Jordan: This cake is a New Year’s Eve cake, but we hope it will set the stage for 2020. It’s a simple black-and-white cake, which fits perfectly with a great goal for the new year: Do less.
Kitra: For many of us, I think I can safely say that in 2019 we did TOO MUCH. Tried too hard, worked too hard, and didn’t enjoy the small stuff enough. Like a really good frosting and a moist cake. (Or like cancelling plans, which is the true meaning of Christmas.)
This is not to say that doing and caring about things doesn’t matter, but that it’s important to actually consider the things you’re doing and caring about. Some things, for example, that are not worth giving your time and energy:
- Having your oven clock be correct down to the second
- What the people who work at Sephora think about you when you’re not wearing makeup
- The right exact shade of purple you want that thing to be
- That pile of unopened mail that you carefully hide whenever someone is coming over
- Plastic straws, both the use and disuse thereof
- Wearing 2 different colors of denim
- Trying to sell the clothes that have been in the “to get rid of” pile for years when you could just donate them
- If you’re “allowed” to wear hats
- What your ex’s new girlfriend will think if she sees you across the room at a party
- Whether that stranger’s dog likes you (maybe, that dog is a dick. It’s rare, but happens.)
- “Guilty pleasure” music, unless it’s made by actual criminals/terrible people
- Hanging up that clean laundry tonight, because it’s midnight and you want to sleep
- How other people organize their books
- How white your teeth are
- Whether other people give enough/too much attention, in your view, to sports, celebrities, and/or astrology
- The heat death of the universe. You’ll be here or you (presumably) won’t. Who cares! Unless you work for NASA, chill out buddy.
And, for our purposes here: Making every cake a beautiful three-tier masterpiece.
If you put enough candles in it, or sprinkles on it, any cake can look astonishingly festive. In 2020, just throw some sprinkles on a sheet cake and call it a day. (Or don’t throw them, because I constantly remind Jordan that they don’t magically stick 90% of the time. But use them.)
(Sprinkles are just edible confetti, throw them if you want to throw them. But be aware they do bounce off of cake sides, just FYI.)
If you’re looking for a cake to sprinkle, this is a good one!
IT’S SO FLUFFY.
This is truly an answer to the boxed white cakes of everyone’s childhoods.
It’s like the crappy sheet cake you get at a second-grader’s birthday party, but delicious. I don’t think I realized that white cake could taste this good.
We were both pretty surprised. It looks amazing, tastes amazing, and cuts BEAUTIFULLY. You know how sometimes it’s just hard to get perfect slices? Not here, Buster.
We used Black Onyx cocoa powder, which makes the frosting taste like an Oreo and makes it extra-dark. Even with regular cocoa, however, it will still be deliciously chocolatey and not too overwhelmingly sweet.
This cake is simple, but it looks so regal. It’s black-tie ready. So white and fluffy! So black and fluffy! It’s the feather boa of cakes, but awesome and not constantly flying into your mouth when you aren’t prepared! Only when you are prepared. Because you’re eating.
Basically, it’s a cake that will make people happy without you having to slave away in the kitchen. Which is exactly the kind of cake 2020 needs.
Adapted from Bravetart
If you were never subjected to it as a child, white cake is basically the true neutral of cakes. This recipe has vanilla, almond extract, and coconut oil but doesn’t taste like any of those things. Instead, it’s a balanced, perfectly light, just-sweet-enough cake.
This recipe calls specifically for bleached cake flour, like Swan’s Down or Softasilk. It won’t be nearly as light and fluffy if you try to use all-purpose flour or DIY cake flour.
The directions here use a stand mixer, but you could use a handheld electric mixer as well. Just know that it will take a lot longer to get everything appropriately fluffy. Don’t skimp on that!
- 1 stick (112g) unsalted butter, softened
- ⅓ cup (56g) virgin (unrefined) coconut oil, softened slightly but not melted
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225g) sugar
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (225g) bleached cake flour
- 4 egg whites, roughly at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup buttermilk, roughly at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a 9”x9” pan with parchment paper and coat the bottom and sides with baking spray.
In a stand mixer, combine the butter, coconut oil, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low to combine them roughly, then turn the mixer to medium and beat until the mixture is very fluffy, about five minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally.
While the mixer is running, sift your flour into a separate bowl. (Sifting is a pain, but it’s actually helpful here, again for extra fluff.)
When the butter mixture is ready, leave the mixer running and add the egg whites in one at a time. (Assuming you’ve separated them into a bowl all together, it’ll be fine if two of them slip in at once.) Add the vanilla and almond extract.
Add half of the flour and mix on low until roughly combined, then half of the buttermilk, then the remaining flour, and finally the remaining buttermilk. Once the last buttermilk is roughly combined, finish mixing everything by hand to make sure there are no unmixed pockets.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the top is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out free of batter. (A couple of crumbs are fine.) Remove to a wire rack to cool fully before frosting.
Rich Chocolate Frosting
This is based on Kitra’s go-to frosting, which we’ve used before. We swapped some of the powdered sugar for cocoa powder, largely for the sake of color but also to make it a bit more chocolatey. As we noted earlier, feel free to use either regular cocoa or Black Onyx, which you can find in some specialty stores (we bought ours at Kalustyan’s in New York) or order it online.
This will make just enough to do a swoopy layer on top of the cake, but not on the sides.
- 2 oz dark chocolate, melted and cooled
- 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (120g) powdered sugar
- 6 tablespoons (30g) cocoa powder (see note)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream
Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Process until thick and fluffy, about one minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.