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Perfect White Cake (Aka: Emily’s Shower Cake)

July 29, 2010

Friends, whether you’re a “white cake type person” or not, you’ll be needing to try this cake STAT.  Not a single person who has tried it hasn’t said it was to die for.  I myself say that and I’m not a white cake type person.  Nor is my husband.  And he ate three pieces after the baby shower.

As with almost any cake you’ll see here, we start a few days ahead of when you plan to serve it.  Why?

-Cakes are more moist when they’ve had a few days in the freezer.

-Cakes are much easier to frost when they’re straight out of the freezer.

-Baking the cake ahead of time gives you a day to be “technical” and a completely fresh day to be “creative.”  Believe me, many a creative notion has been squashed by the fatigue of hours and the sudden need to “just get it done.”  We don’t want that.  This is supposed to be fun!


Start (a few days ahead) with the technical side.  Here’s what you’ll need.  Its so basic!!

~1/8 C. Oil (I like canola)   ~a white cake mix   ~1 C. flour   ~1 C. sugar   ~real vanilla and almond extracts (a teaspoon of each)   ~1 1/3 C. water   ~fo’ eggs   ~1 C. of sour cream   ~3/4 tsp. salt



Now, this next step is also technical… but important!  Trust me when I say DONT skip it.  (Unless you are in the hurry of the century and don’t care AT ALL how the finished cake will look… in which case I’d venture to say this blog might annoy you to the extreme.)




This is the best and only way (that I have discovered) to assure that your cake  A) will come OUT of the pan  and B)  will come out of the pan without any chunks missing.  Trace the wax paper… just do it.  Thanks.




Now spray it with cookin’ spray and sprankle it with a little dusting of your cake mix.





Grab a large bowl and whisk your dry ingredients together.  You know the drill.


A very important flavor agent.  This is where the “amaretto” in the title comes from.


You’re probably wondering what this is.

This, friends, is me attempting to “stick it to the man” of the cake realm.  The Man is a snob.  The man tries to convince you to do silly things like putting Crisco in your white cake and icing so it’ll stay perfectly white.  This is the same Man who, for this recipe, was trying to tell me to throw away four perfectly good egg yolks… yes, so the cake stays perfectly white.   People, Crisco Cake is evil.  So is Crisco icing.  Crisco has its place in the culinary world, don’t get me wrong.  But not here.  Not in cake.  And not in icing.  You may use butter.  Sometimes oil.  Case closed.

(My attempt to stick it to the man is a little feeble.  I used one whole egg and 3 eggwhites… still threw away three perfectly good egg yolks.  It’s the goody-two-shoes in me.)


Mmmmmmm…….  I take such pleasure in seeing yellow intrude into all the white.


Time for a good mix.  I didn’t feel like dirtying up my KitchenAid.


Now would be a good time for a little taste if you’re into that sorta thing.

See?  Its perfectly white.  Don’t buy into the Crisco lie.



Now, distribute your batter as evenly as you can into your 8 or 9 inch. round pans (lined with wax paper.)  If you are lucky enough to have 3 round cake pans, use 3.  I’m going to use 3 next time I make this cake, but first I’ll need to purchase a third pan.  You’ll see why later.

Special Tip # 379:  Lift each pan a few inches off the counter and drop it a few times to get rid of any major air bubbles.  You don’t want those disrupting the homogeneous texture of your cake.


Mmmm.  These were perfect after about 32 minutes at 320 degrees.  Peek at them a little earlier if you’re using 3 pans, but for Heaven’s sake… NO peeking in the first 20 minutes!  Let the heat stay in.  Use your oven light if you must see what’s going on in there.

You’ll need to patiently let these cool somewhere.  Give em’ plenty of time!


In the meantime… meet one of my best pals in the kitchen.

This is what you need if you’re going to be freezing cakes or cupcakes.  And you are.


Ahh…. here they are.  Waiting for Saturday.

Make sure the surface they’re sitting on is flat.  My freezer has raised lines on its floor (annoying) so I use frozen pizza 🙂

And put layers of wax paper in between each cake layer.

And that’s the end of the “Technical Day.”  Go to bed and try to forget how much work this was.



After a few days in the freezer, my cake’s shining moment is almost here.

Before pulling it out of the freezer, start by making your White Chocolate Lemon Buttercream.



Chop up 4 oz. of white chocolate.  If you buy Bakers brand, its already divided into 1 oz. chunks… which is just, like, sooooo perfect!


The next step should really be Step ONE of Creative Day.


Homemade icing requires room-temperature butter.  If you forget (as I did) to set it out… your husband will have exactly the excuse he needs to make you work out before you continue your baking.  If you’d rather be icing a cake than doing pull-ups, you will set your butter out ahead of time and avoid having to kill an hour while you wait on it later.


