I had SO much fun making 4th of July desserts! Last week I did an awesome layer cake that looked like a flag with each slice and this week I did a sheet cake that looked like a cake with berry adornments! Great fun and super easy! You don't even have to do any of the fancy piping around the edges like I did, I just wanted it to look super special, so I went for it.
I have a large 18 x 12 sheet pan that would have worked even better for this cake, but because I didn't want half a sheet cake leftover to take home, I opted for a smaller 13 x 9 cake. THE most important thing about making a sheet cake that you want to turn out of the pan, is to line the bottom with parchment paper. If you don't line the bottom with parchment, then you are running a very high risk of not being able to turn the cake out of the pan... now, if you are going to leave it in the pan and frost it that way, then don't worry, just grease the pan. I wanted to decorate the edges and border with piping though, so I turned it out of the pan.
To properly line the pan with parchment to turn out, you'll want to do a couple things. First cut out a piece of parchment paper just big enough to cover the bottom of the pan, not the sides. Now grease the whole thing with some butter or shortening. Place the parchment along the bottom. Flour just the sides of the pan. Then finally grease the parchment. Done. Not too bad right? If you grease and flour the parchment it's not a big deal, it's just not necessary for it to be floured so why do the extra step? That is not true for the sides though. No exception. Flour the sides.
The cake itself is fairly easy to put together. It utilizes the basic creaming method and alternate dry/wet add in at the end. It even has a little bit of almond extract for a little something different. If you're not a fan of almond extract just substitute an equivalent amount of vanilla extract. The cake turns out beautifully, nice and soft and flavorful. Moist and tender. Exactly like a cake should be. There is nothing worse than a dry piece of crumbly cake- yuck!
Oh and this cake uses a cream cheese frosting... hehehe SOOO good! Who doesn't love sweetened cream cheese? um, no one! If you are the one exception to that, then I recommend using this swiss buttercream frosting. It is also amazing. Again, if you want to, replace the almond extract with the vanilla. No big deal. And above all else- make sure your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature or else you will have lumpy frosting! To prevent this, I always cream my cream cheese first to smooth it out since it is more prone to lumping then butter. Once that is nice and smooth I add in the butter and smooth them both out to a creamy consistency then finally add the flavorings and sugar. I don't like my frosting too sweet so I added less than the recommended amount which is about 6 cups (1.5 lb). However, the confectioner's sugar is not only used for sweetness but for adding stability to the icing, therefore the less sugar you use, the more gloppy and less thick and spreadable it will be. I don't think I used more than 5 cups and my consistency was fine.
adapted slightly from Ina Garten
- 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup milk
- 3 blocks (24 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 5 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 pan and line the bottom with a rectangular cut out of parchment paper. Flour the sides. Grease the parchment as well.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a knife. Rap lightly on the counter to help remove any air bubbles. Bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 50 minutes, until the top is browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.
For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!). Add more confectionary sugar if needed to reach desired level of sweetness.