My baby brother's birthday was a couple weeks ago. Only he's not a baby anymore, he's 16 years old! It's amazing how fast they grow up. I was looking at wedding photos the other day while cleaning out the guest room (preparing it for the nursery) and I saw this little boy who was my ring bearer. A sweet boy who was no more than 4 feet tall and now he's my height. His birthday fell on a weekday, but that didn't stop him from getting his birthday wish. He wanted all of his family to get together and have dinner together at The Olive Garden. And so we made it happen. I brought the cake.
I wasn't really planning on baking him a cake, but I had plenty of time that day to make it so I started texting my mom, asking what he'd like. I had several elaborate cakes in my head, some with tunnels of cheesecake running through it, others covered in a silky ganache. My mom said he mentioned something about a pineapple upside down cake a few days prior, I could do that. But then she said she'd just pick up a cake at the grocery store so I didn't have to bake anything. Um, no. Not gonna happen! So I text my brother while at school and asked him what his dream cake would be like. His response was not what I was expecting. It was only one word: vanilla.
It just so happens I made a vanilla bean cake for my old boss' mother about a week prior, only she wanted peaches in it, so I made it into a Peach Upside Down Cake. It looked and smelled great, the batter tasted amazing, but I didn't get a chance to taste the final product. I licked a beater, gave another to Mr. h and vowed to make that cake again. I just didn't think it would be so soon after the other. If I was going to make a vanilla cake, I wanted it to be loaded with vanilla flavor. The cake and glaze contains both vanilla extract as well as vanilla beans, speckled throughout. It is positively vanilla!
Mr. H is a huge chocolate fan and will pass up almost anything vanilla, but even he liked this cake. It was wonderfully aromatic and tasty to boot. It had a light, tender and moist crumb which I was thrilled about, because it seems so many "yellow" or butter cakes turn out dense or dry. I wanted a slightly larger cake so I increased the recipe by one and a half times and baked it in my 15 cup Anniversary Bundt. The birthday boy was pleased with his cake and even more thrilled that his family got together to celebrate his birthday. That just tells you the kind of young man that he is growing into, to wish for something like that. That's why I love him so much. Happy birthday Aaron!
Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake adapted from Bon Appetit
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- 1 teaspoon bourbon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks), room temperature
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons (or more) whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
For the cake: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Butter and flour a standard Bundt pan, then spray pan with nonstick spray. Pour bourbon and vanilla extract into small bowl. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into bourbon-vanilla mixture; stir to blend well (reserve scraped vanilla bean for another use). (If you don't have or want to use bourbon, just substitute with vanilla extract).
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend.
Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and egg yolk 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in bourbon-vanilla mixture.
Add flour mixture in 2 additions alternately with buttermilk in 1 addition, beating just until blended after each addition. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top evenly (batter will come only halfway up sides of pan).
Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.
For the glaze: Whisk powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons milk, and vanilla in small bowl to blend, adding more milk by 1/4 teaspoonfuls if glaze is too thick to drizzle. If glaze is too thin, add a little more sugar until it's the consistency desired. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the glaze and whisk until the seeds are incorporated throughout the glaze.
Place cooled cake on serving dish. Using spoon, drizzle glaze over cake in zigzag pattern. Let cake stand at room temperature until glaze sets, about 15 minutes.
NOTE: Cake can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and let stand at room temperature.
P.S. My fabulous friend gifted me with a new logo for my blog. I'll tell you all about it in the next post.
I hope everyone has a safe Memorial Day Weekend!