Vanilla Buttercream Ruffle Cake Recipe

Vanilla Buttercream Ruffle Cake Recipe Recipe

Hi everyone! This is Sunny, Jackie’s oldest and coolest sister-in-law, and today I’m guest-posting on Pham Fatale!

So about two weeks ago I was procrastinating on Pinterest when I came across this picture:

It’s a cake by Martha Stewart. You could say it was love at first sight—one look at those adorable pink ruffles and I knew I had to make this cake. 

Only one problem; although I love to bake, I’ve never made a cake in my life. Cookies, cookie pies, brownies, blondies, but definitely nothing as glitzy as this three-layered Swiss meringue buttercream ruffled cake. But I was absolutely determined to make it, and I think it turned out pretty well. If an 18-year-old novice confectioner can make this cake, you absolutely can too. 

Instead of making a lemon cake like the one in Martha Stewart’s recipe, I decided to keep it simple with a vanilla cake and vanilla frosting. The cake batter was pretty straightforward; I like this particular recipe because the cake is the perfect balance between dense and airy. The Swiss meringue buttercream, daunting as it sounds, was also easy to make, although I would pay attention to a few helpful tips when making it. 

The real fun came when it was time to frost the cake. After frosting and crumb coating the cake, I refrigerated it overnight to let it set. For the ruffles, I used a Wilton #124 piping tip, although many other petal tips would also work. It was a matter of watching several YouTube videos and practicing a bit on the side of my mixing bowl, but I definitely got the hang of it after a few ruffles. Two of my sisters also had a go, and we had a lot of fun. I decided not to ruffle all the way into the middle and instead filled the center with some whipped cream. The finished cake wasn’t perfect, but the ruffles are very forgiving. And so cute!

Vanilla Buttercream Recipe with Picture

Sunny, our very talented teen baker.


Yields: 10 servings

4 eggs, at room temperature
3½ cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
20 egg whites (see tips)
6⅛ cups granulated sugar, for frosting
8 sticks (up to 10 sticks) unsalted butter (cubed), near room temperature but still cool
2½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract, for frosting
2 whole vanilla beans
⅛ teaspoon soft deep pink gel paste food coloring (see tips), even less!


Source: Rosie from Sweetapolita

For the cake sheets:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Lightly grease 3 (9" round) cake pans with butter and dust with a little flour. Remove any excess flour. Line with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt.

Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites into different mixing bowls. 

In a large mixing bowl, cream 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) of butter with 1½ cups sugar until fluffy. Add one egg yolk at a time (4 egg yolks total). Whisk well. Add vanilla extract. Alternately add the dry ingredients and milk until the batter is formed, ending with the flour. Mix until smooth. 

In a clean mixing bowl, whisk 4 egg whites for about 2 minutes at a low speed. Add cream of tartar. Increase the speed of your mixer and keep beating for another 2-3 minutes until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. Don't over-beat or the texture will become grainy.

Pour the cake batter equally into the 3 molds. Even them out using a spreader or by lifting the molds and gently  dropping them on the counter several times.

Bake the cakes for 10 minutes at 350°F, then lower the temperature to 325°F and bake for another 20 minutes (Time will vary depending on the size of the pan).  The texture of the cake should be very soft and moist. A skewer or a toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean.  Let stand for 10 minutes.

Unmold the cakes onto cooling racks and let cool to room temperature.

For the vanilla: Using a paring knife, scrape and gather all the grains of the vanilla bean (see tips).

For the vanilla buttercream frosting: 

Place the 20 egg whites in a stainless-steel mixing bowl. Using an electric handheld mixer, whisk until you get soft peaks. Make a "double boiler" (a pot filled with hot water, covered with a piece of cloth) and place the bowl filled with whisked eggs on top. Adding sugar incrementally, whisk until the mixture thickens and 6⅛ cups sugar is well incorporated (don't over-mix or it will become grainy). Check the temperature of the eggs; they should feel warm to the touch. Remove from the double boiler, add the vanilla extract and vanilla beans. Continue whisking at full speed for 5-10 minutes. The egg whites should stick right up and be thick and shiny. 

In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, add the butter a few cubes at a time (about 8 sticks total), whisking continuously, until it starts to thicken into a frosting and you like the way it tastes. The texture should be smooth and creamy.

Note: The reason Sunny said 8­ (up to 10 sticks and not a specific amount) is because she doesn't like the frosting too buttery. 

Vanilla Cake Recipe with Picture


Make sure the cakes have cooled completely. Place them in the freezer them for 30 minutes.

Place one sheet of cake onto a cake stand, placing 2 rectangles of parchment paper beneath the cake (for easy release later).

Cover the cake with a thick layer of the buttercream and smooth it out using a spreader; this acts as the 'glue' when you place the second sheet of cake on top. Repeat the same procedure with the last layer on upside down so it will be flat on top. 

Cover the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of buttercream frosting (not too thick). Level with a spatula. Refrigerate from 20 minutes to let it set. 

Pipe the remaining buttercream, creating pretty ruffles around the edges and the top of the cake.

Note: Sunny left an inset medallion on the top to decorate with an edible "PhamFatale" logo (she used regular sweetened whipped cream for the white inset underneath). 

Let harden in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

Bon appétit!


After scraping the grains of vanilla, don't discard the remaining vanilla bean. Just place it in a jar and cover it with regular granulated sugar. Let it sit for a few weeks and you'll have nice, fragrant vanilla sugar. You could also use it to flavor any dairy products by boiling milk or cream with the vanilla bean for making drinks or custard.

Sunny used soft gel paste food coloring (can be found at Whole Foods). You could use liquid food coloring or find food coloring powder in most Indian markets.

She used egg whites from Costco.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on March 7, 2014.


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