Last Sunday my sweet little two year old became my sweet little three year old. When given the choice of birthday theme, she said dinosaurs or mermaids, and we landed on Hulk-mermaids for a moment, but eventually decided on just mermaids. I was inspired to do an island cake like I had had for my eleventh birthday. It was shaped like an island and had chocolate rocks along the shore.
Moist Vanilla Layer Cake
CAKE from Life, Love, and Sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
FROSTING from Celebrating Sweets
1 cup unsalted butter softened, but still cool to the touch 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (sifted if lumpy) plus more, if needed 1+ tablespoons heavy cream or half and half milk can be substituted in a pinch 1 3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon almond extract optional, but SO good pinch of salt, if desired to balance the sweetness
1. Prepare three 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper circles in the bottom and grease the sides. Preheat oven to 350°F. 2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside. 3. Add the butter, sugar, oil and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl and beat together until light in color and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the creaming time. 4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until mostly combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. 5. Add half of the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until mostly combined. 6. Slowly add the milk and mix until well combined. The batter will look curdled, but that’s ok. 7. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Do not over mix the batter. 8. Divide the batter evenly between the cakes pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. 9. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for about 2-3 minutes, then remove to cooling racks to cool completely.
10. Using a hand mixer, or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and half of the powdered sugar until well-combined (starting out the mixer low and increasing to medium-high).
11. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar (while beating), followed by extracts and 1 tablespoon cream. Turn the mixer to medium-high, and beat well for 1-2 minutes. Continue to add more cream, a little bit at a time, if needed. Alternately, add a little more powdered sugar, if needed. Beat well after each addition. Depending on how thick you want the frosting, you can easily adjust the consistency by adding more powdered sugar (to thicken) or more cream (to thin). 12. To put the cake together, use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the cakes so that they’re flat. These cakes don’t have a large dome, but I like to make sure they’re completely flat. 13. Place the first cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round. 14. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake. 15. Add the second layer of cake and another cup of frosting. 16. Top the cake with the remaining layer and frost the outside of the cake. Refer to my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if needed. 17. Press sprinkles into the sides of the cake 18. Color the remaining frosting to your desired shade. I used a mix of purple and cornflower blue gel icing color. 19. Pipe swirls of frosting around the top edge of the cake. I used Ateco tip 844. 20. Add a few more sprinkles to the top of the cake. Store in an air-tight container. Cake is best for 3-4 days.
1. I added a few drops of blue food coloring gel to make the ocean color.
2. I added a few drops to the top of each layer of caking batter and swirled it around the top to create the blue detail.
3. Add brown sugar for sand, palm tree from AC Moore, chocolate rocks from candy shoppe, Sweedish Fish in multi color, and rainbow hats from Michaels.
My dear friend, Krystina, of The Messy Cookie shared these cake and frosting recipes with me and she also contributed these amazing mermaid tale, starfish, and seashell cookies. If you've been following my blog you'll remember her work from the daycare puzzle cookie post as well. She certainly outdid herself with these and I have to say they are my favorite to date!
If you're familiar with cookie decorating, you may notice that she has incorporated quite a few different techniques that include drying between steps, layers, embellishments, etc. If you are local to Portland, Maine you can learn the tips right from her at one of her laid back cookie ice nights or more instructional classes coming soon! Check her facebook and instagram for more info.