I have a friend (shout out to Callie!) who makes the most amazingly beautiful cakes. I have tried to make pretty cakes, but the fact is…I usually fail.
I make ugly cakes. The one thing I’m good at, though, is making cakes that people LOVE to eat. They taste amazing. And once you’ve had a piece of my cake, you’ll overlook their outward appearance.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts, right?
Note: since writing this post several years ago and sharing my recipe for buttercream frosting below, I have shared several other recipes for other delicious frosting that you are going to LOVE. And they aren’t quite as ugly as the cake I made for my daughter’s birthday a few years ago…
Want to know my secret to making great tasting cakes? I’m ready to tell you. I even baked a cake just for this post (ok, really, Reese had a birthday on Sunday. I HAD to make a cake…).
The secret to the perfect cake
The secret is….the frosting matters SO much more than the actual cake. I can dress a mediocre cake up with fabulous frosting and everyone will gobble it down. But if I try to frost a really good cake with canned frosting, the cake sits uneaten.
Then, the secret ingredient: the perfect frosting. Some of my favorite pairings are yellow cake with chocolate buttercream frosting, spice cake with cream cheese frosting, and chocolate cake with vanilla frosting.
Here’s how I do it (it’s so simple, I swear!). I got my trusty old recipe from an old Pillsbury baking cookbook that has literally fallen apart from love and over-usage.
Stand-by Buttercream Frosting
- ⅔ cup butter, softened (not melted)
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3-4 Tbsp milk
- In a large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy (I typically use hand beaters, but a stand mixer will work as well). Gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in vanilla and milk until you have your desired consistency.
- This frosting makes enough to cover a typical cake mix.
- Licking of beaters is encouraged and expected.
Chocolate buttercream frosting
To make chocolate buttercream frosting, follow the recipe above but add 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa with the powdered sugar.
It’s seriously as easy as that. Use this frosting and people will call you a cake genius. The perfect birthday cake is as simple as the the frosting you put on top. It never fails.
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