Sometimes I just like to wander around a store. I don't necessarily need anything but I just like to wander. One of those times, I was wandering through the Wilton section at Michaels and I found this checkerboard cake pan set. I've seen pictures of these cakes a few times but hadn't ever really thought about how they were made. With my coupon, it was an $8 investment.
While the mix of yellow and chocolate cake the directions suggest was cute, I already knew it would make a perfect cake for Easter, filled with pastel colored cake batter. I also think it would make an adorable baby shower cake for a mom-to-be who didn't want to find out the sex of the baby. Alternate pink and blue and it would be perfect. It would make a great rainbow cake for a child's birthday party. By this point I definitely had enough ideas to justify my purchase. Since I'm way over my limit on kitchen stuff, I have to rationalize purchases that seem to be "uni-taskers" so I don't waste more space and money.
For the cake batter, I used the Old Fashioned White Cake recipe from my Magnolia Bakery cookbook. The recipe comes together very easily. This recipe is definitely a good go-to cake for a traditional vanilla cake. It's light and I think it would easily adapt based on the extracts used or if you added a little citrus zest. I doubled the recipe in the book to make a 3 layer cake and an extra layer for a second set of Easter cake pops. For the filling, I made a lemon buttercream and then frosted the cake with a simple whipped cream frosting.
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
4 cups self-rising flour
2 cups milk (I used 1 3/4 cups skim milk with 1/4 cup heavy cream)
4 tsp vanilla extract
8 egg whites
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 4 9" baking pans baking spray and line the bottoms with parchment rounds.
Cream the butter on medium high speed until smooth. Add the sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Combine milk and vanilla in a measuring cup. Add flour in 3 parts, alternating with the milk, beating well after each addition, beginning and ending with flour. Set batter aside.
Add egg whites to a clean mixing bowl and begin beating on low speed, gradually increasing speed to high as egg whites thicken. Beat until the egg whites make soft peaks. Gently fold into cake batter, 1/3 at a time.
Divide batter into 4 equal parts. Add 3 different colors of gel food coloring to 3 bowls (if you want to make it a 4 layer cake, just divide it into 3 parts). Bake the 4th layer as desired.
Using the ring divider in the kit, fill each ring half full with a different color. Remove the ring divider, rinse and dry and set in the next pan. Make sure to alternate the order of the colors in each ring. Bake 22-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pans for about 5 minutes, loosen the edges with a knife if necessary, and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Lemon Buttercream Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
Zest of 1 lemon
2-3 T lemon juice
4 cups powdered sugar
Beat butter on medium high speed for about 2 minutes until smooth. Add lemon zest and lemon juice and beat about 1 more minute. Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating on low speed until incorporated. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth and thick.
Level each layer of cake and top with 1/2 of the filling. Smooth with an offset spatula leaving about 1/2" border around the outside. Add next layer, making sure to arrange the colors to make the checkerboard pattern. Add and smooth remaining filling and top with final layer. Transfer cake to the freezer for about 15 minutes while you make the frosting.
2 cups heavy cream
3 T sugar
Chill mixer bowl for about 5 minutes in the freezer. Add heavy cream and beat with whisk attachment on low speed, increasing to high speed as cream thickens. Gradually add sugar with mixer running. Beat until cream is thick. Frost cake by adding generous amount of frosting to the top, smooth the top and out to the sides. Use remaining frosting to frost the sides of the cake. Chill until ready to serve.