It's my birthday and I'll *gain10pounds* if I want to . . .

* Please sing along to the tune of "It's My Party." *
Have you ever made yourself a birthday cake?  After reading The Pastry Queen , I decided that this would be my year to bake my own cake.

I'm gonna tell you right now....I am NOT a cake decorator.  (That's probably obvious by now.)  It wasn't gorgeous, but it was GOOD!

The Pastry Queen is one of those cookbooks where you feel like you've gained 10 pounds just from READING it.  I LOVE reading the stories behind recipes; they actually make me a bit teary...the back story and memories behind the food.

One of the recipes that caught me eye was the White-on-White Buttermilk Cake with Jack Daniel's Buttercream.  I changed it up just a bit, adding vanilla bean paste and almond extract to the cake and the buttercream I changed to amaretto.
BE WARNED....this buttercream is RICH.  And buttery.  REALLY buttery.  As in, I think Paula Deen would marry it.  Delicious, yes, but I might switch it up for a less buttery buttercream next go-round.

Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake with Amaretto Buttercream
{adapted from The Pastry Queen}

3 c. cake flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
2 and 1/3 c. sugar
3 large egg whites, room temp.
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 and 1/2 c. buttermilk, room temp.

Place oven racks on the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Preheat to 350.  Line the bottom of three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper.  Butter the pans and coat with flour.

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs whites, vanilla bean past and almond extract.  Beat on medium speed until combined, scraping down bowl as needed.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on low, until combined.  Add half the buttermilk, beat until combined.  Continue alternating ingredients, ending with the flour.  Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl as needed.

Spoon the batter into prepared pans.  Place 2 pans on the top rack and the third on the bottom rack.  Bake for 25-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  (The pans may be done at different times.)

Allow the cakes to cool in the pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Invert the cakes onto the cooling racks and cool completely.

Amaretto Buttercream

3 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 c. water
2 c. sugar
6 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
1/4 tsp. salt
3 TBSP. amaretto

Using the whisk attachment of your mixer, whip the eggs and yolks on high speed for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar.  Simmer until the mixture registers between 234-240 degrees (soft-ball stage) on a candy thermometer.  Immediately pour the mixture into a heatproof measuring cup with a spout.  With the mixer on low, add the sugar mixture to the eggs in a slow, thin stream.  Increase the speed to medium and beat about 7 minutes, until the syrup has cooled.  (The bowl should be barely warm.)

Add the butter, a half stick at a time, and beat on medium speed about 30 seconds after each addition.  After all of the butter has been added, beat on medium speed for 3 additional minutes, until slightly thickened.  Stir in the salt and amaretto.

{It's so smooth and glossy!!!}

Frost the completely cooled cake.  Cover the will keep at room temperature for 2 days.

{I use strips of wax paper slipped underneath the cake when frosting.  Once the cake is frosted, pull out the strips and your cake plate will be clean around the edges.}

And those 10 pounds you'll gain from the buttercream?  I hear they plump up and smooth out wrinkles. ;)

Have you ever made your own birthday cake?
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