Secret’s out: we’ve been enjoying King Cake every which way from Sunday for the last two months. The presence and intensity of the King Cakes in New Orleans has ramped up as we near the end of February, the end of carnival season, and the very biggest day of the year: Fat Tuesday. King cake – every day.
I say that to say, I’ve eaten my weight in King Cake doughnuts, fancy Galette de Rois, grocery store King Cakes, King Cake any and every way and surely by the time Ash Wednesday rolls around next week I will fully welcome a plate full of broccoli.
Until then though, prepare your hearts for this dream variation of a King Cake: layered, cinnamon-swirled, soft buttermilk cake, with a delightfully rich cream cheese frosting. If you’re not here in New Orleans with us, you sure can cake like you are!
This post is sponsored by the Oster® brand. The Oster® Hand Mixer with HEATSOFT Technology blows a gentle warm air as it mixes. It’s pretty great! The HEATSOFT Technology helps soften cold butter and other ingredients at the same time as it mixes the cake batter together!
Temperature is a big part of baking and if butter isn’t softened properly, our cake can bake up heavy and dense. The Oster Hand Mixer with HEATSOFT Technology takes some of the stress out of baking. If we forget our butter in the fridge, this mixer does the work of softening the butter while incorporating ingredients – it softens butter 12 times faster than leaving butter out on the counter for 30 minutes. Great right!? The result is a light and fluffy buttermilk cake thanks to this new technology!
We’ll start by creaming together granulated sugar and unsalted butter. Measure sugar into a large bowl.
Cut the chilled butter into medium cubes and add to the sugar. Start the mixer on low to begin to break up the butter chunks.
Turn on the HEATSOFT Technology, which will blow a gentle heat to help soften the butter as it creams together with the sugar.
Using HEATSOFT, well creamed butter and sugar will only take approximately 2-3 mins to come together in the bowl (which is much faster than a regular mixer, where the typical process might take 5-7mins). The butter will warm and aerate as it’s incorporated with the sugar. The mixture will lighten in color to the sweetest yellow and feel fluffy in texture. It’s the first step to a light and delicious cake!
Separate two egg whites from the egg yolks. We’ll add the yolks to the butter and sugar mixture and reserve the whites to beat to peaks before folding into the batter.
The yolks will add a richness and a light golden color to the cake.
Vanilla extract to add a depth of flavor to the cake batter – beat in just after fully incorporating the egg yolks.
The creamed butter and sugar aside, it’s time to incorporate the dry ingredients along with the buttermilk.
Whisk together cake flour (here’s how to make it yourself if you don’t have some already in your pantry), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Simple!
Add half of the dry ingredients to the creamed butter and beat on low speed until just incorporated, about 2 minutes.
Slowly stream the buttermilk into the batter, beating on low speed to incorporate.
Once all the buttermilk feels incorporated, the batter will be loose. Add the remaining flour and mix into a thick, smooth batter.
We’re not done with the batter!
We’ll lighten the batter with egg whites! Add three more egg whites to the two we separated from our yolks in the batter.
Beat the egg whites to medium peaks. If your egg whites are still cold from the refrigerator, the Oster Hand Mixer’s HEATSOFT Technology will help quickly lighten and fluff the whites to peaks.
Essentially, we’re adding air to the egg whites, and we’re trying to keep that air as we add the egg whites to the cake batter in three batches.
Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
The first third will deflate slightly as it’s incorporated into the thick batter, but the remaining two additions of egg whites will do so much to lighten and soften the cake.
We’ve gone from thick batter to deliciously pourable batter!
The 8-inch cake pans are greased with butter, lined with parchment paper rounds (don’t skip this step, it’s great insurance that the baked cake will make it out of the pan!), greased once again and floured.
After all the work we’ve put into this beautiful batter – we want to make sure the rounds make it out of the pan and onto the cooling rack.
Whisk together butter, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt into a smooth and bubbling easy caramel.
And drizzle that simple caramel onto each cake layer.
Use a butter knife to gently swirl the caramel into the batter.
Bake to golden brown and allow the warm cakes to rest in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto wire racks to cool completely.
Cream cheese frosting is the perfect complement to this cinnamon swirl cake as cream cheese frosting is the perfect complement to nearly any dessert.
The trick to cream cheese frosting is very well softened cream cheese.
