In early May, a coworker asked me if I’d be willing to make a birthday cake for her sweet, little daughter, who would be turning nine.

Of course I said yes.

I was particularly excited by this request because my coworker wanted a tiered cake. This represented a new baking frontier for me because I have never made a tiered cake before.

Initially I was a bit nervous because having not had any experience with tiered cakes, I was worried that if my coworker wanted something elaborate or complicated, that I wouldn’t be up to the task.

Thankfully, she wanted a three-tier cake comprised of one chocolate layer and two vanilla layers. She didn’t want any fillings in the cake nor did she want it to be elaborately decorated. Instead, she wanted something pretty but simple that would be appropriate for a little girl’s birthday party.

This calmed me somewhat and thanks to her confidence in me, I felt that I was up to the challenge.

For the cake layers, I used my trusty favourite chocolate cake recipe from The Cake Book and for the vanilla cake layers I used my trusty favourite vanilla cake recipe from More From Magnolia: Recipes from the World Famous Bakery and Allysa Torey’s Home Kitchen.

For the buttercream, however, I decided to finally try a recipe that I’d bookmarked from an issue of Gourmet magazine.

I’ve actually written about the particular cake in that article before. Last year, when I was hired to make a nut-free cake, I used the cake from the Gourmet article as visual inspiration. This time around, I thought I’d give the Vanilla Buttercream recipe from that article a try, as it seemed straightforward. Also, I needed a recipe that I could easily double and I felt comfortable doing so with the Gourmet recipe.

I have to say that May has been a great month in terms of my Magazine Mondays choices. I made some incredible cookies and some beautiful halibut and this week, on the last Monday in May, I’m happy to share my experience with what I now consider to be the best Vanilla Buttercream recipe that I’ve ever tried.

It was incredible! The buttercream is a perfect balance between that lovely butter taste and that lovely vanilla taste. Texture-wise, it was easily spread and looked very pretty on the finished cake. I had no troubles with the recipe as the instructions were clear and easily followed. The only difficulty I experienced was the constant struggle with my desire to stick my entire head in the mixing bowl and just eat the icing up.

I’m happy to share the recipe with you with the highest of recommendations.


I know that you’re supposed to be modest in life, that’s what Mamma and Papa Cream Puff always taught me, but I have to say that I was very proud of myself upon completion of this cake.

I don’t think a tiny bit of immodesty will hurt in this case.

Here’s a photo journal of my tiered cake adventure:

I applied crumb coats to each cake layer (a thin layer of icing that goes on the cake before a second, thicker layer is applied). Here’s the crumb coat on the chocolate layer.


When I unmolded my final cake layer from the baking pan, look what happened!


But I did not panic. All problems can be fixed. With some creative icing technique, I covered up the missing cake piece and you couldn’t even tell.


I made royal icing flowers in pink to decorate the bottom and top layers of the cake. Here I’m applying them to the bottom layer.


To add visual appeal to the cake, I covered the second layer in tiny pink buttercream polka dots.


Getting the third layer on was a bit tricky, but I was patient and it worked.


Here’s a view of the finished cake from the top.


In the end, the tiered cake was very successful. It served 40 people and it didn’t topple over or fall apart (although I did not experience the ordeal of transporting it as my coworker came and picked it up). While I can’t say that I’d want to make a lot of tiered cakes, it’s nice to get this first one under my belt.

As always, on a Magazine Monday, I have some links to share with you. Here are some other food bloggers who went toe to to with their magazine piles and won:

Wandering Coyote of ReTorte made Spicy Molasses Cookies from Canadian Living Magazine.

Mandi of Red Dirt Mummy made Zucchini and Rosemary Bread from Australian Table.

Joy of the Cooking of Joy made Sage and Apricot Shortbread Cookies from Better Homes and Gardens and Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream from Gourmet.

Emiglia of Tomato Kumato made Panko Pork Cutlets with Pineapple and Ginger Salsa from Bon Appétit.

Tamy of 3 Sides of Crazy made Pickled Eggs.

Biz from Bigges Diabetic Loser made Farro Saltato con Capesante, Gamberetti e Salsa di Zafferano from La Cucina.

Kyle from Thin Crust, Deep Dish made Fennel, Sunchoke and Apple Salad from Saveur.

Remember, if you have a magazine recipe that you’ve tried, send the link to me and I’ll post it in my next Magazine Mondays post.

Have a great week, everyone!