There are too many pretty-but-bland wedding cakes. You know the ones - breathtaking to look at, but dull and over-sweet to taste. When I was asked to do a cake and cupcake tower for a wedding, one of my goals was to make it delicious. The requested flavor: liliko'i. I wanted to make sure the flavor stood out in all its tart, tropical fruit glory!
In the next few posts, I'll be sharing the recipes I used for the wedding cake and cupcakes, a more intensely lilikoi-flavored version (I'll explain why it wasn't used for the wedding) as well as eggless, dairyless variations of the cake, filling, and frosting that are just as fantastic (and I'll explain why those didn't get used for the wedding either). My goals for the wedding cake and cupcakes included cake that would hold up well overnight and be sturdy enough to stack. This vanilla cake recipe wound up being The One, after much research and a few recipe testings. It is sturdy yet buttery, moist, and still delicious after spending a night in the fridge or freezer. The recipe is given in US standard measurements, with UK measurements in brackets. Some of the conversions were done by my measuring with US standard and then weighing. The orange-blossom water is optional - it's not always easy to find, and you'll still have a delicious cake without it. What it contributes is a little je ne sais quoi - there isn't enough in the batter to contribute a distinct orange-blossom flavor; there's just enough to do a little tango with the vanilla and butter and almond milk and make everything taste kinda sexy. I don't usually specify brand names, however, in this case, I personally think that Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water is the best I've used (the worst smelled like the plastic bottle it came in). The Kahala Whole Foods carries it and it is also available on Amazon.com.
(adapted from classic 1-2-3-4 Cake in Betty Crocker's Old-Fashioned Cookbook)
makes 3 nine-inch [23 x 3.5-centimeter] cakes or 24 - 32 cupcakes [fairy cakes] (24 if you ﬁll the baking cups 2/3 full, 32 for half-ﬁlled baking cups)
1 cup (2 sticks) [225 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup [195 g] sugar
4 large eggs
2 ½ cups [425 g] all-purpose ﬂour [plain ﬂour]
3 tsp [18 g] double-acting baking powder [UK: I have read conﬂicting information. Some
sources say to simply use the same amount of single-acting, others say to use double
1 tsp [6 g] salt
1 cup [250 mL] almond milk (or dairy milk or soy milk)
1 tsp [5 mL] vanilla extract
1 tsp [5 mL] orange blossom water (optional)
An electric hand-held mixer or stand mixer is highly recommended.
Preheat oven to 350 °F [180 ℃ or Gas Mark 4]. Prepare cake pans by greasing and ﬂouring. A round of buttered parchment paper in the bottom of each pan is also helpful.
Prepare cupcake tins [fairy cake tins] with paper liners [paper cases]. Combine ﬂour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Combine milk, vanilla, and orange blossom water (I just measure the vanilla and orange blossom water into the measuring cup holding the milk).
Cream butter and sugar together for at least 5 minutes, until very light and ﬂuffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition, then add half the ﬂour mixture and beat until just combined. Add the milk mixture and beat until just combined. Add the remaining ﬂour and beat until mixed. Divide batter evenly among pans. Cake pans: bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until top springs back when gently pressed, or until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it. Cupcakes: start checking at 15 minutes - and be vigilant; these will go from golden to dark in just a couple of minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then transfer to cooling racks.