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January 16, 2017

Frootfetti Cake (or Früt/”Fruit”-fetti Cake)

Wait, what’s all this then?? Didn’t I just say one post ago that one of my resolutions was to be healthier? And now there is a goddamn cake recipe here?!

You caught me. I did say that. But then I also decided that healthier doesn’t have to necessarily mean “devoid of cake” because quite simply, a good cake makes me happy. And what’s the point of being “healthy” if I’m just bummed out all the time from the distinct lack of cake in my life? I don’t want to get hit by a bus and have my dying thought be “goddamnit I should’ve eaten that cake, why did I endure six weeks of endless grain bowls.”

So to kick off a year of being healthier and happier, here is a cake. It is not a healthy cake because there is no such thing. A good cake will contain butter and sugar and flour (or some kind of flour alternative at the very least), so might as well just let it be what it is. But if you’re going to treat yourself, why not go big, like with a fun cake studded with Fruity Pebbles “funfetti.” This thing can be part of your very unbalanced complete breakfast once in a while.

An old coworker gave me Tessa Huff’s beautiful book Layered for Christmas, and so this is a riff on the strawberry confetti cake inside. Something I didn’t do for this particular cake (but that I included in my recipe below) is steeping some Fruity Pebbles in the milk before baking with it. I imagine that’d only bump up the cereal flavor by a delicious percent (whatever percentage that might be).


NOTE: If you have an avid cake baker in your life, I recommend getting them this cookbook — there are many tips and tricks. And most pleasingly, there was this beautifully simple recipe for Swiss buttercream, which I vastly prefer to American buttercream because I am a snobby snob hailing from Snobville, Population: Me. Join me here. We have cake.

P.S. Isn’t this the raddest cake server? Shout out to my cousin Phyllis for getting it to me for Christmas!

Frootfetti Cake
Adapted from Tessa Huff’s “Strawberry Confetti Cake” in Layered

Yield: One 4-layer, 8-inch cake
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes (without rest/cooling time)

For the cake:

  • 3  1/4 cups (430 g) cake flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 6 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1  1/2 cups cereal milk* (see below) or whole milk
    • 1  1/2 cups whole milk
    • 3/4 cups Fruity Pebbles
  • 1 cup Fruity Pebbles

For the strawberry cream filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup strawberry purée (see below)
    • 1 quart strawberries (frozen or fresh), hulled
    • 2 tbs sugar
    • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp strawberry extract (optional)

For the buttercream frosting:

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbs egg whites (from about 5-6 large eggs), room temperature
  • 1  1/4 cups (250 g) sugar
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into tbs-sized pieces
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Other:

  • Two 8-inch cake pans

 


 

Make the strawberry purée:
Blend the strawberries, sugar, and salt together in a blender or food processor. Set aside. This will be used in the strawberry cream filling.

 

Make the cereal milk:
Put the Fruity Pebbles in a large bowl and pour the milk over it. Give it a good stir to get all the cereal wet and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain into another bowl using a fine sieve and discard the cereal solids. Set aside.

 

Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line the cake pans.

Sift together the cake flour and baking powder in a large bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter with the paddle attachment of your mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high until the butter is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.

With the mixer on medium-low, add in the vanilla and almond extracts, then the egg yolks one at a time. Scrape down the bowl again.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the cereal milk and beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Be careful to not overmix! Stop the mixer as soon as the last streaks of flour are incorporated into the batter. Gently fold in 1 cup of Fruity Pebbles, using as few strokes as possible.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then turn the cakes out of their pans to completely cool.

 

Make the strawberry cream filling:
Beat the cream cheese and butter with the paddle attachment of your mixer on medium speed until it’s smooth. With the mixer on low, add in the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time so that it doesn’t fly everywhere and coat you and your counters in a fine white dust. Once all the powdered sugar is in, add the strawberry purée and strawberry extract (if using) and beat on medium-high until it is smooth and creamy. Transfer this to another bowl and set aside.

 

Assemble the cake, part one:
Once the cakes are cooled, leveled, and split into 4 layers, it’s assembly time! Begin with the bottom layer and spread a third of the strawberry cream on top. Top it with another cake layer, and spread another third of the strawberry cream on top. Repeat one more time and top with one final cake layer.

Pop this into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the cake and filling to set up. If you notice the cake filling at the bottom layer is oozing out, wrap a piece of plastic wrap snugly around it before letting it set up in the fridge. While this is going on, make the buttercream frosting for the outside of the cake.

 

Make the buttercream frosting:
Put the egg whites in the bowl of stand mixer and whisk it with the sugar until it’s well combined. Heat a few inches of water in a medium saucepan until it is simmering and put the mixing bowl over it so that it touches the simmering water, but not the bottom of the saucepan. Whisk continually until the egg whites thicken and become hot to the touch.

Immediately return the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk attachment until the mixing bowl has cooled back to room temperature and the egg whites are holding medium-stiff peaks. Then, replace the whisk attachment with the paddle one. With the mixer on low, add the butter one tablespoon at a time. Then, add in the vanilla extract. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat until it’s all smooth. Transfer it into another bowl and set aside.

In the now empty mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with the paddle attachment of your mixer on medium speed until it’s smooth. Add the buttercream back in, then the almond extract. Beat on medium until smooth.

 

Assemble the cake, part two:
Once the cake and filling are set, take it out of the fridge and frost the entire outside of the cake with the buttercream. Obviously, if you used plastic to keep the filling in place while it was in the fridge, remove that first!

Decorate with additional Fruity Pebbles and pop this back into the fridge for about 15 minutes for it to firm up again. After that, you can serve it right away. However, I find that cakes often improve in flavor and texture if you let them rest for a few hours. Set it out covered with a dome (or loosely with plastic wrap) on a countertop for 4 hours or up to overnight. Or, you can store it covered in the fridge — just let it come back to room temperature before serving.

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