Vanilla and Raspberry Cake with Ombré Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Photo by Hector Sanchez

An ombré finish always creates a stunning presentation. Developed by Erin Clarkson of Cloudy Kitchen, this cake has raspberries baked right into the layers and is finished with a Swiss meringue buttercream, which is colored and flavored with freeze-dried raspberries. Take a look at our Baker’s Complete Guide to Buttercream for tips on how to create this beautiful and easy ombré effect. 

Vanilla and Raspberry Cake with Ombré Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
 
Makes 1 (8-inch) cake
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups (300 grams) whole milk
  • 4 large eggs (200 grams), room temperature
  • ½ cup (120 grams) full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 large egg yolks (37 grams), room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (12 grams) vanilla bean paste
  • 4¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon (602 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ cups (450 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3¼ teaspoons (16.25 grams) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  • 1½ cups (340 grams) unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • 3 cups (390 grams) fresh or frozen raspberries (see Note)
  • Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe follows)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour 3 (8-inch) round cake pans; line bottom of pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, yogurt, egg yolks, and vanilla bean paste.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt at low speed just until combined. With mixer on low speed, add butter, 1 cube at a time, beating until well combined. (Mixture should look like sand.) Add half of milk mixture, beating just until combined. Add remaining milk mixture, and beat at medium speed just until combined. Fold batter using a rubber spatula to ensure that no dry ingredients remain. Divide batter among prepared pans. Arrange raspberries evenly on top of each cake, pressing a few slightly into the batter. (This will help to distribute them more evenly throughout the cake.)
  4. Bake until springy to the touch and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks. (Once cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap if not using immediately.)
  5. Place 1 cake layer on a cake turntable. (To help hold cake in place, smear about 1½ teaspoons Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream onto center of turntable before adding first cake layer.) Spread 1 cup (160 grams) light pink Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream on cake layer. Top with second cake layer, pressing very lightly to secure, and seal edge where cake layers meet with a thin layer of light pink buttercream. Spread 1 cup (160 grams) light pink buttercream on second cake layer, and top with remaining cake layer. (I like to add this one upside down to give a nice smooth top.) Apply a thin layer of light pink buttercream to top and sides of cake, smoothing with an of set spatula or icing scraper. Refrigerate until set, 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. To create an ombré effect, spread bottom one-third of cake with dark pink Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream, middle one-third with light pink buttercream, and top one-third and top of cake with white buttercream. Using a cake scraper pressed lightly against buttercream, blend colors, adding more where needed to help blend and fill in any patches. Using an of set spatula, add swoops and swirls to sides of cake to give texture.
  7. Place remaining buttercream (both pink and white—this will create a pretty swirl effect) in a piping bag fitted with an open star tip (Wilton 1M). Pipe buttercream on top of cake as desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Notes
You can use either fresh or frozen raspberries in this recipe. If using frozen, let thaw on paper towel to absorb extra moisture before using. Adding them to the batter at the end ensures they won’t sink and burn at the edges of the pan. If you are using frozen, the berries may weep a little juice into the batter as they bake.

To make powdered freeze-dried raspberries, place 3 ounces (85 grams) freeze-dried raspberries in the work bowl of a food processor, and process until they are a fine powder.

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
 
Ingredients
  • 8 large egg whites (240 grams)
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons (12 grams) vanilla bean paste
  • 4 cups (908 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 14 tablespoons (70 grams) powdered freeze-dried raspberries (see Note), divided
  • Pink gel food coloring (optional)
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt by hand. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, until an instant-read thermometer registers 160°F (71°C) and sugar is dissolved.
  2. Carefully return bowl to stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat at high speed until white and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes. Add cold butter, 1 cube at a time, beating until combined after each addition. (Mixture may look curdled at this point, but it will come together.) Beat at high speed for 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla bean paste. Transfer 1¼ cups (200 grams) buttercream to a small bowl, and set aside. (This will be your white buttercream for the ombré effect.)
  3. Add 10 tablespoons (50 grams) raspberry powder to remaining buttercream, and beat until combined.
  4. Transfer 1¼ cups (200 grams) of buttercream to another small bowl. Stir in remaining 4 tablespoons (20 grams) raspberry powder and a few drops of food coloring (if using). Use immediately.

 

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