Well this year, I saw the cover and said, “I might could make this cake.”
From the looks of it, the 2018 White Cake required no special piping skills. There was no food coloring. No candy melt. No fondant. No styrofoam or sticks for support.
It’s a basic cake, and the influence of Chip and Joanna Gaines is strong, with a simple and rustic — can cakes be rustic? — aesthetic. The sides evoke shiplap. It’s even got greenery, and we know how much JoJo loves plants.
Let’s Bake This Cake
I’m not much of a baker, as I prefer to show my love with savory items like casseroles and nachos. The only cake I’ve ever baked from scratch was for Ruby’s 2nd birthday. It was the lemon cake with buttercream from the Magnolia Bakery cook book. Adults loved it; kids hated it.
My first hiccup with the Big White Cake 2018 was the number of layers. I have two 8-inch round pans, but the recipe called for three. I was not in the mood to invest in bakeware for this thing, so Jamie suggested I make two cakes and cut them in half with dental floss. I learned a baking trick and got an extra layer to cover in buttercream. It could be my version of the Moist Maker.
Blasting the SiriusXM Holly channel*, I got to work. I sprayed my pans with Pam and cut out wax paper to cover the bottoms. The recipe said to use parchment paper, but I’m pretty sure parchment paper is just wax paper that’s stuck up.
The hardest part of the recipe was remembering to set the eggs and butter overnight, delaying my Saturday baking plans to Sunday. Using my cherished KitchenAid stand mixer, I moved the paddle speed to medium/high and beat the ever-loving hell out of that butter and sugar. Creamy! Fluffy! That mixer hauls ass and could end your life if it wanted to.
*Holly Channel 4 is the best holiday channel ever. So. Much. Kelly. Clarkson.
I Am Baking This Cake
Since I had two pans instead of three, the baking took a bit longer, and once they were cooked through, I put the cakes into the fridge to cool as the spirit of Jacques Torres whispered into my ear, “Clever girl.”
Two hours and one glass of wine later, I got to frosting my cake. Yes, the word “butter” is in the name, but it never occurred to me that buttercream is 99.9% butter. It’s…rich. Using a piping bag, I made swirls and swirls of buttercream between then layers. Yes, I should have leveled my cakes, but that’s wasteful. A lopsided cake has more cake!
My step-daughter Jessica is an excellent baker, and I knew from her that dipping your offset spatula in a glass of warm water is key for achieving that smooth icing look. Then I spun my
partner cake stand ’round and ’round to create my shiplap lines.
A pot of rosemary grows in my office, so I clipped some twigs and stuck them in my cake. I didn’t want to make the gingerbread because gingerbread is grody, and instead, used the bucket of champagne from our backyard Fairy Garden a the cake topper. I powdered the cake–and the top of my dog’s head — with sugar and voila!
Let’s Eat This Cake
It’s hard to cut into your pretty creation, but the proof is in the eating. Reactions:
- Ruby: CAKE! It’s very good, mommy.
- Guy: The caramelized edges, which I call cake scabs, are perfect. Tastes a bit like an almond croissant, which is a good thing.
- Dani: I weigh 2 more pounds than I did two days ago so don’t give me anymore cake! But it was awesome.
- Becky (in her English accent): Nicely done!
- Ruby (day 2): I’m home! WHERE IS THE CAKE?!
Even Randy the Elf wanted some. I would call that a confectionery success. “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and the Southern Living White Cake.”