Pink Vanilla Cotton Candy Cake

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.

Pink Vanilla Cotton Candy Cake

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 Vanillaclear extract)

2 teaspoons Wilton clear butter flavor extract

12 egg whites

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.

2. Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl, set aside.

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.

7. Using a sturdy rubber spatula, fold 1/2 of the stiff batter into the egg whites.  This will take a while to combine, but the batter will loosen eventually -I promise!  Fold in the remaining batter until thoroughly combined.  Batter will be thick. Your arms will be tired.

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)

1. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until granulated sugar has dissolved.

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 

  1. 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. 
  2. Add vanilla extract and beat
    again for another minute until light and fluffy. 
  3. 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.) 

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Jessica @ How Sweet
Jessica @ How Sweet
10 years ago

My dear friend, this is stunning. I wish you could have made this for my birthday when I was 7 years old. But really… I just wish you could make it for my birthday next month.

Kim
Kim
10 years ago

WOW! You are so talented, it's incredible.

Rosa's Yummy Yums
Rosa's Yummy Yums
10 years ago

A fabulous cake! It is so perfect and really tempting. I wish somebody as talented as you would make my birthday cakes as I am tired of making them myself…

Cheers,

Rosa

Carrie@bakeaholic mama
Carrie@bakeaholic mama
10 years ago

Looks amazing! Very talented!

Unknown
Unknown
10 years ago

How sweet, sweet, sweet! This cake could span so many different age groups. I could see it being so dreamy for a little girl, a teen and a bride too. Who does't just love cotton candy? How fun. And… Happy Birthday!

Honey
Honey
10 years ago

Beautiful! What's on your birthday wish list for next year?

Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips
Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips
10 years ago

WOW!! This is so cool and dreamy and beautiful!! Love Love Love this!!!

Lauren at Keep It Sweet
Lauren at Keep It Sweet
10 years ago

This cake is so amazing! I love how whimsical it is!

Unknown
Unknown
10 years ago

SOOOOOO pretty. Every little girls dream cake! Love the use of cotton candy on the outside!

Cookbook Queen
Cookbook Queen
10 years ago

Heather, I LOOOOVE this!! So so pretty. It's probably my favorite cake I've even SEEN!!

Unknown
Unknown
10 years ago

Fantastic! This cake is so cool. I've always eyed those cotton candy machines too. Lovely!

Heather
Heather
10 years ago

WOW! This would make such an amazing wedding cake!

Rituparna
Rituparna
10 years ago

Guilty Pleasure & Food Lust. What a combination !

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

This cake is simply stunning!!! Love it! Xoxoxo

Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray
Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray
10 years ago

This is utterly gorgeous — I'm in awe of your cake-making and -decorating abilities!!

Kathryn | Dramatic Pancake
Kathryn | Dramatic Pancake
10 years ago

What a dreamy looking cake! Almost looks too good to eat…almost!

Rachel @ The Avid Appetite
Rachel @ The Avid Appetite
10 years ago

This is truly amazing. I adore the light, airyness of the cake…not to mention the pink looks like a glorious cotton candy cloud!

Sue
Sue
10 years ago

Heather, This cake makes me happy! It's sophisticated and fun at the same time, and oh so PINK! You sure have the cotton-candy making perfected. We must be on the same wave length because I have some cotton candy cookies waiting in the wings, but they look pretty pathetic in comparison~lol!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY sweet friend! When is your birthday? Today? XO Sue

Heather Ozee
Heather Ozee
10 years ago

Love it!!!!
Remember the barn and Micheal's shorts getting caught on the nail! Heeee… Heee….
Love You!

Paula
Paula
10 years ago

Just simply beautiful!

In Katrina's Kitchen
In Katrina's Kitchen
10 years ago

Simply stunning. And I LOVE that you bought yourself a cotton candy maker 😉

dulce de leche
dulce de leche
10 years ago

Breathtaking!!!!

Darla | Bakingdom
Darla | Bakingdom
10 years ago

This cake totally just made me go "EEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" in a very loud, very high pitched voice. Then every dog in the neighborhood started barking like I was on one of those dogs-only frequencies. Not good. The "EEEEE" part, that is…the cake is brilliant! That cotton candy cloud wrapping up around the snow white cake tiers is just gorgeous…and so happy! I love it…and the pretty pink cake inside! Just lovely!

Angela
Angela
10 years ago

WOW….love the cake!! Happy Birthday to you!!

