The BwB Home Baking Academy!

Hi Family! It’s May 1, 2022, it’s irrationally early in the morning in Maryland (and STILL too cold for spring 🥶), and I’m sitting here, giddy and full of gratitude.

The Begin with Butter Home Baking Academy’s first TWO courses will be released exactly nine days from now, and as I think about the journey to get to this point, I am so amazed and so proud. A little exhausted too, but mostly amazed and proud.

But first…

What is the Home Baking Academy?

The Home Baking Academy is a series of downloadable-on-demand courses, created by yours truly. Its goal is simple: to demystify baking with thoughtfully-designed, fun curricula designed especially for home bakers, aspiring bloggers and cottage bakers. The ultimate goal is for those bakers to feel completely empowered in the kitchen. The courses contain video instruction, PDF downloads, and access to me, as well as a tremendous community of supportive bakers who support one another.

Ready to learn more?

Visit the BwB Home Baking Academy

The initial two courses focus on cake specifically, but there’s a robust curriculum currently in development (next up: bread basics!), so that you can continue learning about baking science and techniques in a fun and approachable way!

These courses are geared towards beginning and intermediate bakers who want to deepen their understanding of the principles of baking. Understanding the principles will help you create more consistent, delicious baked goods: you’ll know the “what” and the “why” every time you set foot in the kitchen. And that knowledge is liberating!

What Courses Are Available?

Starting on May 10th, you’ll be able to download the first TWO courses! The first, Perfecting Cake Basics (USD $167.00), is for people who want to free themselves from others’ baking recipes; instead of following the rules, they want to literally write them. Whether you want to create your own cake recipes from scratch, or whether you want to be able to change existing cake recipes with confidence, this course is for you!

The second course, Perfecting Cake Techniques (USD $67.00), is for bakers who want to learn the techniques that will help them make consistently delicious cakes. This course is my love letter to anyone who isn’t exactly sure how to properly cream butter and sugar, and for those people who can’t understand why their cake batters are frequently curdled. This course is also perfect for people who are just starting to bake, and who want to avoid a very costly and steep learning curve!

(note: a costly and steep learning curve is a completely legitimate way to learn how to bake. It’s how I learned! But it’s not necessary.)

What Level of Baker Can Take These Courses?

These courses are geared toward all levels! However, if you’re completely new to baking, and just trying to get a handle on the basics, then I’d recommend starting with Perfecting Cake Techniques. Learning the techniques will give you tremendous confidence! And the other course will be there when you’re ready!

If you’re ready to take your baking skills to the next level, and you want to start creating your very own cake recipes, then Perfecting Cake Basics is your course! Not only will you master the techniques that are covered in the Perfecting Cake Techniques course, you’ll learn fundamental baking equipment, the science of ingredients, and the magic of ratios as well! It’s truly freeing to be able to pick up flour, sugar, butter, and eggs and make something from your own inspiration.

Bakers of any level can take the self-paced Perfecting Cake Basics course, because it contains fun lab assignments that help you deepen your baking knowledge even more! And there’s oodles of support, both from me and the community of bakers who have come before you!

Why Should I Take a Course?

When you’re learning to bake, you can absolutely read and experiment. And read and experiment. And read and experiment some more. I learned exactly this way and it took me several years (and thousands of dollars in ingredients) to master basic cake techniques. First, there was the matter of finding great sources (like my absolute favorite baking textbooks), then digesting the information in those books, and practicing what I’d learned. I had no idea whether I was even on the right track until I’d spent hours reading and practicing. But, since culinary school was out of the question and I was determined to learn in a way that made sense to me, I kept at it.

For the first year, all of my attempts were hit or miss, and I was pretty dejected and frustrated a lot of the time. But I was remained determined, and I had wonderfully supportive taste testers, so I kept going.

I created these courses for the 2014 version of me; I wanted to shorten the learning curve (and those dejected feelings) for others. The truth is that trial and error has always been an effective teacher. The goal of these courses, though, is to cut down on the trial and error phase! With all of the information in one place, as well as a community to let you know you’re on the right track, you’re set up for success the moment you click “buy”. 😊

Where Can I Learn More?

The Begin with Butter Home Baking Academy is located on my Thinkific platform. You can go directly to the main Home Baking Academy Page right here! Or, you can click here to send an email with your questions! I love hearing from community members and am happy to answer any questions that you have about the courses. 😊

Happy Sunday Y’all! And Happy First Day of May!


(psst….want a free lesson? Go ahead and sign up for the mailing list!)

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Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Hi Friends!

Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out the best tips and techniques to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

And I do mean a lot of time. So much time, in fact, that I’ve hit a lot of common snags in the process, and have tested different methods for fixing those snags!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (or SMBC for short) is luscious and airy and decadent. The version that I settled on for my Limoncello Layer Cake is perfectly balanced between sweet and buttery, and the texture…

FAMILY…THE TEXTURE…

But while Swiss Meringue Buttercream is incredibly rewarding, it has a bit of a reputation for being difficult to make. Which is a shame, really. Because it belongs on everything.

So I’m here today to walk you through the whole process from start to finish! Let’s gooooooo!

