This year, my mom asked me if I would make her birthday cake. Not just any cake mix, she wanted THE cake. I was extremely flattered and terrified. She wanted me to make the from scratch white cake she uses for her wedding cakes.
To give you an idea of why I was nervous, I thought I'd share my mom's "portfolio" if you will. Before Duff "Ace of Cakes" Goldman or the "Cake Boss" (I can't remember that annoying guy's name) even touched a rolling pin, she was making her own amazing cakes. She has never been to pastry school or even had a cooking lesson to my knowledge. One of the things I love most about my mom is her tenacity. If she wants to know how to do something, she goes to the library and reads everything she can. She's one of those "do everything" kind of ladies because she doesn't sit around waiting for someone else to do it for her. Thus, she became a cake decorating wonder all on her own. She started with simple cakes for us kids then eventually moved on to wedding cakes. All of these cakes she's made for friends as a wedding gift or for little money. I think a lot of these cakes are way better than a lot of the cakes on TV . . . and lots of them were made decades ago (as the 3 separate Ghostbusters cakes can attest). So here are a couple of collages showing off her talents.
The guitar was actually a groom's cake she made a couple of years ago. Her favorite character cake is the Slimer cake. She's still proud of that one! But, her favorite of all time is the castle cake. Guess who's birthday she made that one for? Oh, right . . . me! Now there are endless molds and templates for people to make similar cakes. Back in the day, my mom made this cake by baking the turrets in Campbell's Soup cans! Pretty amazing, huh?
Here's a variety of her wedding cakes. The wedding cake in the top right corner (the only non-white one! What was I thinking? Yellow and orange fondant? It's still really pretty and I love it.) is mine. Yes, that's my hubby shoving cake in my face even though he promised my mom he wouldn't (she thinks that is tacky). You should've seen the look she gave him . . . scary!
The one thing all these cakes have in common is the most important fact of all: they all taste GOOD. I kind of doubt those fancy bakery cakes taste as good as my mom's stuff. Have you seen how much buttercream they put in there? Yeech.
So, did I live up to my mom's legacy? Sort of.
It's a little lopsided but it tasted GREAT! My family loves sweets, especially chocolate. But this cake is so sweet and buttery, it never fails to disappear within minutes of cutting it! It's the one dessert we can all agree on. So, if you ever have a hankering for the best wedding cake ever (period!) but you don't have an invitation, here's the recipe for you to try it at home (This recipe first appeared in--what else?--"Southern Living' in the 1990s, if you were curious):
BASIC WHITE CAKE
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
3 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract*
6 egg whites
Beat butter and shortening at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk and water, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in extracts.
Beat egg whites at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form; fold about one-third of egg whites into batter. Gradually fold in remaining egg whites.
Pour cake batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans (I used 2 9-inch round pans). Bake at 325 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of each layer comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
BASIC BUTTERCREAM ICING
1 cup butter, room temp.
1/2 cup milk, room temp.
2 tsp vanilla
2 lbs powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract*
Yields 6 cups, covers 2 9 inch layers. (Beat the frosting longer for a fluffier, lighter texture)
*WARNING! Almond extract is like the black mamba of extracts. It is extremely potent. You open the little bottle and and the smell fills your entire kitchen immediately. Use the tiniest amount possible in the cake batter and frosting. Add a drop at a time to taste. A clean medicine dropper would work great. I used less than called for in either recipe. A tiny bit goes a long way.