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Snowflake Cake

To my way of thinking, behind every memorable holiday meal, there’s a great cake—the kind that looks so grand and tastes so great that it becomes an instant tradition. Look no further, because you’ve found it. I like to make the cake the night before. For decorating, I’ve suggested a drift of white chocolate snowflakes to cover the snowy frosting, but there are easier ways to top this charmer. Why not let the kids decorate it with toy skiers, skaters, or snowboarders? How about a few green gumdrop trees and a family of marshmallow snowmen?–Sara Perry

LC You Say Buttercream, We Say Buttahcream Note

This simple, silken, knee-wobblingly lovely frosting is made primarily from butter and, as a consequence, is aptly known as buttercream. In her book Holiday Baking, author Sara Perry strongly encourages us to rely on “a European-style, high-fat butter, such as Plugra (82% fat), Land 0’Lakes Ultra Creamy (83% fat), or another artisan-style organic butter with a fat content above the normal 80 percent. The added fat carries more of the vanilla flavoring to the mouth and contributes to a silkier texture.” We fully support what Perry suggests. Our only quibble? It really seems, given its indulgent nature, much more like “buttahcream” than “buttercream.”

Snowflake Cake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Makes one 9-inch layer cake

Ingredients

  • For the snowflake cake
  • 3 cups cake flour, plus more for the pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (7 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated while cold, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • For the snowflakes
  • 3 ounces white chocolate
  • Silver dragées for decorating
  • For the buttercream frosting
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, preferable a high-fat European style butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk or half-and-half
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

  • Make the snowflake cake
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with waxed or parchment paper. Butter and flour the parchment paper.
  • 2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • 3. In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat until light and nearly white, about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, and beat until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla until blended. Add the cake flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, in several additions, and beat until smooth and just blended.
  • 4. In another bowl, beat the egg whites just until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites just until incorporated and no white streaks remain.
  • 5. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, using a spatula to evenly spread the batter. Bake until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cakes cool in their pans. Gently loosen the edge of each cake with a thin knife before inverting the cakes onto wire racks. Let the cakes cool thoroughly before carefully peeling off the parchment paper. Let cool completely before frosting, about 3 hours.
  • Make the snowflakes
  • 6. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the chocolate into a resealable plastic bag and immerse the bag in hot water until the chocolate melts. Dry the bag, then snip off the tip of a corner of the bab. Pipe as many 2-inch snowflakes onto the foil as possible. Decorate the points with silver dragées, if desired. Place the sheet of snowflakes in the freezer until the cake is ready to decorate.
  • Make the buttercream frosting
  • 7. In a stand mixer on low speed, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt just until combined. Slowly increase the speed to medium-high, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary, and beat until light and creamy, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Assemble the snowcake cake
  • 8. Place a dollop of buttercream frosting in the middle of a platter to anchor the cake. Place the bottom layer of the cake on the platter, top side down. Using a narrow metal spatula, spread 1/3 of the remaining frosting over the top of the cake layer. Place the remaining cake layer on top and spread the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Remove the snowflakes from the freezer and gently peel them off the foil. Cover the top and sides of the cake with snowflakes. (Be careful as these flakes are fragile. That said, don’t worry if some of the tips break or chip; just press them back onto the cake. In a snow flurry, they’ll still look good.)
  • 9. Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour, until the buttercream frosting and snowflakes are set. If you’re serving the cake the same day it’s made, keep it at cool room temperature after chilling. To cut, use a sharp, thin-bladed knife and dip the blade into hot water in between cuts to prevent the frosting from sticking.
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