Vanilla may sound boring but this Classic Vanilla Layer Cake with Mascarpone Icing is to die for and highlights whatever fruit you want to garnish it with.
The original recipe is from Fine Cooking and calls for raspberries. You can use whatever berry happens to be available. The better the quality of the berries the better the dish. In the summertime when local berries are at their best it is an amazing dessert. Luckily though berries are available year round so you can make it any time.
Note that real vanilla is essential for this recipe- vanilla extract just won’t cut it. Tip- for everyone who vacations in Mexico or the Caribbean (or Madagascar where the BEST vanilla is from!) you can often get real vanilla quite reasonably priced there.
This cake actually freezes very well. I like it when the cake has had time to absorb some of the frosting and becomes creamier.
Trust me – you will be making this over and over again!
Chef’s Tips for Classic Vanilla Layer Cake with Mascarpone Icing
- Leftover slices of cake freeze beautifully and can be thawed in refrigerator when needed.
- Because the flavours here are so neutral showcase the freshest seasonal fruit for best results.
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature plus more for greasing cake pan
- 1 cup cake and pastry flour
- 1 Tbsp +1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 cups sugar divided (1-1/2 cup + ¼ cup)
- 2 tsps *pure* vanilla
- 1 cup whole milk
- 6 large egg whites @ room temperature
- 1 lb mascarpone @ room temperature
- 2 cups 35% whipping cream (not whipped)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tsps *pure* vanilla
- pinch table salt
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 2 pints strawberries rinsed and sliced. Keep 2 or 3 berries whole for garnish.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease and flour tube cake pan (or 2 – 9” round cake pans greased on all sides with parchment paper on bottom).
- Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
- In a large bowl, beat butter about 1 minute on medium (til smooth). Add 1 -1/2 cups sugar and vanilla. Beat till fluffy about 2 more minutes.
- Add dry ingredients to butter mixture slowly, about 1/3 at a time alternating with ½ cup of milk at a time.
- In a separate bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed til they form soft peaks. Increase speed to high and beat in ¼ cup sugar. Beat til medium firm.
- Fold ¼ of egg white mixture in to cake batter to start. Then fold in remainder of egg whites.
- Scrape into cake pan(s). Bake 50 minutes for tube pan or 30 minutes for round pans.
- Cool 15 minutes then invert tube pan and release cake by running an off set spatula or knife around the side and bottom of the pan. For round pans release edges and invert cakes on to 2 plates. When cool slice the tube pan cake into 2 equal layers.
- Combine all ingredients except cream of tartar and berries in a large bowl. Beat 1 minute on low to mix, then increase speed to high and beat another 2-3 minutes .
- Add cream of tartar if using when mixture starts to thicken and leave beater tracks. Continue to beat until frosting holds peaks. Do not over-beat.
- Position bottom layer on a cake plate and spread a thick layer of frosting over bottom layer. Position top lay on top of frosted bottom layer and frost top and sides. Don't forget to frost the tube hole if you used a tube pan.
- Garnish with whole berries. Refrigerate 4 hours or up to 2 days. Cover after 1 hour. Serve with sliced berries on the side.