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Cinnamon Swirl Layer Cake

Cinnamon Swirl Layer Cake with fluffy vanilla buttercream

It’s not a proper birthday party without cake. So even though I was throwing a brunch birthday party, I decided there needed to be cake.

As for what kind of cake is appropriate for a brunch party, I’d argue any kind, really, but it’d be nice if that cake fit with the brunch theme. I thought about a citrus cake of some sort, but ultimately went with cinnamon swirl (basically a cinnamon roll in cake form).

That, my friends, is what you call a good decision.

Cinnamon Swirl Layer Cake with fluffy vanilla buttercream

Layers of light, fluffy butter cake are swirled with cinnamon sugar, creating a ribbon of cinnamon visible when you slice into it. The cinnamon flavor is not overpowering, rather perfectly complimentary of the sweet vanilla cake and buttercream.

I filled and frosted the cake with a fluffy vanilla buttercream, made with European-style cultured butter to give the frosting a richer depth of flavor and an almost cream cheese-like undertone without actually using cream cheese (because, sorry dude, I am not a fan of cream cheese frosting). Substituting a bit of mascarpone for some of the butter would have a similar result, adding another layer of flavor and helping to cut the cloying sweetness.

Oh winter buttercream, how I love thee! Your sweetness is so much more subtle that your summertime counterpart, where warmer temperatures and overly soft butter require so much more sugar to acheive a frostable consistency. If you are making this (or any) frosted cake in the summertime, I’d advise substituting at least one stick of butter with shortening to help stabilize the frosting.

Cinnamon Swirl Layer Cake decorated with fresh flowers

We decorated the cake simply, with fresh flowers leftover from our arrangements on a smooth layer of aqua blue buttercream to match the blog (no easy feat). If you’re trying to get a specific color, you can do a test run on a small bowl of frosting or milk if you have to, but either way, go slow… you can always add more food coloring, but never less. Ultimately I ended up using about 1 drop of Americolor Teal, a few drops of Sky Blue, as well as a generous squirt of Bright White (to offset the yellow of the butter) to achieve the (nearly) perfect color.

When I frosted the cake the frosting took on an almost watercolor-like appearance, entirely by accident, but the result is beautiful. And no, it’s not perfect, but this was perhaps the most level cake I’ve ever assembled (which was a lucky break since stacking two tiers on non-level cakes could have ended very badly).