This, as you can see, is a cake, decorated like a baseball. Of all the things I have ever created in my lifetime, the cream puff fanciness, the three-layered cakes piled with fruit and other dreamy things, the vegan Thanksgiving entrée that was so good it could convince a grizzly bear to go off meat, this cake might be the greatest. Because it is a cake decorated like a baseball.
I actually made this cake several weeks ago, as a Father’s Day gift for my dad, a fellow baseball fanatic and appreciator of cake. For quite some time, I was not sure if I would ever share it on this site, being as though both the cake and frosting recipes are direct takes from America’s Test Kitchen (the only change being that I, as per usual, cut the sugar in the cake by 1/3), and I generally like to feature things on this site that lean towards the original, or at least have more of a personal twist to them.
But what, I ask you, could have a more personal twist on it than a cake decorated like a baseball? I mean, for a lady who spends what some might consider an unreasonable amount of time making cakes and thinking about/watching/obsessing over baseball, this cake is pretty much my own personal mic drop. Will I ever be able to make a cake that tops this one? I really don’t know. But, luckily, the only way to find out is to make more cakes.
Vanilla and Strawberry Baseball Cake
Classic White Layer Cake
Slightly adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 ¼ cups (9 ounces) cake flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
4 cups vanilla frosting (recipe follows)
about 1 cup of strawberries, smaller berries preferred
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 8-or-9-inch round cake pans, and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg whites, and vanilla and almond extracts.
In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium-low speed beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time, about 30 seconds. Continue to beat the mixture until it resembles moist crumbs, about 1 to 3 minutes.
Beat in all but ½ cup of the milk mixture, then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until smooth, light, and fluffy, 1 to 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly beat in the remaining 12 cup milk mixture until the batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds.
Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the tops, and gently tap the cake pans on the counter to settle the batter. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.
Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edges of the cakes, then flip them out onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment paper, flip the cakes right side up, and let cool completely before frosting, at least 2 hours.
3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
3 cups (12 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream, vanilla, and salt together on medium-high speed until smooth 1 to 2 minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low, slowly add the confectioner’s sugar, and beat until incorporated and smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Increase mixer speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 5 to 10 minutes.
Makes about 4 cups of frosting.
To make the baseball cake:
When the cake has cooled completely, frost the entire cake, smoothing out the frosting as much as possible.
Hull the strawberries, then slice each one in half from top to bottom. Slice each half into thin strips of roughly equal size.
Use the rim of a large bowl to mark the curve of your strawberry stitching by gently placing the rim about 1/3 of the way across the cake on both the right and left sides. This will make a pattern on which you can place your strawberry stitches. Place strawberry slices on the diagonal on either side of the curved pattern. If necessary, consult an actual baseball in order to get an idea of how to make your stitching look just right.