Turn dream cake into a delicious reality

By Scott Greenberg

I can’t get the cakes I make to look like the ones in my head.

In there, there’s no effort. I sweep my hands across the counter a couple of times like a weird little frosting magician and there’s a cake. As soon as I try to make a cake in real life, it all goes wrong. The point is, in my head it looks perfect, and in real life it looks bad. I’m sick of the disparity between the two, so I’m going to teach you how to make them look and taste one in the same.

Here’s what you need:


– 6 egg whites (room temperature)

– 3/4 cup low fat milk (room temperature)

– 1/4 cup heavy cream (room temperature)

– 2 1/4 cups cake flour

– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

– 1 3/4 cups sugar

– 4 teaspoons baking powder

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes (try to get them about halfway between refrigerated and room temperature. Just make sure they’re not melting all over your counter top)


– 4 cups powdered sugar

– 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

– 1/4 cup and 1 teaspoon heavy cream

– 2 tablespoons and 1/2 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice


– 3 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced thin

Here’s how you do it:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put the milk, egg whites and vanilla extract in a bowl and mix with a fork. We’re not trying to make a meringue here, so don’t go foaming it up like it’s a bubble bath. Use the whisk attachment on your stand mixer to slowly whisk together the dry stuff: flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter in with the dry stuff and beat on low with a paddle attachment for a couple minutes until combined. Again, don’t beat the crap out of it.

Set aside a 1/2 cup of the wet stuff, then pour the rest into the stand mixer and mix with the dry ingredients for a minute and a half on medium. Add the rest and mix for another minute.

Spray two cake pans with non-stick and line them with parchment, then spray the parchment too and pour in the cake batter. Yes, it’s a lot of spraying, but it’s worth it not to have to scrape cake chunks out of the pan and try to reassemble them like a fat, disgusting version of a Disney sitcom.

Stick them in the oven for about 25 minutes and give them the toothpick to check if they’re ready. If not, bake for five-minute intervals until the cakes are good to go. Let the cakes cool for five minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and let them cool to room temperature. Once they’re cool, wrap them with plastic wrap and stick them in the fridge while you do the frosting. That will make them easier to frost and will help you avoid piecing together your cake failure at odd hours of the morning.

For the frosting, add the butter and powdered sugar into a stand mixer and mix on low until combined. Mix in the vanilla, too.

Add the cream and lemon juice to a small bowl, whisk together, then add to the stand mixer and mix it in. If the frosting’s too stiff, just whisk together another teaspoon of cream with a 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice and keep repeating until you have the right consistency.

Slice off the top of one layer so you have a flat top, then frost it. Make sure you put plenty of frosting on top so you get that nice in-betweeny, creamy layer. You know what I’m talking about.

Put the other layer on top, frost it and arrange the strawberries on top. If you do the strawberries, you’re going to have to refrigerate the cake after you’re done eating, but it’s worth it. Trust me.

All that’s left is to put on a healthy slice of wax on the turntable. This week it’s Hideki Sakamoto’s “Part 11” from the Echochrome II soundtrack.