January 16, 2012

Snowy White Cake

Friends, in honor of the recent snow in our area and my birthday week (it's in a few days!), I wanted to introduce you to one of the best cakes you will ever eat. In your life. Bold words, I know. This cake is so special, I think it would be well suited for a small wedding or your most special occasion. And this cake is such a pain in the booty to make that I only make it about once every 3 years. (It’s so special that I made it for my mom this year as a Christmas present. It’s her favorite cake in the world.)  Actually it’s not that hard. But it does involve the use of a candy thermometer. Don’t let that scare you. You definitely do need one though, unless you can eyeball the difference between the soft ball and hard crack stage of sugar boiling. I can’t, so I need a candy thermometer!

Part of what makes this cake amazing is the cooked frosting. It is indescribably delicious, like a marshmallowy, vanilla-ish smooth swirl of heaven. After a couple of days, the tip top layer of frosting hardens to a very slight crunch when you bite into it, only to give away to the pillowy creamy smoothness underneath. This cake is worth making for the frosting alone. If all you’ve experienced in your life is buttercream, oh how you must try this! Too often I find that buttercream has a slimy texture that I don’t like – this boiled frosting however, will BLOW YOUR MIND.

I want you to really SEE the shiny texture of this frosting. Do you SEE it? Do you see that sheen? See how it almost looks wet? This ain’t buttercream, folks.

The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks of all time, ‘Country Desserts’ by Lee Bailey. This book has the best peach cake in the world. The best brownie recipe in the world (the recipe calls for A POUND EACH of chocolate and butter). The best snickerdoodles. The best cobblers. Are you getting me here? This book is something that needs to be in your life if you’re serious about your treats, like I am. This southern gentleman knew his sugar.

Country Desserts

I named this treat Marshmallow Snow Cake because of its snowy white perfection, but the real name for it in ‘Country Desserts’ is Intermont White Cake. It’s a revelation. And it gets better even after a few days of sitting out.
 Ingredients for cake: 
3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup milk
6 large egg whites, at room temperature

Ingredients for White Mountain Icing:

1 cup boiling water
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour two 9 inch round cake pans. Set aside. 
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla and almond extracts. Add the dry mixture in 4 parts, alternating with the milk. 
Whisk the egg whites until foamy, then start adding the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, continuing to beat until whites stand in stiff peaks. Fold whites into the batter with an over-and-under motion. Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 (begin checking 5 minutes prior!) minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly, then loosen edges and remove from the pans to cake racks to cool completely. 
To make the icing, combine the boiling water with 2 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Cook at a rolling boil until mixture reaches soft-ball stage (238 degrees on a candy thermometer).

(This process can take up to 7-8 minutes. The temp will shoot up fast at first, but then it will take its sweet time getting up those last few degrees. Don’t rush this process or the frosting will not set up properly.) 
Meanwhile, (I do this before I make the sugar syrup) whisk whites until foamy, then start adding the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Continue whisking until whites stand in stiff peaks.
When syrup is at the correct temperature, pour into the beaten whites in a thin, steady stream, beating all the while. Ice between the cake layers, then ice the top and sides of the cake.

ENJOY! The steps involved? SO WORTH IT.


  1. Does it actually taste like marshmallow? My husband loves all things marshmallow... and would probably die and go to heaven if I made him an actual marshmallow cake. :)

  2. There is no actual marshmallow in it but I do find the frosting to have a taste somewhat akin to a soft, marshmallowy flavor -- the cake itself is vanilla plus almond... it's divine, I'm telling you!

  3. Hmmmm, I'm really curious about this- im not a big fan of marshmallows (but this isnt actuallt marshmellow) And I've never had anything like this before... I might just have to give this a try- I'm not a chocolate person so I'm always looking for a delicious non chocolate dessert. Guess I'd better acquire a candy thermometer.

  4. ha ha I just changed the title b/c I didn't want too much marshmallow confusion:) It's worth getting the candy thermometer promise!

  5. Lol- didn't want to see how many marshmallow comments you could accumulate? :) hope you have a fabulous birthday this week!

  6. Gah! I didn't mean to start a marshmallow debate. Your cake just looked so good and marshmallowy (is that even a word??) that I was excited by the prospect of serving up a real marshmallow cake for my sweetie. :)

  7. looks beautiful! My only encounter with this type of frosting ended up in the sink! :( x

  8. @Robyn and Miss B: thanks! :)

    @Michelle: no worries my sweet! I do believe real marshmallows are made in a similar fashion, only using gelatin. Thus the faint reminder of marshmallow flavor...

    @Jeska: once I didn't allow enough time for the temp to get up there on the candy thermometer -- I became impatient, and I wound up with a runny mess! ~Melissa