I’m not much of a vanilla cake person. It’s like white wine to me. Why have white wine when red is available? Why vanilla cake when there’s a can of cocoa sitting in your cupboard? I want to go as far as to say that I can’t even like people who prefer vanilla cake, but that’s really not true. I know and like plenty of vanilla-cake-people. However, if we had just met and you happened to mention that you preferred vanilla cake to chocolate, it would seriously impede the development of our relationship.
So why am I posting a recipe for vanilla cake? Well, this one won me over. I had set out to make a vanilla cake for my brother-in-law’s birthday and I finally settled on this Bon Appetit recipe for vanilla bean bundt cake. I ditched the vanilla glaze and berries and opted for a rich buttercream instead. It was a great combo. Next time, I will try this cake with some sort of maple glaze or creme fraiche and caramelized fruit (peaches?).
There’s just something about cutting into a cake and seeing the little vanilla bean seeds speckled inside…
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 t bourbon
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup plus 6 T unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar (I used demererra, but any kind would work)
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1. Butter and flour a standard Bundt pan, then spray with nonstick spray.
2. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into a small bowl with the bourbon and stir. I left the scraped-out bean in the bourbon to sit as well.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, then add the eggs and yolk 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
5. Remove the vanilla bean (just the scraped-out pod) from the bourbon mixture and beat the bourbon into the butter mixture.
6. Beat in half the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, then the rest of the flour.
7. Pour into your bundt pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
8. Bake at 325F for about 55 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes, then invert cake onto rack and cool completely.
For the icing, I beat just over a 1/2 cup of butter (about 2/3 cup) until light. I added a splash of vanilla, then alternated additions of icing sugar, cocoa and whipping cream. I used a total of 2.5 cups of icing sugar, 5-6 heaping soup-spoonfuls of cocoa (it was RICH) and roughly 5 T of whipping cream. I added the icing sugar a 1/2 cup at a time and just kept tasting it until I had enough cocoa to be satisfied with the taste and enough sugar/whipping cream to be satisfied with the texture. Once the cake is cool, spread the icing over the top and sides of cake in a luxurious, thick layer.