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Classic Vanilla Layer Cake with Vanilla Mascarpone Frosting & Raspberries

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Serves 12

Yields one 9-inch cake.

  • To learn more, read:
    Pure Vanilla Flavor
  • by Abigail Johnson Dodge from Fine Cooking
    Issue 71

For the cake layers:
  • 1/2 lb. (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature; more for the pan
  • All-purpose flour for the pan
  • 12 oz. (3 cups) cake flour
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • Seeds scraped from 3/4 vanilla bean, or 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
For the frosting:
  • 1 lb. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean, or 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch table salt
  • 2 pints raspberries, rinsed and patted dry
Make the cake:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and lightly flour the sides of the pans, tapping out any excess.

Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt onto a paper plate or into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat the butter with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand-held electric mixer) on medium speed until smooth, 1 min. Add 1-1/2 cups of the sugar and the vanilla bean seeds or extract. Continue beating until well combined and fluffy, 2 min. Stop to scrape the bowl as needed. Oon low speed, add the one-third of the dry ingredients at a time, alternating with 1/2 cup of the milk at a time, beginning and ending with the flour. After the last addition, scrape the bowl and mix for about 30 seconds to mix the batter fully.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer (a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand-held) on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Continue beating until the whites form medium-firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, scoop up about one-quarter of the whites and stir them gently into the cake batter to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining whites until just blended.

Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake until the tops are light brown and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 min. Set the pans on a rack and let cool for about 15 min. Run a  knife between the cake and the pan to loosen each cake. Invert the layers onto a rack, lift off the pans and peel away the parchment. Let cool completely.

Make the frosting:

In a medium bowl, combine the mascarpone, cream, sugar, vanilla seeds or extract, and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat on low speed until almost smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the mixture is thick and holds firm peaks, another 30 to 60 seconds. Don’t overbeat or the frosting will look grainy.

Assemble the cake:

Using your hands, gently brush away any excess crumbs from the layers. Set one cake layer, top side down, on a flat serving plate. To protect the plate from smears, slide small strips of foil or parchment under the bottom of the cake to cover the plate. Using a metal spatula or the back edge of a table knife, spread about 2 cups of the frosting evenly over the layer. Arrange about half the berries in a single layer on the frosting but leave a half-inch ring of space around the edge of the cake uncovered. Place the second cake layer, top side down, on top of the frosting. Be sure the sides are aligned and then press gently on the layer. Apply a very thin layer of frosting over the entire cake to seal in any stray crumbs. Chill in the refrigerator for 5 min. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, leaving lots of swirls and peaks on the top. Garnish the top with remaining berries. Carefully remove the foil or parchment strips from under the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 4 hours or up to two days. To keep the fruit looking fresh, cover the cake loosely with plastic after it has chilled for 1 hour.

Classic Vanilla Layer Cake with Vanilla Mascarpone Frosting & Raspberries Recipe
Arrange half of the berries on the frosting; use any less-than-perfect berries for this layer.
Classic Vanilla Layer Cake with Vanilla Mascarpone Frosting & Raspberries Recipe
Apply a crumb coat—a very thin layer of frosting—over the entire cake.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on twelve servings; Calories (kcal): 750; Fat (g): 49; Fat Calories (kcal): 440; Saturated Fat (g): 29; Protein (g): 9; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13; Carbohydrates (g): 73; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3; Sodium (mg): 420; Cholesterol (mg): 145; Fiber (g): 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

OMG the frosting is to-die -for!

Made this for a gathering of friends and it was perfect. Cake holds up perfectly to frosting, which is light but holds its shape. And absolutely delicious.

When I read the recipe, I thought it looked complicated, but delicious. It was actually quite simple, except that I doubled the recipe for a double height 11" x 13" cake and the frosting took about 8 minutes to come together--not 2. It was quite tasty!

This is a sensational cake. It's not too sweet, has a nice moist crumb and is especially good in early summer when local, fresh raspberries are available. It is truly a crowd-pleaser.

I made this cake for a friends birthday. I made it the day before and it was fantastic! I put strawberries macerated with Grand Marnier and honey in the middle and did not put any fruit on the top. I am looking forward to making it again when fresh raspberries are in season.

I made this cake as an entry for my country fair, so I did not have an opportunity to taste the cake. However, it must have tasted great because it won first place. I did get a chance to taste the frosting, and it was absolutely fantastic! It would be very refreshing summer dessert!

This cake is pure heaven. The mascarpone cheese frosting is sumptuously rich yet light and not overly sweet. It also presents very well.

What I seen of the picture it would be a good cake so I rate this cake.

The frosting on this cake steals the show, though everyone agreed that the cake was tasty, moist and rich but not heavy. There ends up being a lot of frosting, so next time I would put more in the center. Make sure you have all of your ingredients, especially the egg whites, at room temp or you will not get the consistency that you need. I am making this cake again for my birthday!

I'm not normally much of a cake fan but when family visits, I usually do the cooking and my girls do the baking. This was a big hit over Labor Day weekend at our last get-together on Lake Geneva, WI. The chefs started raving about it before it was even served. The hype was worth it. Even those not prone to dessert couldn't resist. Now I've been asked to pass the recipe on for parties in Minneapolis and Las Vegas. I suspect it will migrate elsewhere over the next several months. Very moist and frosting to die for.

Got rave reviews! Cake was light but moist, and the mascarpone made it special. Will definitely bake again.

Definitely needs to sit for longer than four hours before cutting; much better the next day. The first day it fell apart while cutting. Also wonder why so much baking powder. It lends an acrid taste in my opinion. Otherwise, very tasty and quite popular with guests.

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