Before You Begin

The main ingredients in Swiss Meringue Buttercream are egg whites, granulated sugar, and, ahem, butter. 😊 So it’s best to have the best ingredients that you can source to get the most out of this amazing cake topper.

Speaking of egg whites, I always separate fresh eggs to make meringue. I’ve heard legendary tales of people who are able to whip carton egg whites to stiff peaks, but I have never seen carton egg whites whip up to the beautiful, stable stiff peaks that I’ve gotten consistently with freshly separated egg whites.

More on egg whites (because I’m clearly invested): the egg whites have to be completely separated in order for the meringue to work. Because any trace of egg yolk in your egg whites (or residual fat in your mixing bowl) could prevent the meringue from forming properly, which wouldn’t be a good sign for your buttercream.

Weather will play an important role in making SMBC. If it’s hot and humid outside, it can take longer for the buttercream to finally come together. It’s definitely doable though!

The temperature of the butter plays a huge part in the success of this buttercream. If the butter itself is too warm, then it could actually prevent the buttercream from fully forming and encourage a soupy, separated mess. If it’s too cold, you could get chunks of butter that don’t nicely incorporate into your buttercream.

Plan to take your time. This buttercream is extremely decadent but it is not a “quick and easy” recipe (quick: no; easy: YES!). I’ve never had a good SMBC come together in less than 45-60 minutes, and sometimes it takes longer than that if your buttercream has to take a time out!

Intimidated? Don’t be! For visual learners, I even did an entire Office Hours on SMBC the other day, which you can view right here!

First Steps

To make Swiss Meringue Buttercream, first begin by separating egg yolks from egg whites. I separate using my hands, but a separating tool or the shell-to-shell method work just as well. Note that your egg whites will look yellow-ish at this stage. If the yolk is intact when it’s separated, it’s all good.

Next, add the separated egg whites and granulated sugar to a stainless steel stand mixer bowl and whisk with a balloon whisk until most of the snotty texture from the egg whites is broken up and incorporated.

Place two or three inches of water into a large saucepan (large enough to accommodate the whole bottom of your stainless steel mixing bowl, but not enough to touch the bottom of the mixing bowl) and bring to a boil. Reduce the water to a steady simmer.

Place the mixing bowl over the saucepan while the water is simmering, making sure not to touch the water beneath. Stir constantly with the balloon whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. This takes anywhere from 2-4 minutes. It’s important that the sugar is completely dissolved before moving on from this stage. You can check by rubbing a very small amount of the mixture between your fingers. If you feel absolutely no sugar granules and the mixture looks completely uniform (no snotty streaks!), then you’re ready to move on!

Making Meringue

From the double boiler, place the mixing bowl directly on your stand mixer. Both the bowl and mixture will be pretty warm, so be careful! Using the whisk attachment, start mixing on low speed (on a KitchenAid Artisan, this would be speed 2-3). Keep going for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture stops sloshing around in your bowl.

Turn up the speed to medium (on a KitchenAid Artisan, this would be about speed 4-5) and allow the mixture to continue working for anywhere from 4-10 minutes (you read that correctly; temperature and humidity can impact this step greatly). The meringue will go from a yellow-ish color to a stark white color during this second phase of mixing, but it will still be very loose. *Note: this is also the time when I usually cut my butter into chunks of about 1-1.5 tablespoons.*

Turn your mixer up to max power and let ‘er rip. This is one of the few times that I open my mixer wide up like this, and honestly, I think my mixer appreciates the opportunity to show off. Keep an eye on your mixer; the meringue will start to climb the bowl once it’s formed.

For a great video on meringue technique, check out this short video!

For SMBC, we want a stiff meringue. This buttercream is different from the meringue on my Easter Coconut Cake, my Coconut Meringue Pound Cake, and my Lemon Meringue Pound Cake in this regard; those all use a more floppy meringue topping. Here, we want a nearly stiff peak. So, in addition to climbing the bowl, we’re looking for meringue that doesn’t slide back down the sides of the bowl after climbing it. You’ll be able to see when it reaches this stage.

Test the meringue by pulling the whisk attachment out of the bowl. If the meringue peaks don’t flop over and are nearly stiff, you’re ready to move on.

Becoming Buttercream

The temperature and timing of the butter are especially important to Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

Family. Practice is key!

With your mixer on low/medium speed, add 1-1.5 tablespoon-sized pats of butter at a time.

Some people like to switch from the whisk attachment to the flat beater attachment on their stand mixer, to get a smoother buttercream. This is purely a matter of personal preference; staying with the whisk attachment will lead to a lighter, more whipped Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and the flat beater attachment will lead you to a smoother, more uniform buttercream.

Both have their place, but I love the look, texture and mouthfeel of a slightly whipped Swiss Meringue Buttercream in the spring and summer months.

Don’t add another pat of butter until the previous pat is completely mixed into the meringue.

Make sure that you only add 1-1.5 tablespoons of butter at a time. My butter cuts are never perfect, but if a piece gets larger than 1.5 tablespoons, I know that it needs to be cut down. Adding too much butter at once can encourage the buttercream to separate instead of forming.

