Vanilla Cake (from scratch!) with Kahlua Buttercream Frosting

A baking first for me: cake from scratch.

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It was my mother’s birthday last week, but yesterday was when her parents came over for birthday cake. I offered to make her cake, and after some suggestions we decided that we’d try to make a vanilla cake from scratch. She had a recipe in her cookbook for a white cake; she had never tried it, so I figured that I’d give it a go.

The recipe was originally using almond and vanilla extracts; we’re not fans of almond flavoring, so we just replaced it with more vanilla.

We got mixed reviews on the cake. I’m not sure if it’s because we didn’t let it warm up to room temperature (it had been in our freezing sunroom), but the cake seemed dense and thick. Look in the photo below to see what a cut of the cake looked like inside. The batter seemed oddly sticky, whereas I’m used to runny batter when using mixes. Taste-wise, it tasted good. Nice vanilla taste, and wasn’t too sweet.

UPDATE: We put our cake slices in the microwave for a few seconds, and the cake was perfectly fluffy and light, so our problem was that we chilled/refrigerated the cake. I suggest keeping your cake room temperature as long as you can.

I baked this cake on a jelly roll pan, and then cut it into thirds to make a three-layer cake.

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White Vanilla Cake

2 3/4 cups sifted flour
4 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
2 t vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter
4 egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease and flour pans. (Or, if you’re baking a cake like how I did, a sheet of parchment paper on a jelly roll pan will be enough.)

2. Sift flour with the baking powder and salt in one bowl.

3. In another bowl, combine butter with vanilla and cream until soft. Work in 1 cup of sugar until fluffy.

4. In a third bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, then beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar.

5. Add the flour and milk alternately to the butter mixture. Fold in the egg whites into the batter gently until egg whites are blended. Pour into pans.

6. Bake for 25 minutes or until it tests done, when a knife comes out clean. (If you bake in a jelly roll pan, it will be done in approximately 15 minutes.)

… but I’m going to guess that you’re more excited for the frosting. Boozy frosting? Yes please!

When I first made this recipe last week for cupcakes, I followed the recipe exactly. The Kahlua was DEFINITELY present, and perhaps a bit too boozy (like, I could feel it hitting me and making me feel a bit buzzed haha). When I made the frosting this weekend for the cake, I omitted one tablespoon of Kahlua and substituted it with one tablespoon of vanilla extract; it tasted much smoother, not as boozy, but still incredibly delicious. I imagine this frosting being great on Devil’s Food cake. Oooo baby!

Kahlua Buttercream Frosting

1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups (plus extra) powdered sugar
3 T Kahlua
1 t vanilla extract
3 T instant coffee granules

1. Cream the butter until smooth, then gradually add the sugar. Start off with the initial 1.5 cups.

2. In a small bowl, combine the Kahlua, vanilla, and coffee granules until the coffee dissolves.

3. Add the liquid to the butter-sugar mixture and mix well. Add additional sugar until the desired consistency is achieved.

* To frost the cake above, I doubled this recipe. *

For a bonus, here are the cupcakes I made last week for my mom’s birthday-day. It’s French Vanilla cake mix, with a Ferrero Rocher baked in the middle. Kahlua Buttercream on top. This was pretty much heaven in cupcake form. PERFECTION.

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4 thoughts on “Vanilla Cake (from scratch!) with Kahlua Buttercream Frosting

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