Ron Ben-Israel's Vanilla Cake with Pistachio and Apricot Buttercreams
Recipe created by Ron Ben-Israel
Ben-Israel, the only visiting master pastry instructor at the French Culinary Institute in New York City and the owner of Ron Ben-Israel Cakes, says, "Our philosophy is that our cakes must taste as good as they look." This one measures up, with four vanilla cake layers alternating with fillings of pistachio and apricot buttercreams, in springlike shades of pale green and peach.

This cake is one of 10 sweet creations in celebration of O's 10th birthday.
Servings: Serves 12–16
Ingredients
  • 6 large egg whites , at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk , at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract | Get the recipe!
  • 4 cups cake flour , sifted directly into measuring cup (not self-rising)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter , at room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3/4 cup and 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 ripe apricot , halved and pitted
  • 5 large egg whites , at room temperature
  • 24 Tbsp. (3 sticks) unsalted butter , at room temperature
  • 3 ounces good-quality white chocolate , melted in the microwave or double-boiler according to package instructions; cooled slightly
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. pistachio paste , to taste
  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves or apricot jam
Directions
Note: This recipe is for a classic, one-tiered layer cake.

To make cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 2 (9" x 2") round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper; grease parchment and dust pans with flour, tapping out excess. In a small bowl, whisk egg whites, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla until combined.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add butter and remaining 1 cup milk; mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened. Then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add 1/3 egg white mixture and beat on low speed until blended. Beat on medium speed for 20 seconds. Scrape bowl down. Repeat 2 times with remaining egg white mixture. Divide batter between prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around sides of pans and turn cake layers onto racks; flip layers and let cool completely.

To make buttercream: In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water and 3 tablespoons sugar to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Add apricot; reduce heat to low. Simmer until apricot softens, about 2 minutes. Put apricot on a plate and refrigerate until cool enough to handle; remove peel and finely chop (it will be a puree). Set aside.

Bring a large saucepan filled with about 1 1/2-inches water to a boil; reduce heat so water simmers. Combine egg whites and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a medium stainless steel bowl. Place bowl over pot of simmering water (bowl should be above, not touching, water) and whisk constantly until egg mixture is warm and sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg white mixture on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat until cool, about 8 minutes. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat on medium-high speed until buttercream is smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. If at any point buttercream appears separated, beat again until smooth. Add white chocolate and beat until smooth and fluffy. Divide buttercream; stir apricot puree into one half until well blended. In the other half, stir in pistachio paste, to taste.

To assemble cake: Remove parchment paper from cake layers. Place 1 layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread with apricot buttercream and then preserves. Top with second cake layer, top-side up. Frost cake with about 1 cup pistachio buttercream to crumb coat. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Frost with remaining pistachio buttercream. Serve immediately or refrigerate; if refrigerated, let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

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