When I was a little girl I spent most summers at my Gran's house. It was during this time that I first heard her say "I'm not sure what to buy me for my birthday this year." I didn't get it then, but I do now.
I have a wonderful family and each year when my birthday rolls around they shower me with gifts and confetti cupcakes. They always want to know what is on my birthday wishlist a couple of weeks beforehand. Now, I know they would buy me anything I ask for, but there are some things I just can't ask my dear family to buy - like a cotton candy machine. Impractical? Yes. Frivolous, guilty pleasure? Yes. A lot of fun? Heck yes!
The machine I'd had my eye on was a table-top variety for thirty-some-odd dollars; well within the gift-to-self budget. It was in an online shopping cart for two weeks before I pulled the trigger, cabinet space be darned. I've been practicing my candy floss spinning once a week for the past month, and I knew it wouldn't be long before the fluffy stuff made an appearance in my baking.
That's how this cake came about, but you don't need your own cotton candy machine to make it.
What you will need is a small measure of Pink Vanilla Cotton Candy granules
and a few bags of commercially spun cotton candy.
You'll also need to use a heavy-duty stand mixer and an extra large mixing bowl. This recipe is for a tiered cake (wedding-type), so it is very dense and makes a large quantity of batter. As far as the cake's flavor goes, it tastes much like a moist butter cake with an extra-large vanilla punch.
Yield: 12 cups cake batter. Cake serves 17-20. [printable version]
Bake the cakes:
Note: Use 3 graduated leak-proof spring-form pans in sizes 5",7" and 9".
6 cups cake flour (I used Wondra flour, Swan's down cake flour is also recommended)
2 tablespoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups pink vanilla cotton candy granules
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract (for this recipe I recommend Watkins Double Vanilla clear extract)
2 teaspoons Wilton clear butter flavor extract
Clear vegetable shortening for greasing pans
Parchment paper for lining pans
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease pans and line bottom and sides with parchment paper.
3. Cream butter, cotton candy granules and granulated sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat until fluffy.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Do not over-mix. Beaten egg whites should not be dry.
5. With stand mixer on low speed, mix in flour mixture and milk in alternately until a very thick (almost cookie dough-like) batter forms.
6. Beat in vanilla and butter extracts.
8. Divide batter evenly among trio of pans, beginning with the 5" pan, which will hold about 1 1/2 cups of batter, then the 7" pan, which will hold 2 1/2-3 cups of batter, and then pour the remaining batter into the large 9" pan.
9. Bake 5 and 7-inch cake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. The largest cake may take up to 1 hour - 1 hour 10 minutes to bake.
10. Let cakes cool slightly in pans before removing the spring-form rings and removing them from the pan base.
11. When completely cool, level cakes with a cake leveler or serrated knife.
Make the syrup:
Note: Do not skip this step! It is integral to the cake's flavor and moistness.
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons clear vanilla extract (again, I recommend Watkins Double Vanilla)
2 tsp. clear butter extract (I used Wilton)
2. Remove from heat and stir in extracts. Cool slightly before using. You can use this syrup warm or at room temperature.
3. Brush cooled cakes liberally with syrup. Use all of the liquid syrup - in other words - baste these cakes like a thanksgiving turkey! You don't have to do this all at once, you can brush the cakes and let the syrup soak in for 10-20 minutes, and then come back and intermittently brush cakes until all syrup has been absorbed.
4. Let cakes stand lightly covered with aluminum foil at room temperature for several hours until syrup has been fully absorbed.
Crumb coat the cakes:
1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and confectioners sugar. Begin mixing on low speed until crumbly, and then increase to high and beat for 3 minutes.
- Add vanilla extract and beat again for another minute until light and fluffy.
- Using an offset spatula crumb-coat the cakes and let set at room temperature until frosting crusts.
Cover the cakes with fondant:
1 lb. ready made white fondant
1 cup ready made chocolate fondant (can measure by pressing it into a measuring cup)
Confectioners sugar for dusting
Small artist's brush
Light corn syrup
1. Dust work surface with confectioners' sugar.
2. Using a smooth rolling pin, roll fondant to 1/4" thin.
3. Drape fondant over the largest cake and gently fit and smooth it over the edges Trim cake with a small paring knife or pizza cutter (recommended!). Re-roll fondant scraps and repeat with the remaining cakes. Don't pull fondant downward onto cake. If you need a tutorial on applying fondant, you can find a useful one here. Stack cakes on a cake stand -graduating with the largest tier as the base, graduating up to the smallest tier.
4. Roll chocolate fondant into a long piece, 1/4" thick. Measure around the sides of the cakes and cut three 1-inch wide long chocolate fondant ribbons to fit. You may have to cut one or two ribbons, then re-roll scraps and cut the third piece.
5. Pour a little corn syrup into a condiment cup. Using the artist's brush, dab the backs of the chocolate ribbons with a little corn syrup. Apply the corn-syrup-sticky side of the ribbons to the bottom edges of the cakes. Press to adhere.
Apply the cotton candy and decorate:
8- 2 oz tubs/bags of pink cotton candy (vanilla flavor if available) or you may spin your own if you have a cotton candy machine
Edible heart sequins by Wilton
Note: Wait until just before serving the cake to decorate. Don't open the cotton candy tubs/bags until you're absolutely ready to apply it to the cake. As you know, cotton candy will wilt over time. Alternatively, you may choose to serve puffs of cotton candy atop slices of cake.
1. Tear cotton candy into fluffy pieces and drape over top of cake. Continue to apply cotton candy down the side of the cake, allowing the cotton candy pieces to adhere to one another.
2. Apply cotton candy pieces around the bottom of the cake stand and around the back of the cake. Apply as much or as little of cotton candy as you'd like.
(I've made a product carousel to help you easily locate supplies to make this cake. (Email subscribers may need to click over to Sprinkle Bakes to view.)