Celebrate May with a flower adorned cake. Better yet, this layer cake tastes like a giant butter cracker. The salty sweet combination in this Ritz Cracker Cake is harmonious. A fluffy buttery yellow cake has a butter cracker buttercream!
The month of May still feels like a transition. Pissing downpours of April rain yield vermilion green grass. Real estate signs appear just as suddenly. People are getting the heck out of Dodge before they have to commit to another lease or another winter. “For Rent or Sale Nice Three Bedroom House, Extreme Mold But OK,” reads a sheet of particle board down the road. There’s no address of the house, it’s nowhere near the sign. Each spring the same sign appears, the same way everybody becomes American for Memorial Day and hangs flags on front doors.
Yet the flowers make it all worth it. I wanted to celebrate such colors with a flower covered cake. A logical way to flavor this cake would be with rose or some flower. However, floral extracts are, well, gross. I don’t care how well you ‘balance’ the flavor. No matter how subtle, it tastes like a scented candle. I’m not going to waste sticks of butter over something that has the flavor of a church’s rec room.
So I countered by making a fun cake. The Ritz Cracker Cake is a hybrid of sorts. The recipe was a concoction from Cook’s Illustrated, fusing the levity of a chiffon cake and the moistness of a butter cake all-in-one. I altered it around, but not by much. I always find three layer cakes to be more dramatic and adjusted the recipe to accommodate three 8-inch cake pans. The frosting is the same concept as the Graham Cracker Frosting I made. Grinding the butter crackers with heavy cream removes any potential grittiness.
Butter crackers are like cute yellow polka dots. This Ritz Cracker Cake fuses fun flavors with formal floral decor. It is the make-your-own-meal-food, that comes with late spring. May weather unwinds the tight structure of life. The arid balmy days and 7:30 pm sunsets just feel like no homework. Not that I have homework, not anymore, thank god for being done with that. But this time of year is a buildup. The precursor to summer days is more exciting than the summer. The same way the preparation for Christmas is more exciting than Christmas Day. Because once the main day comes—it’s already over.
- For the Fluffy Yellow Cake:
- 3 ¾ cups cake flour
- 2 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk, room temperature
- 15 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons butter extract
- 9 egg yolks and 4 egg whites, room temperature
- For the Ritz Cracker Paste:
- 1-whole 12-ounce box butter crackers
- ½ cup milk powder
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon fine salt
- ½ cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
- ½ to 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 to 1 1/3 cup whole milk
- For the Ritz Cracker Frosting:
- 1 ½ cups (3 sticks, 12 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 ½ pounds powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- Ritz Cracker Paste (recipe precedes), brought to room temperature
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3 8-inch cake pans with baking spray, set aside.
- Whisk together flour, 2 ¼ cups granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In another bowl whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, oil, extracts, and egg yolks, set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high until foamy, about 30 seconds, gradually add remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar and raise speed to high, beating until soft medium peaks form, they should still be moist. Transfer egg whites to another bowl.
- In the now clean and empty mixing bowl and whisk attachment, add dry ingredients. With mixer’s speed on low, gradually pour in wet mixture until incorporated. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl down. Return mixer’s speed to medium-low, beating until smooth and incorporated, about 10 to 20 seconds.
- Using a rubber spatula, stir in 1/3 of the egg white mixture, this will lighten the batter. Fold in remaining egg whites until no streaks remain.
- Divide batter between prepared pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating halfway. A toothpick inserted should come out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs. Do not over bake these cakes!
- Let cakes rest in pans for 5 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, this will create a moister crumb.
- Combine Ritz cracker crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk butter and cream together. Using a food processor blend the dry with the wet. Gradually drizzle in milk until a smooth paste forms, scrape the sides of the processor to get everything incorporated. The paste will have a consistency of brownie batter. Pour into a container, refrigerating until it hardens, about 1 to 2 hours.
- With a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. On low speed add brown sugar, powdered sugar, and salt. Raise speed to medium-high, beating until pale in color and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add in room temperature Ritz Cracker Paste, raise speed back to medium-high, beating for 3 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
- Spoon frosting onto a cake board. Secure first cake layer on, apply frosting evenly Repeat this process with remaining layers. Apply a thing crumb coat of frosting, chill for 10 minutes, and then apply a final thicker cake layer. Chill for 15 minutes. Decorate with remaining frosting.