A classic vanilla sponge cake with buttercream frosting is a timeless delight that everyone can enjoy. Whether it’s for a birthday, anniversary, or a simple afternoon tea, this cake recipe is a crowd-pleaser. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through every step, from baking the perfect sponge cake layers to creating a velvety buttercream frosting. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- Baking the Vanilla Sponge Cake
- Preparing the Buttercream Frosting
- Assembling and Decorating
- Serving Suggestions
- Variations and Tips
For the Vanilla Sponge Cake:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk
For the Buttercream Frosting:
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
- Food coloring (optional)
Before you start, ensure you have the following equipment ready:
- Two 9-inch round cake pans
- Parchment paper
- Stand mixer or hand mixer
- Mixing bowls
- Whisk and spatula
- Cooling rack
- Offset spatula (for frosting)
3. Baking the Vanilla Sponge Cake
Step 1: Prepare the Pans
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper for easy removal.
Step 2: Sift the Dry Ingredients
- In a mixing bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set this dry mixture aside.
Step 3: Cream the Butter and Sugar
- In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer), cream the softened butter and granulated sugar together until the mixture becomes light and fluffy, which should take about 3-4 minutes.
Step 4: Add Eggs and Vanilla
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then, mix in the pure vanilla extract.
Step 5: Alternate Dry and Wet Ingredients
- Begin adding the dry mixture and the milk to the butter mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined after each addition. Be careful not to overmix; stop as soon as there are no visible streaks of flour.
Step 6: Divide and Bake
- Divide the cake batter equally between the prepared cake pans. Smooth the tops with a spatula.
Step 7: Bake
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, with just a few crumbs clinging to it.
Step 8: Cool and Remove from Pans
- Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove the parchment paper from the bottoms.
4. Preparing the Buttercream Frosting
Step 1: Cream the Butter
- In a clean mixing bowl, beat the softened butter until it’s creamy and pale in color, which should take about 3-5 minutes.
Step 2: Add Powdered Sugar
- Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Step 3: Mix in Milk and Vanilla
- Pour in the whole milk and pure vanilla extract. Beat the mixture on low speed initially to avoid powdered sugar from flying out of the bowl. Then, increase the speed and beat until the frosting is smooth and fluffy.
Step 4: Add a Pinch of Salt
- Add a pinch of salt and mix it in. This enhances the flavor of the frosting.
Step 5: Adjust Consistency
- If the frosting is too thick, you can add a little more milk, one tablespoon at a time, until it reaches your desired consistency. Conversely, if it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar.
Step 6: Optional Food Coloring
- If you want colored frosting, add a few drops of food coloring and mix until the color is even.
5. Assembling and Decorating
Step 1: Level the Cakes
- If the tops of your cake layers are domed, level them using a serrated knife to create flat surfaces.
Step 2: Frost Between Layers
- Place one cake layer on your serving plate or cake stand. Spread a layer of buttercream frosting evenly on top.
Step 3: Add Second Layer
- Carefully place the second cake layer on top of the frosted one.
Step 4: Crumb Coat
- Apply a thin layer of frosting around the entire cake. This is called a crumb coat, and it helps trap any loose crumbs.
Step 5: Chill the Cake
- Place the cake in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes to set the crumb coat.
Step 6: Final Frosting
- After the crumb coat has set, frost the cake generously with the remaining buttercream, covering the top and sides evenly.
Step 7: Decorate
- You can decorate your cake with additional frosting, sprinkles, or edible flowers for an extra touch of charm.
6. Serving Suggestions
Serve your classic vanilla sponge cake with buttercream frosting as a delightful dessert for any occasion. It pairs wonderfully with a cup of tea or coffee. If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
7. Variations and Tips
- Chocolate Cake: Add cocoa powder to the dry ingredients for a chocolate sponge cake, and consider a chocolate buttercream frosting.
- Fruit Fillings: Add fruit preserves or fresh fruit between the cake layers for a fruity twist.
- Lemon or Orange Zest: Add lemon or orange zest to the batter for a citrusy flavor.
- To ensure even baking, rotate the cake pans halfway through the baking time if your oven has hot spots.
- Use a cake leveler for perfectly even cake layers.
- For a moister cake, brush the cake layers with simple syrup before frosting.
Problem: Cake is too dry.
Solution: Overbaking can result in a dry cake. Be sure to check for doneness with a toothpick and remove the cakes from the oven as soon as it comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it.
Problem: Frosting is too runny.
Solution: If your frosting is too runny, gradually add more powdered sugar until it reaches the desired consistency. Refrigerating the frosting briefly can also help thicken it.
Problem: Cake layers are uneven.
Solution: Level the cake layers with a serrated knife to create an even surface for stacking.
Congratulations! You’ve mastered the art of making a classic vanilla sponge cake with buttercream frosting. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply indulging your sweet tooth, this recipe is a crowd-pleaser that never goes out of style. Enjoy your delicious homemade creation!