A Word…

Yes, this note deserved its own heading, because it’s the place where people think they’ve gone horribly wrong.

Remember that gorgeous, fluffy, stiff meringue that we made to start this endeavor?

Of course you remember. It took half an hour to make! 😊

It WILL deflate a bit once you start adding butter. RIP to the first few batches of SMBC that I threw away at this point, thinking that I’d ruined them.

As the fat in the butter disperses into the meringue, the meringue will deflate quite a bit. As the video just showed, it might actually even become kind of runny.

KEEP. GOING. DON’T. PANIC.

Keep adding butter, on pat at a time, with your mixer on a consistent low/medium speed. You will be almost at the end of the butter phase (usually 3-5 pats of butter left) before you’ll notice a buttercream texture. If your buttercream starts to thicken too long before those last 3-5 pats of butter, turn the speed down and keep going.

Yes, really! You don’t want it to come together too quickly or you risk over-mixing it.

After all of the butter is fully incorporated into the buttercream, and no traces of butterfat remain, add the vanilla and salt. Continue mixing on low/medium speed, just until you see the buttercream reach a smooth, fluffy consistency.

Pro Tip: For an even more fluffy consistency, stop mixing at this point and refrigerate the buttercream for about thirty minutes. Finish with a flat beater for the most amazing buttercream of your life!

The Big Finish

If it’s worked consistently (and not over-whipped), Swiss Meringue Buttercream comes together in about 45-60 minutes. A lot of this has to do with air temperature as well, since a warmer kitchen will make the butter melt faster. Faster butter melt contributes to soupy buttercream, so in really warm weather, I’ll leave the butter in the refrigerator for a longer period of time.

At the time you start adding butter, your butter should still be cool, but not straight from the refrigerator. If the butter is room temperature (like it would be if you were making a cake or cookies), it’s generally too warm for Swiss Meringue Buttercream and you should start again with cooler butter.

When it’s done, it’s a dream. It can be spread on cakes, piped on cupcakes, or just eaten with a spoon (don’t judge me).

It’s definitely a time commitment, but it’s totally worth it. It can also be made several days ahead! In order to revive it, allow it to sit on the countertop for 10-15 minutes, then put it back into a stainless steel mixing bowl over a double boiler. Stay with it and keep it over the double boiler just until you see the sides start to melt.

The very instant that you see the sides of the buttercream begin to melt, put it back on the stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until it’s smooth and dreamy. It will be as fresh and ready to use as if you’d piped it directly after making it.

Troubleshooting FAQs for Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Swiss Meringue Buttercream is a process, to be sure, but it can also be a little intimidating to execute. I’ve gotten a lot of amazing questions about this buttercream since I posted my Limoncello Layer Cake, so I’ll answer some of them here! If you have additional questions, ask away! I’m happy to update this section.

In general, there are two pieces of advice for Swiss Meringue Buttercream; either put it in the fridge (a “time out” as it were) or keep mixing. I’ll explain further in each FAQ:

At the end of the mixing time, my buttercream looks really watery and loose. Can it be saved?

It’s possible! The most important thing to do at that point is to stop mixing, as loose buttercream at the end of mixing means it is over mixed. Take the buttercream off of the mixer and place it in the refrigerator for an hour. Yes, an hour. The butterfat needs an opportunity to firm back up so that it can help create the buttercream texture. I call this a buttercream time out!

My egg whites won’t go to stiff peaks. What do I do?

The meringue part of Swiss Meringue Buttercream is actually the most time consuming part of the whole process. In a KitchenAid mixer, it usually takes about 20-25 minutes to make a good, stiff meringue from start to finish. If you’re at the 20-minute mark and the meringue still isn’t at stiff peaks, check your temperature. Is it hot and humid in your kitchen? Then a 15-20 minute meringue timeout in the fridge will help!

My buttercream is chunky. What do I do?

Make sure your butter is the right consistency before adding it to your buttercream. If it’s too cool, then it won’t transition seamlessly into your buttercream; it will break into pieces. If you’re adding butter too quickly then you’ll start to get a chunky buttercream. Once you notice this, stop adding butter until the butter that is already in the buttercream gets completely smooth.

My buttercream looked perfect and then got really lumpy and gross! Should I throw it out?

Don’t throw it out! It’s just been over-whipped and needs a good time out in the fridge. Start with 30-45 minutes (depending on how hot your kitchen is), then gently try to re-mix it on medium speed using your flat beater. If it doesn’t show signs of coming together within 10-15 seconds (yes, that quickly!), then it needs more of a time out in the fridge.

This SMBC has been my literal obsession for longer than would be sane to admit. But I’m so happy that I spent the time with it that it needed. I hope you have an amazing time, making incredible cakes, with this as the final topping. It’s the LBD that every cakes needs, in my humble opinion.

