Maybe this cake is basic as in basic, with it's millennial pink coloring and rainbow sprinkles that suggest I've been paying attention to Pinterest's obsession with all things "unicorn", but it's also basic in that I made a pretty standard cake of fluffy vanilla, sweet frosting, and sprinkles. That's it! Simple and pretty. It's up to you how aggressive you want to be with the sprinkles, but otherwise, basic.
Though I will full admit credit for everything, from the frosting, to the cake, to the sprinkles, belongs to the original inspiration and the source of the recipe, Butter & Scotch. This bar and bakery spot in Brooklyn serves up this cake by the slice, along with an extensive list of boozy drinks to wash it down. At the bar, they call this beauty a birthday cake, but I don't see any reason that this can't be a "just because" cake, especially if you reduce the recipe down to a more manageable, mini 4-inch version.
Or try to, anyway.
Let me tell you about my adventures with this cake! I read a recipe meant for three, 9-inch layers and decided I could reduce it by half and get myself three, 4-inch layers. I still maintain this sounds like reasonable math, but oh my was I wrong. Even after noting to myself the number of eggs and amount of butter and cups of flour involved, I still proceeded as planned and found myself drowning in cake batter. Like, a how am I ever going to use this up amount of it. I can only assume the original recipe would have given me cupcakes for life.
In the end, I baked up two, 4-inch layers, one 6-inch layer and a dozen cupcakes. I froze the cupcakes (then, uh, treated myself for breakfast for a few days) and the 6-inch layer and decided to just go ahead with the rest. But, this cake is a finicky one, and I didn't really like the way one of my 4-inch layers had shrunk during cooling, so I ended up scrapping it (read: stress-eating with my bare hands) and cutting a 4-inch circle out of the 6-inch layer. So, I can really only thank the recipe for ultimately yielding exactly what I wanted, plus extra scraps and a dozen frozen breakfast cupcakes. Yay?
After all that bad math and creative cake-cutting, it was a relief that the frosting was a very straight-forward mix of butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar. That mixed up easily, and I then I just plastered the sides of the cake in sprinkles. So. many. sprinkles. I finally got to use my Amy Sedaris sprinkles and I really felt she would approve. Plus, it really was very validating after all that effort for my cake to say "I like you."
Thank you, cake. I like you too.
Sprinkles & Frosting Cake
Adapted from Butter & Scotch, original recipe reduced by 1/4 for a 4-inch cake. You may have extra batter.
For the cake:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), cold, plus more for greasing pans
- 1 cup all purpose flour, plus more for dusting pans
- 1/2 cups plus 3 tbs whole milk
- 1/2 tbs vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tbs baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 egg whites
For the frosting:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 pound (1 package) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 tbs vanilla extract
- 1 lb confectioners sugar
- food coloring, if desired (I used 2 drops each of fuschia and light pink)
- sprinkles, for decorating
- Heat oven to 350 degrees and prepare cake pans. Butter two, 4-inch round cake pans. Dust with a little flour and tap out the extra.
- Dice butter into small pieces, about pea-sized, and chill until needed. Warm milk up to room temperature for a few seconds in the microwave, then stir in the vanilla and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, 1/2 cup plus 2 tbs sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix with the paddle attachment on low speed for 30 seconds, then add in the cold butter and mix on medium until the butter incorporates with the mixture to form a wet, sandy texture. Lower the speed and add in the milk and vanilla mixture. Transfer batter to a separate bowl and set aside.
- Completely clean and dry the mixer bowl and add the egg whites and remaining sugar. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high until soft peaks form. Fold the whites gently into the flour mixture until full incorporated, with no visible white streaks.
- Divide the batter between the pans (about 1/2 full) and bake 20-25 minutes, until golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then gently loosen the cakes from the pans and turn out on the rack to cool completely.
- While cakes are cooling, make the frosting: Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, until butter is fluffy. Add the cream cheese 2 ounces at a time while beating butter on medium. When cream cheese is fully blended in, add the vanilla, then lower speed and slowly add in the sugar. When all the sugar is added, add food coloring, if using, then increase the mixer speed to high and beat for 30 seconds, until fluffy and smooth.
- Cut the tops of the cake layers to even the layers if needed, then cut each cake layer in half horizontally. You now have 4 cake layers. Stack the layers, spreading a bit of frosting between each layer, then frost the sides and top as desired. Add sprinkles if you want, and pipe decorative designs with any leftover frosting if you like. Serve and enjoy!