Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. We’re looking forward to a few months of both sweet and savory dishes using vanilla.
Right after Sarah and I picked vanilla as the ingredient of the season, this recipe for a double vanilla butter cake was published on A Cup of Jo, and I knew we had to try it! This cake is so delicious served plain, but we also enjoyed ours for breakfast with a side of berries and as an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee. Calder said that it reminded him of cakes he was served in Germany… and while I don’t have a specific example in mind, as soon as he said that, I couldn’t agree more, and was immediately transported back to my time there, having a snack on a train or stopping in to a little cafe for breakfast.
The original recipe called for both vanilla extract and vanilla paste, thus the double in its name. I didn’t have paste, and at first I wanted to make some, but after looking up a few different recipe and seeing that each one used different techniques, I felt unprepared to waste my precious beans on something I wasn’t sure about. Maybe I’ll do a bit more research and discuss vanilla bean paste in another post. Instead, I took the author’s advice and substituted vanilla extract for the paste, but then I used vanilla sugar (details at the end of the post) to dust the pan, keeping with the call for two types of vanilla.
Other than the vanilla substitution, I followed the ingredient list as specified. One minor change I made was baking the cake in a slightly larger pan. I wanted to use my springform pan, because I love being able to pop it open to remove a cake. I also don’t like having to line a pan with parchment, as the recipe suggested, and I knew the springform would work well if I had any issues with the cake sticking (I didn’t). As a result, my cake is not as thick as the original, but I adjusted the cooking time slightly, and the end result was still delicious.
And on the subject of the cake’s height, as you’ll see, this recipe doesn’t call for any leavening agents. It gets its height from the air bubbles that are whipped into the eggs. So remember to be gentle when folding in the flour and butter. And, if you’re cooking with kids, this is a great cake to bake in contrast to a cake that does contain baking powder and/or baking soda. You can talk about the difference in techniques and the chemical reactions that occur with leavening agents.
- 1 cup sugar + a dash of vanilla sugar for dusting the pan
- 3 eggs at room temp (or slightly warmed in a bowl of warm water)
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup flour
- 14 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and dust the bottom and sides of an 8 inch cake pan (the original recipe called for lining the pan in parchment, but I skipped that step).
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs with 1 cup sugar for about 4-5 minutes. The mixture should have about doubled in size and should fall in ribbons from the beaters.
- Gently stir in the vanilla extract and salt.
- Sift the flour over the egg mixture and then gently fold it in with a spatula, being careful not to deflate the mixture too much.
- Add the melted butter and continue gently folding it in with the spatula until well-mixed.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes. The cake should have pulled away from the sides of the pan when it is done.
- Remove the cake from the oven, run a knife around its edge, and let it sit for 5 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Vanilla sugar is made by simply putting one to two (or more) sliced vanilla beans in a couple of cups of sugar and letting it sit for a week or two. The sugar absorbs the vanilla flavor and with continued use and mixing, will become sprinkled with seeds from the sliced bean. You can use it anywhere you would use regular sugar and where you would want to have the delicate vanilla flavor. I like mine in coffee, but it goes well in baked goods as used here to dust the pan.
Fun fact : vanilla sugar has a sweet spot in my heart because we offered it as one of the favors at our wedding. It was a great non-liquid option for guests that had to pack a carry-on to fly home.