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Swiss Meringue Buttercream


  • Author: Shani
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour

Description

This Swiss Meringue Buttercream is perfectly sweet and perfectly buttery.  It belongs on everything.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 8 egg whites
  • 450 g (2.25 c) granulated sugar
  • 350 g butter, cut into 1-tbsp sized pieces
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Bring 3” of water to a low boil in a large (3 qt.) sauce pan.  Reduce to a simmer.
  2. Cut cold butter into 1-tbsp pieces and set aside.
  3. Carefully separate 8 eggs, placing the whites in a very clean, nonreactive metal bowl (either a stand mixer or large stainless steel bowl).  Add sugar and stir to combine.
  4. Place metal bowl over the top of the sauce pan while the water is simmering.  Whisk the egg white mixture over the sauce pan until all of the sugar is completely dissolved.  (~3 minutes)
  5. Remove the metal bowl from the stove.  Using the whisk attachment on either your hand mixer or your stand mixer, whisk the mixture on lowest speed until it is nearly opaque.  (~1-2 minutes)
  6. Increase the mixer to medium speed until the mixture begins to look light and fluffy.  (~4 minutes for stand mixer; ~5-6 minutes for hand mixer)
  7. Increase the mixer to highest speed until the meringue has reached nearly stiff peaks.  The meringue should be lukewarm before moving onto the next step.  This step could take anywhere from 10-15 minutes.  If the meringue doesn’t form nearly stiff peaks after this time, place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes and whip again.
  8. With the mixer on medium speed, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time.  Make sure that each tablespoon of butter is fully incorporated before adding the next tablespoon. (8-10 minutes)
  9. It is important to note that the Swiss Meringue Buttercream will begin to look more liquid while you add the butter.  Keep going!  It will firm back up as you get toward the end of the butter additions!
  10. After adding the last tablespoon of butter, you can switch to the paddle attachment on your mixer if you’d prefer a smoother buttercream.  Mix the buttercream on medium speed until it reaches a firm texture.  This generally takes between 2-6 minutes, but the temperature and humidity of your kitchen will be the big determining factor.  Watch your mixer carefully to make sure that the buttercream doesn’t curdle.
  11. If the buttercream won’t firm up, place the bowl into a refrigerator for about an hour.  Mix again on medium speed until it reaches a firm texture.
  12. Add salt and vanilla and mix until it again reaches a firm texture.
  13. Use as desired.  This buttercream should be stiff enough to pipe onto cupcakes or cake (if desired).

Notes

  • This recipe makes more than enough for a “naked” cake.  If you’d like to have more frosting, you can scale this recipe by 1.5 times and have plenty for a three layer, 8-inch cake.

The Easter Coconut Cake

This post is sponsored by Vermont Creamery. However, all of the opinions are my own.

Spoiler alert: my opinion of Vermont Creamery is that their products are the GOAT.


Family. Easter just got an upgrade. Birthdays just got an upgrade. Sunday dinners just got an upgrade. This coconut cake is unbelievable and I am incredibly proud of it.

When I start my cake development journey, I’ll often close my eyes and daydream about the finished project. Let it come to me in a dream, as it were. The crumb. The taste. The smell. The perfect bite.

This cake came to me in one of those dreams. And, thanks largely to the incredible butter and crème frâiche from Vermont Creamery, the vision of a cake that came to me in a dream is now available to you all in real life.

Why Vermont Creamery?

Y’all know I love a good story. And this is a good story.

You see, the name Begin with Butter isn’t accidental. It’s an homage to the fact that I truly believe that the quality of key ingredients-like butter-play an important role in the outcome of baked goods. For that reason, I always try to use the best ingredients I can afford.

Over the years, I’ve become particularly picky about the butter that I use in my recipes.

For me, it really does Begin. With. Butter.

You see, butter is a multi-tool that impacts color, texture, and flavor of your baked goods. While the right one can take your cookies, cakes and breads over the top, the wrong one can leave you with an underwhelming outcome.

When it comes to butter, there are two characteristics that make the difference: the butterfat percentage and whether the butter is sweet cream butter or cultured butter.

I did a post on butter basics a while ago on my blog, but to recap:

The higher the butterfat percentage that a butter has, the more it will impact flavor and texture. There is a noticeable difference in taste and texture between a product baked with Breakstone butter (at 80% butterfat) and Vermont Creamery butter (specifically, their 82% butterfat butter, but they do have an 86% butterfat butter as well). The product made with Vermont Creamery butter will have a more delicious, butter-forward flavor, and it will have a noticeably more luxurious crumb.

Another key characteristic in butter is the whether the butter is sweet cream butter or cultured butter. Because–and I don’t mean to be dramatic here–this LITERALLY MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE. Sweet cream butter is churned right after milking, which produces a more mild, milky tasting butter. But cultured butter?

Y’all. Cultured butter is the IT girl of butters. It’s made when a producer adds good bacteria to fresh milk or cream, and then allows the cream to ferment for a day or two. Only after that fermentation period does the cream get churned into butter.

I’ve grown to favor cultured butter over sweet cream butter, because I love the buttermilk-y smell and taste that the culturing process creates. It’s like an extra hug from the butter and who wouldn’t want that?

When I find something I like, I test it over and over again to make sure that it fits with my personal taste and the flavor profiles that I want to build. My husband might call it an obsession, and he’d be right.

Until May of 2021, I used Kerrygold exclusively. Kerrygold is a well-known brand among bakers, and even though I’d tested it against other butters many times over the years, it had always come out on top.

