Youv’e gotta start somewhere,
I’m glad you are here. This is the first recipe I worked out in my hybrid line. Finding the perfect white cake recipe is probably the hardest recipe of all to find as a cake baker. It seems that almost anything could make my batter go wonky, ya know? After testing what seemed like 20 recipes with no avail, my very first paid order was on the books and there was no more room for failure. I went to what I knew for sure would work- cake mix.
By no means did I or do I use the recipe on the box but instead, I use mix as a complimenting ingredient making my recipes hybrid. You would be surprised how creative you can get and how many different baking practices can be incorporated even while using a bit of mix. I really enjoy making intriguing flavor combinations, however, it is even more enjoyable when I don’t have to cut through all of the extra guesswork if I were baking completely from scratch.
My hat’s off to all of the bakers who can consistantly bake scratch cakes flawlessly. On the same token, I know that many bakers would scoff at the mere mention of cake mix as an ingredient. In fact, cakes of this adaptation are used more commonly than most people realise. There are many bakeries and novices that depend on cake mix, but I’m taking it a step further and infusing my culinary knowledge into each composition.
Laying the foundation
This vanilla recipe is the base to 90% of all of my cake recipes. Although this list is comprehensive, I’m just laying foundation so no matter the skill level, any baker can understand, confidently learn and hopefully venture out.
This recipe makes
3x 6”cake rounds + 3x 4” cake rounds / 2x 8” cake rounds/ 2x 9” cake rounds/ 1x 10” cake round/ 36 cupcakes
This cake in all of its renditions can be stacked 9 tiers high without compromise, filled with fruit fillings and withstand the weight of fondant. Recipe can be doubled to make more cake rounds as well as baked up as cupcakes without any alterations.
Baking pans, NOT FLUTED
Liquid measuring cup
Extra bowl for sifting
Hand Mixer/ Stand mixer
Bakers Joy/ baking spray
Big Laugh Kitchen Hybrid Recipe
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
18 ounces white cake mix
1 1/3 water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 egg whites, 1 whole egg
8 ounces sour cream
1 recipe Italian Meringue buttercream
Prepare your work station by making sure you have all of your tools and ingredients measured out and within arms reach.
Preheat your oven to 325F
With a sharpened pencil and scissors at station, place one baking pan of desired size over parchment paper, trace and cut out. Cut extra parchment to set aside for the decorating/ assmbly process. Repeat depending on how many layers of cake you plan on baking. Prepare pans by adding parchment into each on and spraying with baking spray or greasing and flouring.
Add all measured wet ingredients to mixing bowl, gently mix only until incororated.
Set sifter over extra bowl, add measured dry ingredients into sifter to remove any lumps.
When dry ingredients have been sifted, add to wet mix, mix gently on medium speed until fully incorporated. Take care not to overmix.
Divide batter into prepared baking pans filling them to the halfway point. Tap pans on surface to force out any air bubbles.
Place pans on top rack of preheated oven. Make sure that pans are not touching eachother or too close to the sides to avoid uneven cooking or burning.
Bake for 25-27 minutes. Test for doneness with toothpick or cake tester.
Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto cooling rack or wrapping.
Tools for assembly
Non slip mat, cut a piece slightly smaller than your cake
Acrylic discs or cake boards the size of cake being iced
Small paring knife
Icing using the upside down method and types of buttercream
This technique may be intimidating at first for a beginner, it was for me. However, I can assure you, if you practice often it will become exciting. It is exactly what it sounds like, icing a cake upside down. I prefer this method because it yeilds the sharpest edges by nature of gravity working with the acrylics. This method can be also used with a ganache finish as well should you chose to forgo buttercream. The upside down method doesn’t fair well with American buttercream because it crusts instead of hardens like a meringue based buttercream or ganache finish. Furthermore, this icing method will not work with cream cheese icing or whipped cream because of its soft nature. Meringue based buttercreams can also seem intimidating however I find them to be the most rewarding not only as far as decorating with but byfar having the best taste.
Prepare station again for decorating having on hand slip proof mat, offset spatula, bench scraper, turntable, bread knife, acrylics or corresponding cake rounds, buttercream, clean towel and plate for cake scraps
Lay slip proof mat on center of turntable placing acrylic or cake board over top. If you are using a cake board, have the grease proof side facing up. If you are using an acrylic, have engraved side facing down not to indent the brand name into your icing.
With your offset spatula, dab a bit of buttercream onto your acrylic round to act as an adheisive for your parchment paper. Lay parchment over buttercream and smooth it down . You will be icing over the parchment and don’t want to tear, crinkle or get buttercream underneath because this will be the top of your cake.
Plop down a spoonful of buttercream onto the parchment lined cake board or acrylic, smooth with offset spatula as evenly as possible
Using your bread knife, cut off the domed tops of your cakes as evenly as possible, doing so will increase the overall stability of your cake. If you find your cuts aren’t completely level, you can attempt to fill the deficit with buttercream and filling.
Lay cake layer, bottom side down on top of buttercream. Center as best as possible.
Plop another spoonful of buttercream onto cake layer and spread evenly. A cake tier usually consists of 2-4 layers of cake and 2-3 layers of buttercream/ filling. Build cake tier depending on your desired height.
Place your last cake layer on top of buttercream/ filling buttom side up so it its flat and free of crumbs. You will not need to add a cake board to the cake yet. Smear a bit of buttercream onto cake layer to adhere another piece of parchment. On top of the parchment, smear one more bit of buttercream that you may adhere the top cake board or acrylic. You can see this process here
Icing the cake doesn’t have to be a glamorous process, that is why you have a clean towel on hand . Using a rubber spatula, add buttercream to cake all the way until it is covered.
Using your bench scraper held at a 90 degree angle to the turntable, gently press it against the cake , rotating the turntable with your free hand until the cake becomes smooth. You lmay find this takes a few passes. If deficits are revealed, add more buttercream and check the placement of the acrylics for sliding.
When cake is iced to your desired smoothness, place in fridge for an hour to chill.
To remove boards/ acrylics, it is best to do so with a hot paring knife. You can heat your knife by boiling water and pouring it into a coffe mug and having it rest there in between uses.
Voila! You have a beautifully iced cake.
This recipe is extremely versitile and if you follow me on instagram, you can see all of the ways I’ve been able to change it up. Besides the versitility of this recipe, there are many things that I have come to appreciate such as how high it can be stacked without compromise (9 tiers to be exact) so bakeries can use this recipe to build out their offerings and still make many tiers. Furthurmore, because it doesn’t fail due to the mix addition there is an enormous amount of wiggle room for the baker who likes to experiment as well as the newbie and youngster who wants to bake but can’t get all the kinks out.
Quite honestly, baking is means to an end for me, I love to decorate. For that reason, the trying and failing, trying and failing isn’t really worth my time or resources. It is however important to me that my cake tastes and looks good, not one or the other. That is why I play on my culinary skills rather than “astute” baking skills to bring flavor to life within my cakes.