Welcome to The Cookie Monster, a blog about the most marvelous, versatile, and beloved bakeable item in the land: The cookie. You may see occassional forays into pies, bars, and other sweet treats, but my main focus is and has always been on the bite sized genius behind my very favorite snack. Happy Baking!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lemon Buttercream Birthday Cake

Memorial Day weekend, 2010 was filled with friends, food, beer and a birthday for my little buddy Ashley, daughter of Scott and Jess. Mama Jess asked me to bake a cake for the occasion, so I was happy to oblige! After saying yes, I realized I had very limited cake baking experience. Nonetheless, I wanted to make something with a little bit of "wow" factor.

Given my limited artistic ability, I thought keeping things simple in the decoration department was the best bet. So, I decided to do a 3 tiered cake, with bright pink frosting. I found some cute little silk flowers at the crafts store that I could stick on there, and I set out on the challenge.Cake Ingredients:
18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda I left work a little early to get the process started, and realized when i got home that I'd left the recipe on my desk. awesome. Thanks to my buddy and co-worker Kim, for relaying the directions to me over the phone. This is what I was working with. Nice handwriting self.Per usual, cream together the butter and the sugar. For cakes you should let the mixer go a little longer than usual. Allowing the mixture to get very light and fluffy. Next, add in the sour cream, lemon zest and vanilla.Once everything is looking fluffy and delicious, add in the eggs, two at a time. Don't add the next two eggs until the first two have been completely mixed in.

Next, sift together the dry ingredients. Slowly add them to the mixer, with the speed on low. Mix until just combined. Do one last mix by hand to make sure all of the flour is blended.

Divide the batter evenly into your greased and floured cake pans. I actually planned on only making a 2-tiered cake with a 10 inch pan and an 8 inch pan, but I thought it wasn't impressive looking enough. I ended up making another batch of batter (1/3 of the original recipe) and baking a 6 inch tier as well.

Spread the batter evenly on the top of the cake pan so it bakes consistently.

Bake in a 350 degree over for the following times: 10 inch: 45 minutes. 8 inch: 35 minutes. 6 inch: 30 minutes. Check cakes with a toothpick, they're done when it comes out clean.

Allow the cakes to cool enough so that they're easy to handle. I went around the edge of each cake with a knife to make sure they didn't stick, then did a quick flip to get them out onto a cooling rack. At this point, i began the "leveling process" to make the top of each cake flat enough to stack.I bought a special "cake leveling" tool but I found that a big serrated bread knife worked out better. I slowly and patiently levelled off the cake, and made sure to taste some of the yummy scraps :)All three cakes levelled and ready to go, I chilled them for a couple of hours for ease of frosting :)

While the cakes chilled together in the fridge, i went about making the buttercream frosting:

Frosting Ingredients:
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted
9 tablespoons milk
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
14 drops pink food coloring (rose petal shade)

Cream the butter first so its soft and even. add the sugar, and blend together until well combined. Then add in the milk, vanilla, and food coloring. Let the mixer go for a couple of minutes on medium speed until you get something like this....

I found a little hand mixing to be beneficial after the fact, to get and clump of hot pink coloring incorporated evenly. With my big VAT f frosting ready to go, I went ahead and frosted each layer one at a time. I reserved some extra frosting in case of any mistakes, or tragedies during cake transit....

With all three layers frosted, i chilled them a little longer in the fridge so the frosting would be less smudgey. This worked out really well and I found that they were pretty easy to handle. Carefully centering each cake, it was time to stack....

I used a couple of plastic "lollipop sticks" from the crafts store to brace the cake in the middle. I knew it was in for about a 90 minutes ride in Joe's truck so I wanted to give it the best shot I could ;) When all was stacked. I whipped up some white decorating frosting, and started piping little "beads" around the connection points on the cake.....


At this point I was pretty pumped that things were looking good and my cake wasn't a hot mess. Since my frosting-writing skills are limited, I decided to trace out my letters with a toothpick in the pink frosting as a guideline....

Then I very carefully started to write....Everything's spelled correctly right?

After the "Happy Birthday Ashley" met my approval (this took several attempts, and lots of scraping off the top of the cake and re-frosting with pink) I started to stick my little silk flowers into the cake, which really had a great effect.

And then, I admired it for a while.... and took quite a few pictures, in case I were to drop it while trying to get it into the cooler...

The final product!

And I'm happy to report it made it to the birthday girl in one piece :) No emergency fixes needed...
Happy Birthday Ash!


  1. great job! next time i am calling you instead of "icing on the cake"

  2. don't let Gianna see this you'll be making her next bday cake....awesome job....
    luv, birdie