I’m not sure where my mum developed this fun little idiosyncrasy, but she is completely obsessed with having the perfect birthday cake. She doesn’t need fancy dinners or parties, but forget a white almond and sour cream cake (also known as a traditional New Orleans wedding cake) and you’ve officially spoiled the day. It’s not just the icing on the birthday cake; it’s quite literally the whole darn thing.
The base of the cake is white and it’s made fluffy and crumbly through the use of whipped egg whites, while sour cream lends a bit of moist softness to the crumble.
- 5 egg whites
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ tsp almond extract
- ¼ cup cornflour
- 2 cups cake flour
- ¾ cup plain (all-purpose) flour
- 2 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1¾ cups caster sugar
- 250 g unsalted butter, softened
- 375 g unsalted butter, softened
- 5 cups icing (powdered) sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 80 ml thickened cream
- edible flowers, to decorate (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 30 minutes
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease and line 2 x 22 cm round baking tins.
Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites in a bowl for 1 minute or until foamy. Add ¼ cup sour cream, vanilla extract and almond extract, whisking to incorporate. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, place the cornflour, cake flour, plain flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining ¾ cup sour cream, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes to slightly aerate the batter, making sure to scrape down the sides as you go.
Reduce to low speed and beat in one-third of the egg white mixture, then the second third, then the final third, continuing to beat after each addition until combined and making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl as you go.
Divide the batter between the tins, smoothing the top. Bake for 35–40 minutes or until the cakes are slightly golden on the top and spring back easily to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 20–30 minutes.
Flip the cakes out onto a clean work surface or, if you're preparing a day in advance, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate until ready to frost.
Meanwhile, to make the frosting, using a stand or handheld mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl on low speed until smooth. Add the icing sugar, salt, vanilla extract and almond extract, and beat until combined. Add the cream, increase speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.
To assemble, if the cakes have jagged edges or are puffed up in the middle, use a serrated knife to even out. Place 1 cake on a cake stand. Take just under one-third of the frosting and spread evenly on top. Stack with the second cake and spread the top with another one-third of the frosting. Take the final one-third of the frosting and spread evenly over the sides of the cake.
Decorate with edible flowers, if desired, and serve.
• The almond flavouring in both the cake and the frosting comes from almond extract. A little goes a long way with that stuff, though, so be extra careful when you’re pouring!
Recipe from Chocolate + Marrow by Brooke Bass, with photographs by Brooke Bass.