Butter & Scotch’s birthday cake

Butter & Scotch’s birthday cake

By
From
The Desserts of New York
Serves
12–20
Photographer
Alicia Taylor

If you didn’t know that ‘birthday cake’ is a specific type of cake and not an allencompassing term, you’re not the only one. In New York, I was quick to find out. The much-loved layered cake, also known as funfetti, can now be found in every inspired shape and form, from cake truffles and cookies to sundaes and even croissants.

I became an immediate fan, particularly of the classic, where the delicious and good-looking combination of vanilla cake, buttery frosting and rainbow sprinkles really shines. In my opinion, the best birthday cake is found at Butter & Scotch, a bakery-bar where Allison Kave and Keavy Landreth pour a mean drink to go with the finest cake and pie.

This recipe is from their fantastic book, Butter & Scotch: Recipes from Brooklyn’s Favorite Bar and Bakery (Abrams Books), and they kindly shared it with a tip: ‘Serve with a crisp, dry cava or real-deal Champagne. It’s a great foil to the sweet, creamy richness.’ It is a birthday cake after all.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
455g cold unsalted butter
660ml milk
1 1/2 tablespoons natural vanilla extract
500g plain flour
50g baking powder
2 teaspoons fine salt
800g caster sugar
12 egg whites

Vanilla frosting

Quantity Ingredient
455g unsalted butter, chopped, softened
455g cream cheese, chopped, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons natural vanilla extract
2-3 drops red food colouring
rainbow sprinkles, to decorate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Grease three 23 cm round cake tins, then dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
  2. Chop the butter into small, pea-sized pieces and return to the fridge. Bring the milk to room temperature by zapping it in a microwave for 30 seconds, then add the vanilla and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the flour, baking powder, salt and 500 g of the sugar on low speed for 30 seconds to combine. Add the cold butter, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the butter breaks down and the flour mixture is the texture of wet sand. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the milk mixture.
  4. In a separate clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and remaining 300 g of sugar on high speed until soft peaks form. Gently fold the meringue into the flour and milk mixture until well combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared tins and bake, rotating halfway through, for 30–40 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer the tins to a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning the cakes out of the tins to cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the frosting, using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth, making sure to stop the mixer every so often to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl (it’s important the butter is nice and soft so you don’t get any clumps of cold butter when piping the frosting). Add the cream cheese, one-quarter at a time, beating on medium speed until well combined. Beat in the vanilla and food colouring, then reduce the speed to low and gradually add the icing sugar. Crank up the speed to high and beat for 30 seconds or until well combined and fluffy.
  7. Using a large serrated knife, trim the tops off the cakes to make them level. Frost and stack the three layers, then frost the sides. Decorate the sides with rainbow sprinkles.

Butter & Scotch Tip

  • We decorate the top of our birthday cake with frosting rosettes, which you can do too by making another batch of vanilla frosting, putting it in a piping bag fitted with a 6 mm star nozzle and piping the rosettes around the edge.
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Desserts
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