Beat the cream cheese in a bowl before adding the softened butter. Smoothing the cream cheese (especially with Oster’s HEATSOFT Technology) will help stave off any lumps before adding the butter.
Add the softened butter, powdered sugar, a dash of vanilla, and a splash of heavy cream.
Beat until fluffy, smooth, and super luscious.
I like to decorate this cake simple, by spreading cream cheese frosting between layers and dotting the same frosting around the edges using a pastry bag and a simple round tip (I used Wilton round 11).
I start by layering a single layer, top side up on a cardboard cake round. You could also use a flat plate – that’s perfectly fine too.
Spread the first cake layer with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting. Dot cream cheese frosting around the edges and gently place the second cake layer atop the first.
Repeat. Spread the second layer of cake with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting. Again dot the edges and layer on the third cake layer.
Spread a final layer of cream cheese frosting across the top of the cake. Feel free to be generous.
Dot the edges, adding a few layers of dots across the top of the cake for decoration. Keep it simple or go nuts. There’s no wrong way to work this King Cake variation.
Sprinkle with iconic purple, green, and yellow sprinkles.
Do you have a little baby on hand? We need a baby, too.
Purple for justice. Green for faith. Yellow Gold for power – and the baby to symbolize luck and prosperity.
Sliced generously, cinnamon swirled, tender buttermilk cake, with irresistibly rich cream cheese frosting layers is amazing.
Thanks to the Oster brand for inspiring the recipe and for their Hand Mixer with HEATSOFT Technology for making this cake so easy and enjoyable to bring together!
Photos by James Collier.
- 2 3/4 cups cake flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature or cold using the Oster® Hand Mixer with HEATSOFT Technology
- 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks, whites reserved for below
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 5 large egg whites, two from above and three additional whites
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1 (8 ounce) block of cream cheese, well softened
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, well softened
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- To make the cake, place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 8-inch round baking pans. (If you don't have 8-inch rounds, use two 9-inch round cake pans.) Cut three rounds of parchment paper to fit the bottom of each cake pan. Place the paper in the greased cake pan, grease the paper, and flour the pans. It's a lot of work but it will ensure the cake comes out of the pan easily. Set the cake pans aside.
- In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl measure sugar and butter. If the butter is still cold, cut it into cubes and cream the butter with the sugar using the Oster® Hand Mixer with HEATSOFT Technology. Cream until butter and sugar are a pale yellow color, aerated and fluffy, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Beat in the egg yolks until well combined, about 1 minutes.
- Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Add half of the flour mixture and beat with the hand mixer until just combined.
- On low speed, stream in the buttermilk until just combined.
- Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until well combined and smooth.
- In a separate medium bowl place two reserved egg whites and add three additional egg whites. Beat of medium high speed until the egg whites are frothy, fluffed and hold medium peaks.
- Add the beaten egg whites to the cake batter in three batches. Fold the first third of egg whites into the batter, mixing thoroughly but trying to keep the whites as aerated as possible.
- Mix in the egg whites in two more batches, folding until well combined and the batter is aerated and pourable.
- Divide the batter between the three prepared pans.
- To make the cinnamon swirl, stir together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until glossy and well combined.
- Drizzle the cinnamon mixture across each pan of cake batter and use a butter knife to gently swirl the two together.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs, not wet cake batter. Remove the pans from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before inverting the cakes onto wire racks to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, beat together softened cream cheese until pliable. Add the butter, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, and heavy cream and beat until smooth. Add a dash more cream or a spoonful more powdered sugar to adjust consistency as you may need.
- To assemble the cake, place a completely cooled cake layer, top side up, on a cake cardboard or a flat plate. Spread with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting. Scoop about a third of cream cheese frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a large round piping tip. Dollop rounds around the edges of the cake layer.
- Place the second cake layer atop the first and spread with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting. Again dot the edges of the cake with cream cheese frosting from the piping bag.
- Place the third cake layer atop the second and spread with a final layer of cream cheese frosting. Dot the top of the cake with cream cheese frosting in whatever decoration feels clever to you.
- Sprinkle with purple, green, and yellow sprinkles. Add a little plastic baby and refrigerate the cake for at least 2 hours before serving. Enjoy in generous slices with hot coffee. The cake will last, well wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.