All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake with Mousseline Buttercream

I’ve mentioned that I’ll do a layered cake before my school term starts. Mission accomplished! Ding!
Bookmarked this for the longest time. Like how the burnt sugar gave the buttercream a hint of caramel. Though the buttercream was ultra smooth and creamy, I think people around me aren’t really crazy about buttercream. My mom and her auntie friends aren’t fans, one of my colleagues even said buttercream tastes like ‘cheap confectionery cake’. Boooo.

Maybe it was something that I did, but the cake wasn’t as moist for me as Rose has described it to be. It was good for the first day, then it started to dry out quickly. By the third day, it was like shrivelled slices of stale bread. The buttercream stayed awesome though. The alcohol was overwhelming at the beginning, but it kinda “evaporated” away after sitting for a day.

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Well I had fun assembling the cake and playing with the buttercream though haha.

All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake with Mousseline Buttercream (adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible)
Makes 2 9-inch cake layers


6 large egg yolks (112g)
242g milk
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
300g sifted cake flour
300g cups sugar
1 tablespoon + teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
170g unsalted butter (must be softened)


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. In a medium bowl lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla.
3. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides.
4. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
6. Let the cakes cool in the pan on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.

Mousseline Buttercream:
454g unsalted butter, softened but cool
200g sugar
60g water
5 large egg whites (150g)
1/2 + 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
90g liqueur such as Mandarine Napoleon, Grand Marnier, or an eau-de-vie

1. In a mixing bowl beat the butter until smooth and creamy and set aside in a cool place.
2. Have ready a heatproof glass measure near the range.
3. In a small heavy saucepan (preferably with a nonstick lining) heat 3/4 cup sugar and the 1/4 cup water, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling. Stop stirring and reduce the heat to low.
4. In another mixing bowl beat the egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar, and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly. Increase the heat and boil the syrup until the firm ball stage. Immediately transfer the syrup to the glass measure to stop the cooking.
5. If using a hand-held mixer beat the syrup into the whites in a steady stream. Don’t allow the syrup to fall on the beaters or they will spin it onto the sides of the bowl. If using a stand mixer, pour a small amount of syrup over the whites with the mixer off. Immediately beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the mixer and add a larger amount of syrup. Beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Continue with the remaining syrup. For the last addition, use a rubber scraper to remove the syrup clinging to the glass measure. Lower speed to medium and continue beating up to 2 minutes or until cool. If not completely cool, continue beating on lowest speed.
6. Beat in the butter at medium speed 1 tablespoon at a time. At first the mixture will seem thinner but will thicken beautifully by the time all the butter is added. If at any time the mixture looks slightly curdled, increase the speed slightly and beat until smooth before continuing to add more butter.
7. Lower the speed slightly and drizzle in the liqueur. Place in an airtight bowl. Rebeat lightly from time to time to maintain silky texture. Buttercream becomes spongy on standing.

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