with my non-sensitive child teeth.
But I still get excited when I see sweets decked out with sprinkles. They remind me of eating my heart’s content of sugar, of birthday parties, and of being a kid.
A few weeks ago, my friend Dane was quizzing me on cake baking from scratch. He’s a huge fan of the my high altitude-friendly chocolate stout cake. I mentioned making homemade “funfetti” cakes before. His eyes got a little big as I explained it to him. I think it was the sprinkles.
Yesterday we celebrated his birthday and a homemade “funfetti” cake made a splashy appearance. I am proud to say it was the first taste of cake for our friends Andrea and Lane’s adorable daughter, Taylor.
While this is the homemade, honest version of the popular cake mix cake we grew up adoring, it is still a sweet cake. The buttermilk adds a much needed bit of tang, but use a light hand on whatever frosting you choose to deck it out with. Lightly sweetened whipped cream would be delicious. But if you are serving this to children, I suppose you could go as heavy on the frosting as you wanted. They’ll eat it all off anyways.
How to make this high altitude adjusted recipe:
White Layer Cake (adapted from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather)
- 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup cake flour
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- ½ cup sprinkles
- Preheat your oven to 350 F.
- Grease and line three 9" round baking pans with parchment paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
- Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Follow with the vanilla extract.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the batter and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
- Add about half of the buttermilk and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
- Continue adding dry and wet ingredients alternately, scraping the bowl down and beating until incorporated after each addition.
- End with the dry ingredients. Fold in the sprinkles. The batter will be thick and glossy.
- Portion the batter between the three cake pans.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are a light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Set the cake pans on racks to cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes and cool completely.
- The cakes can then be layered and assembled with your choice of frosting.
Note: This recipe was adjusted for high altitude baking. To make a sea level, increase sugar to 2 1/3 cups, substitute cake flour for all of the flour, increase baking soda to 3/4 teaspoon, and increase the baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons. The baking time will be longer.