Elaborate Vanilla Birthday Cake

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This is a vanilla cake that I threw together for a birthday that looked perfect for instagram. It was quite laborious but made during quarantine when we had all the time in the world (which is hopefully over by the time this is being posted, but we’ll see).

Give this a shot to try and impress a crowd.

The cake base is slightly modified from Earl Grey Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla “Buttercream”

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

1/2 cup strained and cooled tea concentrate (I used a vanilla oolong tea – 2-3 tbsp tea + 1/2 cup boiling water)
1 3/4 cup cake flour
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 eggs
1 cup 1% milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Icing:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (softened)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk or cream

For the Ganache:

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz chocolate chips or dark chocolate

Directions:

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350° and spray 2-3 cake pans (depending on layers).

1) Steep tea (in filter) with 1/2 cup boiling water. Allow to cool

2) In a mixer combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix on medium speed until well combined (about a minute).

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3) Add butter, a few cubes at a time until the mixture becomes like coarse sand.

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4) Add eggs one at a time

5) Add milk, vanilla and tea concentrate and beat well. Scrape down as necessary

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6) Transfer to prepared cake pans and bake for 35-45 minutes (depending on 2 or 3 layers).

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Allow to cool for 1 hour before preparing icing.

For the icing

1) Cream butter. Add vanilla extract and mix well.

2) Add sugar 1 cup at a time, adding milk or cream if not combining

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Ice in between layers and assemble the cake. Trim off excess on the top to ensure layers are even. Use a spatula to smooth out the edges.

I used fondant to cover the cake as well so I only put a “crumb coat of icing” however, you can also transfer the cake the fridge or freezer to cool before adding a top coat of icing.

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For the Ganache:

Before putting ganache on top, make sure cake is cold (in fridge or freezer for > 1 hour.

Melt chocolate and heavy cream over a double boiler until combined. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes to cool.

Transfer to piping bag or ziplock and cut a small hole at the bottom.

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Pipe along the edges, pausing to allow ganache to drip down the sides of the cake. Cover the top in ganache and smooth out with knife.

For Decorations:

Top with anything you can find, laying it out in an organized manner. I used a mix of sprinkles, chocolate covered pretzels, candy canes, peanut butter cups, chocolate covered espresso beans and mini eggs. I also used icing to attach crushed mini eggs (using a cast iron skillet and a ziplock) around the edge.

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