#91 – Vanilla Cake with Berries

#91 – Vanilla Cake with Berries

This is Recipe Roundup, episode 91. Typically on this segment, I try to share original recipes, or at very least common recipes that I’ve put my own spin on. However, I made a cake this week that is simply too heavenly not to share. Full credit for this Vanilla Naked Cake goes to the website Sally’s Baking Addiction. I must say, I am just about addicted as well! 


Several episodes ago, I spoke about taking food inspiration from manga and anime. In Japan, Christmas is a largely secular holiday. While in the United States, it’s often a time to come together with your family, Christmas Eve in Japan is a big holiday for romantic couples – almost like an additional Valentine’s Day. Japanese Christmas Cake is the food of the moment, but unlike western fruitcakes or gingerbread, think strawberry shortcake. 


The renderings of beautiful strawberry Christmas cakes have always made my mouth water – but there’s also an interesting trope that has arisen from the iconic cakes! Although many Japanese youth are marrying older these days, it wasn’t too long ago when most people – particularly women – were expected to get married by the age of 25. Since Christmas Cakes are made in bulk for the holiday and there are always some leftover after the celebrations end, they became a metaphor for unmarried women over the age of 25! In manga and anime, Christmas Cake characters are often women nearing the age of 30 who dedicated their early adulthood to their careers or a failed relationship, and now have to deal with the nagging of their well-intentioned parents about settling down. The implication is that they are past their prime, just like a holiday cake the day after Christmas. In recent years, the trope has become a way to explore the different social expectations between the older and younger generations in Japan and I’ve read many a story in which a supposed Christmas Cake woman proves that she’s not too late and adults of all ages can find love!


All of those fun facts aside, last week was my future mother-in-law’s birthday, so I decided to make her a cake! Now that I reflect, it’s a little funny to me that I took inspiration from the Japanese Christmas Cake. Instead of the typical spongy and light cake, I was determined to find a spectacular and moist vanilla cake recipe. And boy did I. I like cake just fine, but I do not consider myself a cake person – this cake was amazing. 


You can find the full recipe for Vanilla Naked Cake at sallysbakingaddiction.com, but I want to highlight a few ingredients that I think made it the best cake I’ve ever tasted. First of all, I highly recommend using cake flour and sifting it before you measure and mix. Cake flour has less protein than all-purpose, which allows it to maintain a light and fluffy crumb while still being sturdy. Secondly, the recipe includes a significant amount of buttermilk which is the perfect ingredient to brighten up lots of sugar and a whole tablespoon of vanilla. I followed the recipe exactly and decided to stack the cakes with the vanilla buttercream and berries in between. It was a huge success and I will definitely be making the cake again. I think it would go excellent with any type of frosting or glaze. 

If you have a recipe you’d like to share with the show, you can send it to sage@amrmail.org. For Recipe Roundup, this is Sage Tanguay.


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