Standing at the counter with two dozen ice creams in front of me, my mind whirled. Did I want pumpkin ice cream or maybe gingerbread? Oooh, blackberry cobbler ice cream – my favorite childhood dessert! Nope, wait – I can’t ignore the Estrogen combo: dark chocolate ice cream, served over a warm brownie, with fudgey chocolate sauce. There’s Fluffernutter! Mmmm, Cake Batter Swirl. Raspberry truffle [insert Homer Simpson girgly noise here]. The selection was dizzying.
In an effort to buy myself just a little more time before ordering dessert, I turned to my now-husband on one of our earlier dates and said, “You go first.”
“I’ll take Vanilla Bean,” he responded. Immediately. Well that back-fired on me. I’d only bought myself half a second. My next thought wasn’t of the flavor I would eventually decide upon, it was of his choice: There were more than 20 flavors of ice cream in front of us and he chose Vanilla. I was disappointed, not for his “lack of adventure,” but because who wants to steal a bite of their date’s vanilla ice cream?
[Hanging my head in shame]
I did. I internally pouted about my “second choice” ice cream being the very unexotic “plain vanilla” but I enjoyed every single stolen bite.
I’ve recently made several cakes, some for fun, some for experience, some for profit, but all for enjoyment. My favorite flavor by far has been a Tahitian Vanilla Bean cake. A moist “plain vanilla” cake studded with tiny flecks of vanilla bean – could “plain” get any better?
Vanilla Bean Cake/Cupcakes
Moist vanilla cake studded with pretty flecks of vanilla beans.
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened to room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 large eggs, at room temp
- 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, at room temp
- 2 tsp-1 Tbsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350. Butter and line two 8-inch square pans or 9-inch round pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Split and scrape the vanilla pod into the butter, discard pod (or reserve for another use). Beat for 3 minutes on medium-high speed until the butter is light and creamy in color. Stop and scrape the bowl. Cream the butter for an additional 60 seconds.
- Add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl before each addition. Add the eggs one at a time. Reduce the mixer speed. Stir vanilla into the buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an off-set spatula. Lift up the pan with the batter, and let it drop onto the counter top a couple of times to burst any air bubbles and allowing the batter to settle. Center the pans onto the lower third of the oven and let bake 45 to 50 minutes or until the cake is lightly brown on top and comes away from the sides of the pan and a skewer inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.
- Cupcakes take ~18-20 minutes.
- Let cool completely in the pans before removing the cakes and frosting.
Yields: 2 layer cake or ~28 cupcakes
Estimated time: 1 hour 15 minutes