Recently a friend asked me to bake a cake for her baby’s one month birthday celebration. According to Chinese customs, we celebrate the first month of life, and also when the baby is formally introduced to the extended family and friends for the first time. A ceremony or celebration is held, and is called a Chinese full moon celebration (彌月) or a red egg party because eggs are dyed red to symbolize luck and blessings before given to relatives and friends. A feast with traditional cakes and pastries is served in addition to these red-dyed eggs.
My friend and her family decided to have more Western influences on their baby’s celebration. As such, they asked me to bake a Western style cake, enough to feed 50 people. The celebration was scheduled towards the end of September, when I could still get a hold of some fresh summer ingredients. I don’t have huge commercial sized cake pans at home, so I decided to make a four layer cake with tastes of summer. Many Chinese elders do not prefer the really sweet cakes that have buttercream icing or generous amounts of chocolate.
Usually when you make a four layer round cake, you bake two round cakes and cut the cake into two more layers. For this cake, I actually baked four cakes and stacked them together for a super high cake. Here I have provided the recipe proportions for just two round cakes. If you desire to get the desired height and volume as shown in the cover photo, just double the recipe and bake as directed! You might have to bake in two batches if you only have two round cake pans. The result? An absolutely glamorous show-stopping cake.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake & pastry flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 butter, softened at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 to 5 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup strawberry jam
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries and/or raspberries
1 cup blueberries
A few whole strawberries
3/4 cup whipping cream or Nutriwhip
Preheat oven to 350oF. Grease bottoms of two 8-inch round cake pans (cooking spray such as Pam works well). Line bottoms of pans with waxed paper, and then grease and flour pans. Set pans aside.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Add the water, oil, milk, and vanilla. Beat with a wire whisk or wooden spoon until smooth.
In a stand mixer bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, and the tips of each peak curl. Gradually add sugar, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form, and the tips of each peak stand straight. Fold the egg white mixture into the batter. Spread evenly into prepared pans.
Bake for 22 to 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans by turning onto wire cooling racks. Cool completely on racks.
To assemble, use a long serrated knife or bread knife to cut cake layers in half horizontally. Place on layer, cut side down, on a serving plate or 9-inch cardboard cake round.
Make buttercream: In a stand mixer bowl, beat 1/2 cup softened butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add 3 cups of confectioners’ sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in 3 tbsp milk and 2 tsp vanilla extract. Gradually beat in 2 more cups of confectioners’ sugar. Beat in additional milk, 1 tsp at a time, to reach spreading consistency.
Spread with a generous 3/4 cup of buttercream, and then with 1/4 cup of strawberry jam. Top with 1 cup of the sliced berries and some blueberries. Place a second cake layer on top, cut side down and spread with 3/4 cup buttercream, 1/4 cup strawberry jam, and sliced berries. Repeat with the third cake layer.
Pour whipping cream into a stand mixer bowl and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Place the last cake layer, cut side down, on top of the cake. Spread with whipping cream and the remaining strawberry jam. Arrange some blueberries and whole strawberries on top.