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White choc vanilla bean cake

April 8, 2011

Though I’m enjoying all these triple-layer cakes, thanks to my new book I so often quote at the moment, I really do need to get myself three cake pans of the same size. Much as I love, erm, “trimming” all the layers, and playing around with my new torting contraption, a) I’ll get diabetes soon and b) nothing beats trying to ice a cake that is near-perfectly even to start with. I had more fun with this recipe than the recent blueberry cake, mainly as (just as expected) frosting made with just egg whites tastes better, and even better with melted white chocolate mixed in. The speckles of vanilla thanks to an entire pod thrown in really make the cake look elegant, and hey, who can resist getting to play around with an entire cakes-worth of white chocolate shavings?


This recipe is taken from Sky High again (see above link), though I chose chocolate buttercream inside, and used white chocolate shavings and a packet of Minstrels for decoration.


  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder plus 1/2 tsp salt
  • Seeds of 1 whole vanilla pod
  • 9 oz butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups milk
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Chocolate filling:

  • 100g butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp cocoa

White choc frosting:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 100g white chocolate (+ 100g turned into shavings, using a potato peeler)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 40 mL water
  • 8 oz butter
  • chocolate minstrels, to decorate

To make the cake, grease and line three 7-8 inch pans, and preheat the oven to 350 oF (180 oC). To a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla seeds. Add 1 cup of the milk along with the butter and mix until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the vanilla extract and the rest of the milk. Add this to the flour mixture in 2-3 goes, scraping down the mixture into the bowl well. Don’t overmix; once it’s all evenly incorporated it’s ready. Divide the cake among the three pans (or two if you’re me. You’re probably not me and therefore have the right equipment. I’m envious), then bake for 30 mins (mine took 37). They should be slightly golden and a skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean. Leave to cool on a wire cooling rack.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate buttercream filling very simply by mixing the cocoa, icing sugar, and 100g butter together in a bowl with an elexctic mixer. Add a little milk if needed  to loosen the consistency. Set aside. To make the white chocolate frosting you’re going to need the thermometer again. Before making the syrup, melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave. Have the egg whites ready in a separate bowl, and the mixer set up to go. Once you’re ready, make the syrup to the soft-ball stage, as done for the blueberry-lemon cake (see here). As soon as it’s ready, begin mixing the eggs, simultaneously pouring the sugar syrup in, down the side of the bowl. Keep beating until the egg whites form a merengue (mine took quite a while). Once you’re there, you can mix in the butter, piece by piece, then finally the white chocolate.

To assemble, spread half the chocolate buttercream onto the bottom layer, place the second layer on top, and repeat. Trim the edges of the cake if needed. To frost, spread the white chocolate frosting over the top and sides with an offset spatula or palette knife. Drag a scraper gently over the top to get an even finish. Finally, take handfuls of chocolate shavings and press into the sides of the cake (this is messy). Save on waste by eating the rest of the shavings (try to avoid losing them to the floor for this purpose). Try not to eat all the minstrels before you’ve decided how many should go on the cake, it does look rather unprofessional with gaping holes. Or just buy a second pack…

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