Chocolate Cake + Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe
I was tasked with making a cake large enough to feed 30 guests for my Mom's birthday party. Plan A was to make a quarter sheet cake from scratch; if that failed, Plan B was to buy a cake from Costco and add to the icing decorations to make it look like my own. Fortunately, Plan A worked out well and I dodged a trip to Costco.
Here's a high-level overview of the process:
- Bake two batches of Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake in two 9"x13" pans.
- Alternatively, bake one batch after another if you only own one pan, leaving time in between for the first cake to cool for 15 minutes in the pan and for washing/drying the pan.
- If you bake the batches separately, do not make the batter for both batches at the same time. Instead, make the batter for the second batch separately, since you don't want the baking soda and baking powder to begin/complete their chemical reactions with the wet ingredients well before the batter goes into the oven.
- Let cakes cool on a wire rack until they reach room temperature.
- While the cakes are cooling, make buttercream (see recipe below).
- Using a serrated knife, level the cakes and trim the sides by about half a centimeter.
- Save the scraps for cake pops, ice cream toppings, or a simple snack with a glass of milk.
- Trimming the sides makes frosting the cake a little easier since you remove the harder, caramelized edges.
- Place one layer of cake on a cake board (or a suitably-sized piece of cardboard). Frost with buttercream.
- With the second layer of cake on a wire rack, carefully slide it on top of the first layer.
- Crumb-coat the cake on top and all sides with a super thin layer of frosting. Freeze the cake for 10-15 minutes.
- Crumb-coating and chilling the cake traps the loose crumbs in the first layer of frosting. That way when you do the final frosting, the crumbs won't interfere.
- Frost the cake with a thicker layer of frosting.
- Use the leftover frosting to decorate as you'd like.
- I split my remaining frosting into three and dyed them pastel green, pink, and yellow with gel food dye.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Recipe
Adapted slightly from Liv for Cake.
- Egg whites from 6 large eggs
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
- Stand mixer
- Whisk attachment
- Paddle attachment
- Small sauce pan
- Heat the egg whites and sugar in a stand-mixer bowl over a double-boiler to 160 degress F while whisking occasionally.
- To set up a double-boiler, add 2 inches of water to a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and place the stand-mixer bowl on top.
- Attach the bowl to the stand mixer and whisk on high speed until the bottom of the bowl is cool (10-15 minutes). The meringue should hold stiff peaks.
- Switch to a paddle attachment. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, allowing time in between each addition for the butter to be mixed in.
- Add vanilla bean paste and beat on high until the buttercream looks smooth and thick.