Grandma’s Birthday Cake! (White Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting)

12 May

Two weeks ago my grandmother turned 87. Eighty-seven. That’s exactly three times older than I am now. And damn is this lady kickin’. She wears gold tennis shoes and plays bridge, can carry on a conversation about medical reform or the latest best seller, and always dresses with style. She raised four children (one of them my father so I know she has fortitude) and completely holds the history of our family in her head. Everyday, and particularly this Mother’s Day, I am grateful that I live close enough to visit her on a regular basis. So when we put together a celebratory BBQ in her honor I jumped at the chance to make the cake.

Now if it’s not chocolate, my family doesn’t really consider it dessert so I knew I needed at least a partially chocolate cake. Personally, I’m not a fan of chocolate cake so I decided to save the chocolate delish for the topping. Instead, I found the most excellent “Perfect White Cake” recipe at

Usually I’m not a fiddlely baker. And by that I mean it annoys me if there’s more steps than just throwing things together. But the key to this awesome cake was the egg whites – so fluffy!

First you have to mix together some milk and 6 egg whites (I never know what to do with the left over yolks…), plus almond extract! The other key ingredient! It was in both the cake and the frosting and most everyone commented on it.


Then you mix together some cake flour (I used all purpose but sifted it), sugar, baking powder, and salt.


Add the butter. Oh, the butter.


Next, you add most of the milk mixture, mix a bit, and add the rest.


Pour batter into prepared cake pans. My cake plans are about 10-inches so I had to reduce the bake time a bit.


But they turned out lovely!


I followed the frosting recipe here for the Chocolate Buttercream and ended up making one and a half batches. I mean, I may not like chocolate cake, but I’m a huge fan of chocolate frosting. Plus I had a bit to play with my frosting tips.


All packed and ready to travel! Happy Birthday, Grandma!


The Perfect White Cake (from

Everything you’ll need:

  • 2-1/4 cups flour (cake flour recommended)
  • 1 cup milk at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter (=3/4 cup)


  1. Combine the room temperature milk (1 cup) and egg whites (6) with the almond (2 t) and vanilla (1 t) extracts in bowl and mix with a fork until blended.
  2. Mix the flour (2-1/4 c), sugar (1-3/4 c), baking powder (4 t), and salt (1 t) with an electric mixer on slow speed.
  3. Cut the butter (1-1/2 sticks = 3/4 cup) into cubes and add to the flour mixture.
  4. Add all but about 1/2 cup of milk mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed for about 1-1/2 minutes.
  5. Add the remaining milk and beat for another minute.
  6. Pour into prepared cake pans and bake – about 20 minutes for 10-inch pans but adjust according to your pans.
  7. Allow to cool completely before assembling and frosting!

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (from – she has super cute pictures, check them out!

Everything you’ll need:

  •  2 sticks (= 1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract OR 1 teaspoon almond extract (I went with almond) 
  • 4 Tablespoons milk or heavy cream


  1. Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer, then add 3 cups of the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder (1/2 cup) and mix until combined (start slow and then increase speed).
  2. Add the extract, salt (1/2 t), and milk/cream (4 T) and beat for 3 minutes.
  3. Add more powdered sugar or milk as needed to get the right consistency.

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