Simple Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting

Cover recipe- Martha Stewart Living, Simple Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting: May 2013

I always look forward to my Martha Stewart Living magazine’s monthly arrival. The gardening tips, household goodies, DIY crafts and seasonal recipes are a big draw for me. I must admit that I rarely cook from it, but I definitely read it and look at it for its “pretty” factor.

This month’s issue is celebrating Spring with fast, fresh meals, flowers and parties. There is a rather beautiful food and entertaining section in this issue. I’ve clipped the following recipes to make: Creamy Chicken with Bacon and Corn, Baked Risotto with Herbs and Lemon, Cotija and Corn Tacos with Lime and Mango, Blueberry Fool, Rhubarb Fizz and Green Goddess Salad Dressing. The cake on the cover is their Simple Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting. It was dubbed as “Sweet of the Month.” They describe it as an easy, all-purpose yellow cake that takes just a bit longer than a packaged mix. “An instant test kitchen favorite,” they say. Read my notes below to see what I thought of this recipe…

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Simple Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting

Yield: One 8-inch layer cake

Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 35 min


1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for cake pans and parchment
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


To make the cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment as well. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add eggs and beat well, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture, beating until combined. Add milk and vanilla and beat until just combined.
2. Divide the batter between pans; smooth tops with an off-set spatula. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, 33 to 35 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely.

To make the frosting:
3. Beat together the butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add salt, milk, and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. If not using immediately cover the surface of the frosting with plastic wrap. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week. Before using, bring to room temperature, then beat on low speed until smooth.

To assemble the cake:
4. Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread 1 cup frosting on top. Place the remaining cake layer on top. Spread top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting, swirling to coat in a decorative fashion. (If frosting becomes too soft, refrigerate it to firm up). Cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated overnight. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.


*I don't know how much it affects the recipe, but I did use room temperature eggs.
*The frosting in the recipe is a little bit soft. You may wish to add 3 tablespoons of milk and then assess whether or not you need to add a 4th tablespoon.
*I decorated my cake with edible dandelions (bought at Whole Foods).

Source:  Martha Stewart Living: May 2013

The results:

This is a very delicious cake! I bought edible dandelions to garnish the cake (they’re not easy to find… I got mine at Whole Foods). I had three taste-testers, and they all thought the cake was really, really, really good- tender and light. The cake was extremely simple to make. It puzzles me as to why people are so quick to grab a boxed mix when there are recipes like this one available (and it’s SO much better than a boxed mix!) The only complaint I had about the recipe was that the frosting was a little bit soft… my layers were a little slip-slidy with the frosting in between them. I refrigerated it quickly, and then it was fine.

Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?

Definitely. It fit the magazine’s theme of a fast, fresh dessert. The edible flowers adorned on top made it feel like a spring cake too.