Now that we’ve done that…

Start melting your white chocolate in the microwave in 15 second increments.


I felt like sticking it to the man again so I did 16 second increments.

It took about 3 of those… plus about 6 more seconds at the end.


Stir a LOT in between each of these and you’ll be surprised how little time in the microwave it actually needs.



Let it cool and add some vanilla.  (1 tsp.)



Then toss in the two (room temp.) sticks of butter and whip it like crazy.

Add a Tablespoon or so of heavy cream here as well.




Now for the powdered sugar.  Five cups.  Mix them in gradually.





We’re almost there.

One more special touch.

Take a lemon out of your freezer.

You did have a lemon in your freezer, right?




Get it out.


Peel off a pretty curl of the zest and sit it in some sugar for later.




And zest the rest of the peel into your icing.





Ahhh.  Zee icing ees perfect!


Dab a bit onto the surface where you want to serve your cake.  I like to save the cardboard circles from my frozen pizza and cover them in foil.  (I just realized that both in this and the last recipe I posted here I’ve mentioned frozen pizza and how I’m using it for the task at hand.  Sad.)




Now, I didn’t mention it before but after eating the “practice cake” I decided that the second go-round needed more raspberry.  If I had had three cake pans, that would’ve solved the problem right there.   But as I only had two, I got creative and decided to do what the pros do and saw each layer in half so that there are four total.  I do not know how the pros get each layer so even!





Each layer should be very cold… and therefore very firm… and therefore very easy to pick up and transfer wherever you’d like it to go.  This is another benefit to working with a frozen cake.  If you’ve ever tried this with a soft, room temperature cake, you know it ain’t easy!



So begin layering cake with a raspberry filling of your choice.  I like seedless raspberry jam.



And I really like some icing in the middle layer as well, so we’re going to plop it on over the filling!  And if you do it right… it won’t slide.

Here’s the technique.



The trick is to leave some space around the edge of your raspberry filling, and to seal it off with the icing.  As pictured above.



As you can see… my layers are definitely not even.  This is why I plan to use three cake pans next time.

But as long as you can be watchful about stacking a thicker edge where you see a thinner edge below it, you should be good.  All the really matters is that the tops ends up even.


Now you can go to town with the buttercream!  Don’t be shy.


I like to get it reeeeally smooth at the end by rinsing off my metal spatula with hot water and runnning it over the cake.




Now… piping time!!!




Beads along the sides anyone?



Again, water to the rescue.  A dab of water on your finger is the best way to smooth each little curlicue into a rounded bead.




Writing on a cake is super scary.  You never know what your hand is going to do without your permission.


Here was Attempt #1.  (See how I made the “O” too low?)



And here’s Attempt #2 (where I’ve probably overcompensated and made the O too high, but we’re calling it perfect.)



And now that its perfect, we can do the final piping (which, surprisingly seems like its going to be the easiest part so far!)

Don’t know how to pipe onto a cake?

Find a picture you like online and copy it.

That’s what I did.



I loved the finished design… but it still looked a little “one-dimensional” to me.

So I decided to add chocolate sprinkles wherever I felt like it.

I did so with tweezers, in case you were wondering.



Aaaand Ta-Daaaaaaa!

I would have loved to get the pink a little closer to “raspberry” but alas would have had very runny icing as a result.

So there you have it folks.

The final dessert station at the baby shower was lovely, girly, and elegant.




And you will definitely be seeing this cupcake recipe in days to come.


Happy cake baking!  I know you are all going out and signing up to host the next available baby shower you can think of!


9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2010 4:49 am

    OMG, Carissa. That is amazing. I will have to copy… maybe. It looks very complicated, but your tutorial makes it seem so easy! Fantastic!

  2. Tiffany permalink
    July 29, 2010 5:16 am

    Love this Carissa!!! I was telling Matt as I looked at all this that “Carissa needs a bakery soo bad!!” =) I want a piece of that cake and a cupcake sooo if you could mail them to me that would be perfect!!! Thanks dear!! =)

  3. elisedavies21 permalink
    February 25, 2012 4:57 pm

    Hi Carissa,

    I was looking for a lemon/white chocolate buttercream when I found your page. This cake looks beautiful. I’m curious, though. What did you do with the lemon curl/sugar mixture? I did not see further reference to it. I’m now off to bake almond cupcakes with lemon/white chocolate buttercream. Thanks.

    • February 25, 2012 6:23 pm

      Oh yes! I used that as a garnish on the edge of the plate (with a few raspberries) just to add a fancy touch and to show guests what flavors were in the cake. Enjoy those cupcakes!


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