When my highly anticipated copy of Molly on the Range finally arrived in the mail a few days ago, I immediately 1) tore open the cardboard packaging, 2) dove right into Molly's stories about transitioning from a post-Julliard NYC scene to living on a farm and 3) started softening my butter to make her Funfetti Cake. The cover image, next to the gorgeous gal herself, reveals a beautiful 3-layer, rainbow-filled cake. Without a doubt, I knew that cake was the first thing I would make from this amazing new cookbook.
For today’s ‘Cook the Cover,’ I re-created Molly Yeh’s Funfetti Cake! Since this is the first of (hopefully) many posts in this new series, I should probably explain. I have a huge cookbook collection that grows and grows every Tuesday (cookbook release day). My passion for cookbook collecting is getting a bit out of control these days, so in order to justify my obsession with beautiful cookbooks, I’ve decided to bring them to the blog. A win/win for everyone, if you ask me. The theme is ‘Cook the Cover’ where I recreate the dish that is featured on the cover of the book. Typically the cover image is down-right gorgeous, so not only is this a good place to start and see if the recipe is equally delicious, but also I just like how it sounds, lol. This won’t be a full-on cookbook review, just a chance for me to send some love to my fave cookbook authors, give a quick run-down about why I like the book, and share my best interpretation of the cover image.
I marked my calendar with the Molly on the Range release date to make sure I was available to dive right in. It ended up raining literally all weekend, so I had zero guilt cuddling up on the couch in my sweats reading nearly the entire thing. Just like her blog, My Name is Yeh, Molly’s new book is both genius and genuine. It’s everything that has made Molly and her blog so likeable and relatable over the past several years, but it print. It’s easy to attribute her suburban childhood, Jewish-Chinese heritage, Julliard years, NYC food scene days, and upper-Midwest farm life for her endless amount of content and inspiration, but it’s her story-telling that brings everything to life. Damn, this girl can write! Not only are the recipes original yet familiar (without being too far out there), but it’s the writing that makes you feel right at home with her. It’s no wonder I walked away wanting to make at least a dozen of the recipes immediately. But of course, it was the Funfetti Cake that was ultimately first in my kitchen.
I always feel like the sign of something really good is when it pushes and challenges me to be better. Whether it be an awesome meal out that makes me want to try something similar in my own kitchen or a great vacation that inspires me to bring some of that culture home and into my own life, it seems like the sign of a great experience is when I'm motivated to revitalize and re-energize my day to day. Reading Molly’s new book makes me want to be a better writer. The way she narrates her life through food, fun, honesty, and hilarity is totally inspiring. Like I mentioned before, the recipes are truly genius (think Shakshuka Couscous, Asian Scotch Eggs, Schnitzel Bao Buns, and Italian Rainbow Cookie Salad) and the photos are effortlessly styled to perfection, but it’s the writing that makes me want to drop all of life’s responsibilities and make homemade hummus and halva immediately. It’s what made us all fall in love with her in the first place.
While this isn't my first time to read a cookbook like others would read a novel, it is a cookbook first and the recipes should still be good. I have no doubt that the recipes are phenomenal if they are anything like the Funfetti Cake. Let me clarify, homemade Funfetti Cake. Without question, Funfetti cake was my favorite growing up. Back in the day when we had a chest freezer stocked with Costco-sized boxes of giant frozen pretzels, taquitos, and pot stickers and when I ate Chinese hot-wok from the grocery store and even packets of dried ramen for a snack, it was Funfetti cake mix that reigned supreme. And why wouldn’t it? Of course the mix with the extra sprinkles would be any child’s favorite. And since I won’t be eating grocery store chow mein anytime soon, I still turn to sprinkles in my cake mix to get my fix of 90’s nostalgia today.
Truth time – I totally didn’t even stick to the recipe in the book. I know! How could I? While the lovely cake in the book is frosted with a sweet and fluffy American buttercream to complete the cake of our 12 year old selves’ dreams, for once I had an abundance of egg whites that were destined for Swiss meringue buttercream. Oh the shame! However, you could pretty much slather the cake layers with just about anything and they would still taste amazing. Choose whatever frosting pleases you, and Enjoy!
To really mimic that boxed-cake taste, Molly uses clear imitation vanilla. I didn’t have any on hand and used regular pure vanilla extract, and it still tasted awesome. Just be not to forget the almond extract!
adapted from Molly on the Range
2 ¾ cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 large egg whites
¼ cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
¾ cup whole milk
½ cup rainbow sprinkles
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line with parchment three 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes). With the mixer running on low, add in the egg whites – one at a time. Stop the mixer and scape down the bowl. Add in the oil and extracts. Mix on medium until combined.
With the mixer on low, add in half of the dry ingredients. Once incorporated, stream in the milk. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stop the mixer and fold in the sprinkles.
Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 24 to 27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool a a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans. Flip upside down and carefully peal off the parchment. Flip right-side-up and continue to cool.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
6 large egg whites
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Whisk together the sugar and egg whites: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, add the egg whites and granulated sugar. Whisk them together briefly by hand, just until they are combined so that the egg whites don’t begin cooking by themselves.
Create a double-boiler: Fill a sauce pan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixer bowl with the egg white mixture on top to create a double-boiler. The water should be kept at a simmer but should not touch the bottom of the bowl. The double-boiler acts as indirect heat for the egg white mixture.
Heat the egg white mixture: Occasionally stirring, heat the egg white mixture until it reaches 155 to 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer. The mixture should be very hot to the touch and the sugar should have dissolved.
Make the meringue: Once the egg white mixture is hot, carefully return the bowl to the stand mixer. Fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on high speed for about 8 minutes. When done, the meringue should hold shiny, medium-stiff peaks and be cooled to room temperature. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
Add the butter: With the mixer on low, begin adding in the butter a couple tablespoons at a time. Use the paddle attachment to mix it in. The butter must be room temperature in order to incorporate properly with the meringue.
Add the vanilla: Once the butter has been mixed in, add the vanilla extract.
Mix until smooth: Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until silky smooth. This may take a few minutes, but centime to mix until light, creamy, and free from most air bubbles.
For a more in-depth look at Swiss Meringue Buttercream, click here.
I used my favorite star tip, Wilton 1b, for the piping on top. For the sprinkles, I used the Slumber Party Sprinkle Medley from Sweetapolita, as given to me by my dear friend Lyndsay of Coco Cake Land.