I have purchased 2 different cotton candy machines over the years and ended up throwing one away and returning the other due to it not doing what is promised. This one looks as if it is a good one. Would you recommend it? Thanks~

Pink Piccadilly Pastries
Pink Piccadilly Pastries
10 years ago

When I grow up I want to be just like Sprinkle Bakes!! Genius!! Love it!! Jina

Sashquatch
Sashquatch
10 years ago

woaaahhhhhhh…i dont know quite what to say! the words unique, incredible, DIVINE! come to mind, but apart from that pretty darn speechless. you are a genius!

Heather Baird
Heather Baird
10 years ago

Thanks everyone! Hi Angela – I've only had this machine for a month, so I can't really say much about its longevity; however, it has performed beautifully so far! Also – something else I haven't tried yet: you are supposed to be able to pour crushed hard candy into the spinner to make whatever flavor cotton candy you like. I think I'll try crushed coffee nips first. I bought this one because the price and reviews were so good. Lots of helpful tips in the reviews too. I think I may need to use it for a few more months… Read more »

cookies and cups
cookies and cups
10 years ago

I kinda hate you, but love you all at the same time!
This is perfection!

Lili
Lili
10 years ago

Oh Heather, only you could come up with something as stunning and imaginative as this! It's pretty darn gorgeous and I could see it used for a variety of celebrations, and for some reason it reminds me of haute couture on a Parisian runway! xoxo ~Lili

Sandra
Sandra
10 years ago

So very girly and cute!

Andrea {From the Bookshelf}
Andrea {From the Bookshelf}
10 years ago

Absolutely lovely!

bridget {bake at 350}
bridget {bake at 350}
10 years ago

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow. Wow. That is one PRETTY cake! I can just hear all of the oooh's and ahhhhh's around the Internet! 😉

marla  {family fresh cooking}
marla {family fresh cooking}
10 years ago

Heather, go you! It is always best to pick out our own out of this world Birthday presents. How fabulous, pink & fun is this cake? Adorable idea.

Karen @ Mignardise
Karen @ Mignardise
10 years ago

I am so in awe of this cake – it's absolutely pinkalicious!

Bourbonnatrix
Bourbonnatrix
10 years ago

this is absolutely gorgeous! beautiful!

Becca
Becca
10 years ago

My FBLA teacher has a cotton candy machine and sells it to us kids (on the sly because the stupid distric is squeezing the "junk food" out of our lives)for $2. I think it would be super rad to have a cotton candy machine!

And I don't think I need to mention this, but I will anyway. Your cake looks absolutely gorgeous and the first thing I thought when I saw the first picture was "Oh my gosh, so fluffy!!" Your pictures take my breath away 🙂

Lora
Lora
10 years ago

If anyone deserves a cotton candy machine it's you. What a beautiful cake. Fluffy gorgeousness!

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago

You blow my mind! This cake is one of the most beautiful baked creations that I've ever seen. Stunning!

www.you-made-that.com
www.you-made-that.com
10 years ago

what a gorgeous cake!! I would love to make this for a wedding or or baby shower which ever, it's just beautiful.

Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood
Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood
10 years ago

I never baked anything this heavenly when I was a culinary school student (I wrote about it here, if you're interested: "Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood," on Amazon Kindle – http://amzn.to/oqXw1R), but this is so gorgeous, I wish I had!

Anonymous
Anonymous
10 years ago
Katherine Martinelli
Katherine Martinelli
10 years ago

Wow. Just, wow. It looks like a dream. I love that you bought a cotton candy maker. That is incredible.

Abby
Abby
10 years ago

You don't need me to tell you this, but this is a GORGEOUS cake. I love that brides are using clever ideas for their weddings, but I've never seen such a fun idea made so elegantly!

Maureen
Maureen
10 years ago

I love the birthday gift to yourself! I've seen those machines and wondered if it would sit on the shelf forever if I bought one.

The cake is gorgeous!

Yellow Dog Fever
Yellow Dog Fever
10 years ago

Good Grief!! You are AMAZING!! This will be my virtual birthday cake next week!
I really enjoy this blog & it inspires me to make more creative desserts…thanks!!

Ashley@Bakerbynature
Ashley@Bakerbynature
10 years ago

I literally saw this picture mouthing "OH MY Godddd" – you've got some major talent!! I want to have a little girl and make her beautiful cakes like this every year.

vanillasugarblog
vanillasugarblog
10 years ago

that color pink is just fabulous isn't it?
i will easily take this cake for my bday in a couple weeks.
we NEED to open up your own shop you know?
for reals? and then a food truck. lol

manhattan
manhattan
10 years ago

you're so talented .. so beautiful ..

Unknown
Unknown
10 years ago

Looks like a little girl's dream cake!

garlutti
garlutti
10 years ago

Hello from SPAIN VIGO … that delicious recipe …is fantastic ..kis MARIMI