I’ve baked many many simple vanilla cakes over the years but I think this might be my favourite. For a good strong vanilla cake you really do need to use a vanilla extract with the seeds in, vanilla bean paste or powder…or even an actual vanilla pod. Any of those will give the best flavour to your cake and I love seeing the little vanilla seeds dotted throughout. I’m a really big fan of vanilla powder, I’ve only used the Ndali brand so I can’t comment on any others but it gives such a wonderful vanilla flavour to everything I’ve used it in.
Of all the things I bake, layer cakes are the most fun to make and I haven’t made nearly enough recently so I’m throwing myself back into frosting. Plus I finally restocked up on piping bags so I need to practice my piping.
Not much to add other than the flavours are easily adaptable. I’ve added cardamom to this before and it worked so well with the vanilla.
If you like a stronger honey flavour add more to the frosting, you might need to up the icing sugar a tad depending on how much you add. Vanilla would also work well in the frosting.
The figs go really well with the honey and vanilla flavours but other fruits would work nicely as well, such as raspberries or passionfruit.
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
4 eggs + 1 egg yolk
250g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla powder or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
100ml whole milk, lukewarm
for the frosting:
125g unsalted butter, softened
175g cream cheese
600g icing sugar, sifted
100g white chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon honey
3 figs, to decorate
- Grease and line two 6 inch cake tins and set aside. Preheat your oven to 180C/350 F/Gas Mark 4.
- Warm the milk gently and remove from the heat when lukewarm.
- Separately, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, briefly mixing in between each one (don’t over mix) and then add the egg yolk.
- Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla and start to fold in. When the dry ingredients are about halfway folded in, pour in the warm milk and continue to fold until all the ingredients are combined.
- Divide between the two tins and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Test with a cocktail stick in the centre of the cake, making sure it comes out clean.
- Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin.
- For the frosting: Beat the butter and cream cheese until just combined. Sift in 500g of the icing sugar and mix until it comes together. Pour in the melted white chocolate and mix until combined before sifting in the rest of the icing sugar and mixing again. Finally add the honey and beat on high until it becomes very light and fluffy. I would say 3-5 minutes.
- Place the frosting in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to allow the chocolate to cool and thicken.
- To assemble your cake: level the cakes off and place the bottom layer on your plate or stand. Using a large circle nozzle or just cutting the end off your piping bag, pipe concentric circles starting from the edge and working inwards. This is the best way to get a nice even middle layer of frosting.
- Place the top layer of cake on upside down. Crumb coat the top and sides and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Once the crumb coating has set you can add more frosting to the top and sides and pipe decorations on. Finish by laying sliced figs on top and maybe an extra drizzle of honey too.