Until May of 2021, that is. I’d heard good things here and there about Vermont Creamery butters and cheeses, so when I decided to do a butter test on my blog for Mother’s Day, I tried it and OH MY GOODNESS FAMILY it left every other butter I tested in the dust. I’d made hundreds of lemon pound cakes before that day in 2021, and the lemon pound cake with Vermont Creamery butter was the best lemon pound cake I’d ever made.

And it wasn’t just me! I did an 8-person blind taste test (did I mention obsessed?) and the Vermont Creamery cake sample won handily. Since then, I’ve come to use their butter exclusively, so when the opportunity came to partner with them, it was my best culinary dream come true.

About This Cake

When I was daydreaming about this cake, I wanted a coconut cake that featured an airy but decadent sponge. I wanted big coconut flavor in the cake-to include actual coconut-and I wanted it to look gorgeous when it was cut.

I wanted this cake to be a delicious attention hog, so I knew that it needed huge punches of flavor. To that end, I added a sweet/tart raspberry filling that compliments the coconut sponge and airy meringue beautifully.

And I knew that my Vermont Creamery butter would balance those big flavors and lend the perfect level of decadent texture to the sponge.

My friends at Vermont Creamery also sent some of their unbelievably decadent crème frâiche to use, and Friends, that crème frâiche was the ingredient that I didn’t know this cake needed. It contributed to such a luxurious, soft crumb to this cake that it ended up tasting like a dream.

I was so right to choose Vermont Creamery products for this cake. It is a true manifestation of my vision and I am so proud to have developed it.

Beginners Start Here

If you’re new to baking, or if your stand mixer is covered in dust, here are a couple of articles from the BwB site that will help you get off to a great start with this recipe!

These resources are never mandatory reading, but they are super useful to help you understand the techniques that you’ll need to successfully execute this amazing cake. Happy Reading!

Start With the Filling

Before I start the cake, I make the raspberry filling. The filling needs to be completely cooled before it’s added to the cake, or else it will leak out of the cake and that will be a sad day.

Once the raspberry filling is done, place it in a heat proof container. After it’s cooled, place in a refrigerator for at least four hours, or until it reaches a jam-like consistency.

Make the Cake With Me

As always, I start this cake by prepping my mise en place. Allow cold ingredients (butter, crème frâiche, egg whites, eggs, and coconut milk) to come to room temperature for at least an hour before starting.

Properly prepping sets me up for a confident, calm bake. Because this cake takes the better part of a day, setting up properly is a must.

Begin by warming your oven to a true 325°F. Use an oven thermometer to ensure that your oven gets to the proper temperature!

Start your batter by creaming butter and sugar until it light and fluffy. A properly creamed butter and sugar should have a cloud-like texture and be very light in color.

Next, add the egg whites, one at a time, until the mixture is completely combined. It’s important to remember to add eggs and egg whites one at a time, so that you ensure a cohesive cake batter!

Add your extracts and mix thoroughly. This is your last chance to mix to your heart’s content because flour is on deck!

Next, add half of the flour and mix until just combined:

Add all of the crème frâiche/coconut milk mixture and again mix until just combined:

Finally, add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just a few flour streaks remain.

Use your spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and give one good stir. This is a pretty thick batter, so don’t worry!

Split the batter into three prepared 8″ cake pans. Level the batter by using a spatula and then tapping the cake pan gently on the counter.

Bake at 325°F for 25-35 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when an instant-read thermometer reads 210°F or when a toothpick comes out clean. I highly recommend using an instant-read thermometer for the most accurate result.

Allow the cakes to cool completely and prepare the simple syrup. To make the simple syrup, add equal parts sugar and water to a sauce pan and boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool completely and then add to a small measuring cup or squeeze bottle.

Once the simple syrup and cakes are cooled, cut off the domes and place simple syrup atop the cut cakes. The simple syrup is a professional’s secret for avoiding dry cakes!

Onto finishing touches!

The Finish

This layer cake looks difficult, but it is one of the easiest to build. First, make the meringue:

A couple of tips about meringue:

  • Use a metal mixing bowl to make your meringue, and make sure it is squeaky clean. If there are any traces of dirt or fat on your mixing bowl then your meringue won’t form.
  • Use real egg whites. The pasteurized whites in a carton won’t work as well. Yes, it can be a pain to separate all of those eggs, but I just think about how lucky I am that I don’t have to do it all day in a pastry kitchen. I take my time, turn on some music, and by the second song the task is done.
  • Also about egg whites: when separating egg whites, I use three bowls. One for the yolks, one for the egg white that I’m working on, and my mixing bowl. That way, if I have one egg that doesn’t separate properly and I end up getting the yolk in with the egg white, I haven’t ruined the whole batch of egg whites.
  • To check whether the sugar is completely dissolved, I rub some of the egg white mixture between my thumb and forefinger. If I feel any sugar granules whatsoever, I keep stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Here’s a video tutorial for how I finish this cake and get amazing results!

Here’s how I do it!

