Vanilla Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

A friend of ours has a double whammy coming up.  It’s her birthday AND she just got engaged to Boy’s cousin.  Lots of things to celebrate, indeed.  And what does every celebration need?  Well, plenty of cake of course!

To help out in that department, I decided to make a vanilla layer cake with lemon cream cheese frosting, topped with fondant and fondant flowers.

Now, as a disclaimer, this is certainly not the first cake I’ve made but it’s the first full size cake I’ve actually tried to decorate.  I’ve done mini cakes that look like presents before but that’s as far as my fondant experience has gone. But when it comes to crafting and cooking, I tend to dive right in and learn along the way.  That’s what becoming crafty is all about!

Vanilla Layer Cake

(slightly modified from The Joy of Baking recipe for vanilla cake)

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups baker’s sugar (or granulated sugar)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup reduced fat (2%) milk

Please see The Joy of Baking recipe for baking instructions.

We baked our cakes in 2 8-inch round cake pans for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup (8 oz) of neufchatel cheese (or cream cheese)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • Juice from 1 lemon (though I like my frosting with a little zip)
  • Optional: zest from your lemon

In medium bowl, beat cheese and butter together until light and fluffy.  Incrementally add confectioners sugar, beating very well, until desired consistency is reached.  Add in lemon juice.  Add in any additional confectioners sugar needed for desired sweetness and consistency.

Putting It All Together

Now, I’d seen ruffled fondant before.  And two cakes in particular served as inspiration for my very rough first go.  Cookies and Cravings and Calories, Oh My shows off the skills she learned at a decorating class with a reverse ruffle cake.  On Cake Central, krissy_kze posted a picture of a baby shower cake decked with tons of ruffled layers.

I purchased some prepackaged fondant, icing colors, cake decorating tools and a gumpaste flower kit somewhat on a whim.  I don’t have all the tools you might need to do this well and I figured I’d try my luck making the ruffles and flowers out of fondant entirely (rather than using gumpaste or a mixture of any kind).  Trial and error (and the occasional success) – that’s my bag.

All right, so let’s get to the meat and potatoes (or the cake and frosting) of the thing.

I started by baking my two layer cakes and freezing them for 3 hours before I began the decoration process.

Vanilla layer cakes adorned with cooling rack imprints

I then slathered a layer of the lemon cream cheese frosting in between and stacked the cakes.

Stacked cakes with a layer of frosting in between

Because I used cake pans which are not totally straight on the sides, I needed to cut around the cake to even out the sides a bit.

Trimmin’ some cakes

Then came the icing to the rest of the cake.  Why, you ask?  Well, I personally like the flavor of the frosting to come through no matter how much fondant decorates the cake.  Plus I’ve heard that fondant tends to stick better on a cake with a layer of frosting or buttercream in between.

On goes the frosting

Then came the ruffles.  Now, to do this, pretty much all my instruction came from a single YouTube video (yes, that’s the trial and error in me).  The video comes from the good folks over at Satin Ice, the makers of my prepackaged fondant in fact.  In it, you see Julie Bashore using a gumpaste modeling tool shaped like a teardrop to roll out the 50:50 (50% fondant, 50% gumpaste) to make the frill.

I had neither gumpaste, nor the right gumpaste tool but using pure fondant and a small conical tool, I ruffled straight fondant strips and placed them from top to bottom onto my cake.

And so the ruffles begin

As you can see in the picture, I wasn’t quite as careful as Julie and the point on my modeling tool did touch the fondant, causing some slight tearing.  After a bit of research, looks like the tool she used (and the tool I’ll probably need to buy before the next frill attempt) is the PME Bulbous Cone Modeling Tool.

Finally, when the frills were all done, I topped off the cake with a round piece of fondant which I also attempted to frill the edge on.  By that point, it was already 11 p.m. and my fondant was starting to stick so it’s a bit uneven.  Again, in my notes for next time, I’ll try using a rolling pin to lift and place my fondant to avoid stretching or tearing.

Last but not least for this cake, I used the hydrangea press from my Wilton Gum Paste Flower Cutter Set to punch out a few little flowers.  Using a drop of frosting, I stuck them to the top of the cake and called it a night.

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