Y’all. I had an incredibly fun time developing this cake from start to finish. The unbelievable quality of the Vermont Creamery products that I used made this cake really come to life, and I’m so proud to partner with them. I hope you love this cake as much as I do! Don’t forget to tag @beginwithbutter and @vermontcreamery on Instagram when you make it, so that we can see your amazing results!

Enjoy the recipe!

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THE Easter Coconut Cake


  • Author: Shani
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 25-35 minutes
  • Total Time: ~5 hours (with cooling time)
  • Yield: 18 servings 1x

Description

This decadent, airy coconut cake is perfect for any table.  Filled with a decadent raspberry sauce, this coconut cake is a worthy dessert for holidays, birthdays, and special Sunday dinners.


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Cake:

  • 320 g (2.5 c) cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 95 g (1 cup) shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 230 g (1 c) butter
  • 350 g granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tsp coconut extract
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 227 g crème fraîche
  • 63 g coconut milk

For the Raspberry Filling:

  • 340 g fresh raspberries
  • 350 g sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Creme de Cassis or Chambord (optional)
  • 1.5 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1.5 tbsp water

For the Simple Syrup:

  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 125 g water

For the Meringue:

  • 10 egg whites
  • 600 g granulated sugar

Instructions

Before the Batter:

  1. Prepare the raspberry filling at least four hours in advance.  It needs time to firm up in the refrigerator so that it won’t run out of the sides of your cake.
  2. Wash raspberries and remove any that are rotten.
  3. Add raspberries, sugar and salt to a small saucepan.  Stir to coat raspberries.
  4. Heat raspberry mixture over medium low heat, taking care not to boil the raspberries. 
  5. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, add the Creme de Cassis (if using).  Simmer on medium low heat until the raspberries themselves have liquefied. (~10 minutes)
  6. In a small bowl, combine the cold water and cornstarch.  Add the cornstarch mixture to the raspberry mixture and bring to a low boil for 30-45 seconds.
  7. Once the raspberry sauce coats the back of a spoon, it is done.  Strain sauce into a medium bowl with a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds.
  8. Allow to cool completely on the countertop and then refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

To Make the Batter with a Stand Mixer:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.  It’s highly recommended to use an oven thermometer for this recipe, since proper oven temperature will impact the outcome of your cake.
  2. Take out three 8″ round cake pans.  Cut parchment circles for each cake pan and set aside.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. 
  4. Sift the flour mixture into another medium bowl.  Using your fingers, crumble the shredded coconut into the flour mixture.  Whisk to combine and set aside.
  5. Combine the creme frâiche and coconut milk in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.
  6. Place the room temperature butter in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Mix on low speed until smooth.  (30 seconds)
  7. Slowly add the granulated sugar and mix on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.  (5-10 minutes)
  8. Add egg whites, one at a time, mixing for at least 45 seconds after each addition.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.  The mixture will look very airy at this point. (2 minutes)
  9. Add the whole eggs one at a time, mixing for at least 45 seconds after each addition.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.  (4 minutes)
  10. Add vanilla extract and coconut extract and mix until thoroughly combined.  (1 minute)
  11. Add half of the flour/shredded coconut mixture and mix on low speed until combined.  (30-45 seconds)
  12. With the mixer on low speed, add all of the creme frâiche/coconut milk mixture and mix on low speed until combined.  (~1 minute). 
  13. Add the second half of the flour/shredded coconut mixture and mix on low speed until combined.  (~1 minute)
  14. Using a rubber spatula, fully scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Then, stir the batter until it is smooth and consistent.  Make sure to fully scrape the bottom of the bowl during this step!  This is a thicker cake batter so don’t worry!
  15. Prepare the three 8” cake pans for baking (I use butter and flour, but baking sprays work as well).  Place parchment round at the bottom of each cake pan to help prevent sticking.
  16. Fill cake pans evenly.  I use a digital kitchen scale, and my cake pans each hold roughly 500 g of cake batter. 
  17. Level out the cake batter with a spatula.  Tap the cake pans on the countertop to help prevent large bubbles in your cakes.

To Make the Batter with a Hand Mixer:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.  It’s highly recommended to use an oven thermometer for this recipe, since proper oven temperature will impact the outcome of your cake.
  2. Take out three 8″ round cake pans.  Cut parchment circles for each cake pan and set aside.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. 
  4. Sift the flour mixture into another medium bowl.  Using your fingers, crumble the shredded coconut into the flour mixture.  Whisk to combine and set aside.
  5. Combine the creme frâiche and coconut milk in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.
  6. Place the room temperature butter in a large mixing bowl.  Mix on low speed until smooth.  (30-45 seconds)
  7. Slowly add the granulated sugar in two additions and mix on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.  (7-12 minutes)
  8. Add egg whites, one at a time, mixing for at least 45 seconds after each addition.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.  The mixture will look very airy at this point. (~2 minutes)
  9. Add the whole eggs one at a time, mixing for at least 45-60 seconds after each addition.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.   (4 minutes)
  10. Add vanilla extract and coconut extract and mix until thoroughly combined.  (1 minute)
  11. Add half of the flour/shredded coconut mixture and mix on low speed until combined.  (30-45 seconds)
  12. With the mixer on low speed, add all of the creme frâiche/coconut milk mixture and mix on low speed until combined.  (~1 minute). 
  13. Add the second half of the flour/shredded coconut mixture and mix on low speed until combined.  (~1 minute)
  14. Using a rubber spatula, fully scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.  Then, stir the batter until it is smooth and consistent.  Make sure to fully scrape the bottom of the bowl during this step!  This is a thicker cake batter so don’t worry!
  15. Prepare the three 8” cake pans for baking (I use butter and flour, but baking sprays work as well).  Place parchment round at the bottom of each cake pan to help prevent sticking.
  16. Fill cake pans evenly.  I use a digital kitchen scale, and my cake pans each hold roughly 500 g of cake batter. 
  17. Level out the cake batter with a spatula.  Tap the cake pans on the countertop to help prevent large bubbles in your cakes.

To Bake the Cake:

  1. Bake the cake at a true 325°F for 25–35 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads 210°F.  It is important to not overbake this cake.
  2. Allow the cake to rest for five minutes, and then turn out on a cooling rack to cool completely.

To Make the Simple Syrup:

  1. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  
  2. Stir occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Remove the simple syrup from the heat and allow to cool completely.
  4. Place the simple syrup in a small bowl or squeeze bottle.

To Make the Meringue:

  1. Bring 3” of water to a low boil in a large (3 qt.) sauce pan.  Reduce to a simmer.
  2. Carefully separate 10 eggs, placing the egg whites in a clean, nonreactive metal bowl (either a stand mixer or large stainless steel bowl).  Add sugar and whisk to combine.
  3. Place metal bowl over the top of the sauce pan while the water is simmering.  Whisk the egg white mixture over the sauce pan until all of the sugar is completely dissolved.  (~3 minutes)
  4. Remove the metal bowl from the stove.  Using the whisk attachment on either your hand mixer or your stand mixer, whisk the mixture on lowest speed until it is nearly opaque.  (~1-2 minutes)
  5. Increase the mixer to medium speed until the mixture begins to look light and fluffy.  (~4 minutes for stand mixer; ~5-6 minutes for hand mixer)
  6. Increase the mixer to highest speed until the meringue is done.  To check the meringue, remove the whisk attachment from the mixture and invert it.  If the meringue slowly folds down over the whisk attachment, it’s complete. (~2 minutes for stand mixer; ~3 minutes for hand mixer)

To Build the Cake:

  1. Place a 10” cake round on a turntable or a cake stand.
  2. Place a dollop of meringue on the round to secure the bottom cake.
  3. The cakes will be slightly domed from baking.  Gently cut off the domes to make them level.
  4. Once you’ve sliced off the top of the cakes, use either a spoon or a squirt bottle to add simple syrup to the cut layers.
  5. Pipe a thick dam of meringue around the edge of the layers.  Spoon 4-5 tablespoons of raspberry filling in the center and spread to the edges of the dam.
  6. Place the second layer on top of the first layer.  Repeat the meringue dam and the raspberry filling.
  7. Invert the final layer (so that the cut side is facing down) and place on top of the other two layers.  Press down gently and double check to make sure the cake is level.
  8. Using an offset spatula, quickly spread the meringue over the cooled cake. Using clean fingers, pull or swirl the meringue. If desired, use a butane torch to toast the meringue. 

Notes

  • This cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.  Allow to warm on the counter for 30-45 minutes before cutting.
  • Category: Dessert

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 565
  • Sugar: 76.4 g
  • Sodium: 208.5 mg
  • Fat: 19.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 93.3 g
  • Protein: 6.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 86.8 mg

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Blueberry Cardamom Sauce

Family, when I’m developing a recipe, I often close my eyes…

I consider what crumb I want a particular cake to have. I consider the flavors I’m trying to achieve in a simple syrup. I consider the texture of the buttercream or finishing glaze. I consider the experience, or the color, or the smell I’m trying to recreate in a sauce.

I consider so many little details that I frequently get lost in the inspiration. And I love it. That process feeds my creativity in ways that I could never fully describe in words.

But lately, I’ve gotten away from the process that I’ve loved so much. I became much too focused on hitting targets and producing as much content as possible that I started to feel a bit…lost.

A Little Sidebar

In the last two months, my life changed dramatically. I am proud to be a full-time entrepreneur and to have the opportunity of a lifetime with Begin with Butter. Full-time entrepreneurship led me down a path of always always always working. I felt like I was losing myself. And a person that I’ll call the Leftover Litigator showed up.

Let me explain the Leftover Litigator. For the decade and a half before I started full-time entrepreneurship, my productive professional pursuits involved living and dying by litigation deadlines. Motions. Briefs. Oral arguments. Evidentiary hearings. Arbitrations. Replies to Motions. Sur-Replies to Motions. Responses to thirty-day nasty-gram letters. Expedited responses to ten-day super nasty-gram letters. I still have physical symptoms of anxiety when I think about that life.

Family, that kind of professional pressure doesn’t leave your psyche right away. And when I took the leap into full-time entrepreneurship in January of this year (2022), the Leftover Litigator was right there in my ear, telling me to push push push because deadline deadline deadline. So, more out of habit than anything else, I set impossibly ambitious goals for 2022 and told myself that I had to hit every target to have a good year and justify my existence in this entrepreneur space.

It was not at all how I wanted to start my entrepreneurship journey. I am no stranger to hard work, and don’t get me wrong, I still intend to work harder at entrepreneurship than any other professional endeavor. I honestly still intend to hit all of my now-adjusted goals.

BUT

The Leftover Litigator had to go. My mind had to settle. And this sauce was the perfect exercise in patience to show me that you cannot rush what is truly meant to take time.

It took a couple of rock-solid conversations with my dear, dear friends Artney at My Pretty Brown Fit + Eats and Patrice at Total Tax Experience this week to help me actually see what was happening so that I could correct course. I am beyond grateful for their friendship, and their ability to accept my vulnerability with such open arms. I am so blessed to call Artney and Patrice and a small group of women my good friends. I just love them so much.

During our conversation, Patrice, my friend for over a decade (and also my incredibly patient tax professional), said something that she always says to me: “You have to slow down to speed up.”

And that, Friends, is how this Blueberry Cardamom Sauce came to be.

About this Blueberry Cardamom Sauce

This sauce contains a few simple ingredients, and it can be used in a multitude of ways. More important than any ingredient, however, is time.

This isn’t a five-minute sauce and I like it that way. If you give this sauce the time it needs, you will be rewarded mightily.

How to Make It (With Video Tutorial!)

To start, you’ll need 300 grams of blueberries, 150 grams of granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon of cardamom, and a pinch (1/8 tsp) of salt. Add all of them to a small saucepan, stir to cover the blueberries with the sugar mixture, and turn it on over medium low heat.

Then leave it alone until you see bubbles around the edges of the saucepan. Don’t leave the stove unattended for more than a few minutes at a time, because you don’t want the sugar to burn.

Also, don’t turn up the heat to more than medium (and if you turn it up to medium, don’t walk away from the stove). The sugar can bubble over the top of your saucepan and cause a MESS.

Medium low. This sauce won’t be rushed. And it won’t taste the same if it is rushed.

The directions are very easy. Cook over medium-low heat for 35-40 minutes over medium low, stirring occasionally.

Once the mixture begins to thicken on its own (at about 35 or 40 minutes), add the tablespoon of orange liqueur (or water) to the tablespoon of cornstarch. Stir to combine. Add the cornstarch slurry to the blueberry mixture and stir.

Turn the heat up to medium (or whatever heat gets your mixture to a very low boil) and allow to boil under your most watchful eye for one minute.

Reduce the temperature back to medium low and allow to simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. By this point the blueberry sauce will be scrumptiously thick.

Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to sit for about ten minutes. Carefully pour the blueberry sauce into a heat proof container and allow it to cool completely before refrigerating.

How to Use This Sauce

This sauce can be used in any number of ways. Need more decadence on My Favorite Buttermilk* Pancakes? A dollop of two goes a very long way. Want a perfect sauce for my Lavender Vanilla Pound Cake? Add a spoonful to each slice and watch your guests’ anticipation grow by the second.

It’s the full experience of this sauce that makes it so spectacular: the rich texture, the sweetly tamed spice of the cardamom, and the almost-unintelligible hint of orange from the Triple Sec.

And the secret ingredient is just…time.

This Blueberry Cardamom Sauce brought me back to center, and I will always have a very special relationship with it for that reason. I hope you all try it and I hope you all love it as much as I loved making it.

Here’s the recipe!

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Blueberry Cardamom Sauce


  • Author: Shani

Description

This wonderfully luscious and versatile sauce is a slow-food superstar.  Use it to add an additional special touch pancakes, pies, ice cream or cakes!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 330 g (1 dry pint) blueberries, cleaned (frozen works fine)
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tbsp cold water or orange liqueur (I used Triple Sec)
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch

Instructions

  1. Clean and de-stem the blueberries.
  2. Add blueberries, sugar, cardamom, and salt to a medium saucepan.
  3. Heat the mixture over medium-low heat for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 5-7 minutes to avoid burning.  If the mixture starts to bubble up, turn it down slightly.  This mixture should simmer gently.  It shouldn’t boil.
  4. When the sugar first melts, the mixture will be very watery.  The mixture will remain watery for the first 30-35 minutes of cook time.
  5. Once the mixture begins to thicken, combine the water/orange liqueur and cornstarch, and stir until fully combined.
  6. Add the cornstarch slurry to the blueberry mixture.  Stir to combine.
  7. Bring the blueberry sauce to a boil for one minute.  Stir as necessary to prevent mixture from boiling over.
  8. Simmer for 2-3 additional minutes, then remove the blueberry sauce from the heat.
  9. After ten minutes put the blueberry sauce in a heat proof container.  Refrigerate sauce once it is completely cooled.

Notes

  1. The success of this recipe depends largely on the quality of the blueberries that you use.  If blueberries are out of season in your area, then I recommend using frozen blueberries.  They work beautifully in this recipe because they’re picked at the peak of the season and frozen immediately.
  2. Don’t cook this mixture too high!  Time is the secret ingredient.

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