Vanilla Butter Cake with Marzipan Buttercream

This is the layer cake version of the mega moist/buttery vanilla cupcakes that I posted this summer! I’ve altered the ratios just slightly from the cupcakes here in order to provide the stability in the batter necessary to hold up a full layer, and it took a zillion test runs, but I’m proud to say that it retains the lusciousness that I was so pleased with in those cupcakes. It’s perfectly vanilla-y and just sooo… whatever the opposite is of those wildly airy grocery store sheet cakes. (Not (!) that there isn’t a time and place for those.) But Eggpop and I share a particular love of two important things: rom coms and very dense cake.

And such a hard earned cake is worthy of an equally lush frosting, no?

Marzipan buttercream is not an idea that I can take credit for, even though I’d like to since, as we’ve already established, my body is made up of 1/2 marzipan around the holidays. Alaina, who I met at my very first Molly on the Range book tour event, made the cutest ever cake earlier this year and added the marzipan butter from MOTR (which is essentially your basic ingredients for marzipan, blanched almonds and sugar, blended into oblivion until silky and spreadable) to the frosting. Brilliant!!!!!! Right??? I immediately knew I had to try it with my favorite go-to buttercream and the results were as I expected: otherworldly. Almondy, buttery, sweet, the best. You know I love a good rustic nut butter frosting, but using a blanched nut butter here makes this frosting so smooth and dreamy. I mean, marzipan on its own is obviously the best thing ever, but how do you make the best thing ever even better? Add butter. Duhhh.

And obviously if you are going to bestow the name “marzipan” onto any type of frosting, you are going to use great butter for it. Land O Lakes® European Style Unsalted Butter is what I’m using here and its flavor is so good and pure that if there’s any butter who deserves to be mashed up with marzipan, it is this. And then, rather than making the full marzipan butter recipe (which you can find in Alaina’s post and which also makes a great little gift when put in a cute jar) before adding it to my buttercream, I’ve rearranged the ingredients a bit to make things a little more straightforward and to take it easy on your food processor since it’s already getting quite a workout making the blanched almond butter. 

The decorations here are inspired by embroidery again, just like these cookies! I referenced these awesome trees and then here is a video that goes more in depth with the decorating process:

vanilla butter cake with marzipan buttercream

Makes one 3-layer 8” cake


3 1/2 c (450g) all-purpose flour

1 tb baking powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/4 c (300g) heavy cream, room temperature

1/2 c (120g) sour cream, room temperature

1 c (225g) Land O Lakes® European Style Unsalted Butter, room temperature

1/2 c (100g) refined coconut oil, soft but not melted

2 1/4 c (450g) sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tb vanilla bean paste or extract

1/2 tsp almond extract, optional



1 c (128g) blanched almonds

1 c (225g) Land O Lakes® European Style Unsalted Butter, room temperature

5 c (600g) powdered sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

1 tsp almond extract, optional

3 tb (45g) heavy cream


To make the cake layers: preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease and line the bottoms of three 8” cake pans with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder, and then lightly stir in the salt and set aside. in a large measuring cup, whisk together the heavy cream and sour cream and set aside. 

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, coconut oil, and sugar on medium high for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add the vanilla and almond extract, if using. Reduce the mixer to medium low and add the dry mixture and cream mixture in 3 alternating additions, mixing until just combined. Distribute the batter evenly between the cake pans and spread it out evenly.

Bake until the  tops of the cakes are thinking about starting to turn brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs on it; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes and try your darnedest not to let it overbake. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

To make the buttercream: 

First, make the almond butter. In a high powered food processor, blend the almonds, scraping the sides occasionally, until very creamy and spreadable, about 5-10 minutes.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and almond butter until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar, and then mix in the salt, vanilla, almond extract, and heavy cream. Mix until creamy.

To frost the cake, level the top of the layers and then stack them up with a layer of frosting in between. Frost all over and decorate as desired (See video!)! Enjoy!


Thank you so much to Land O’Lakes for providing me with the butter and heavy cream for all of my cake baking adventures and for sponsoring this post. Their European style butter is so gosh darn rich and perfect for buttercream.

Videography by Paul Hoplin!

life, please give me lemons

surviving in the dining hall as of late has included this sad excuse for my favorite summery pasta. what i do is i hijack the plain noodles {that are at the salad bar for all of the picky eater kids}, pile on the tomatoes, and then shake on almost too much salt and pepper. if i were at home, i'd squeeze a lemon over it and then sprinkle on some freshly harvested basil. but alas lemons don't exist here, and the wall staff herb garden has yet to sprout. life is so tough.

the camp food pyramid

{smiley face salad says cheerio!}
things i would kill for a fresh herb right now:
-a unicorn
-three sea monsters
-twelve zombies
{i only picked fictional things because i don't like killing, but the point is, do you know how sad a tomato is without its basil?} i'll keep the kvetching to a minimum though because it is actually quite easy to eat healthily in the dining hall. all it takes is one glance at the meatloaf and you've never seen me hightail it to a salad bar faster. i'm averaging a zillion oranges a day, and broccoli has somehow wiggled its way into my liking/accepting. what really keeps me from starving though is the spray can cheese and wendy's. the spray can cheese because it is not a camp experience until you have it hidden in your bunk and the wendy's because it is around the corner from the bar library that the staff members go to late at night. by far the best culinary experience is on special days when my campers have cooking class! today they made me hamentashen and i don't think i have ever been more desperate for a homemade somethin somethin. oh, it was so good, it was levain good. there's a rumor they're making ice cream soon. i can't wait!

...but seriously, who will help me plant an herb garden near the rock wall?


that time my stomach exploded.

this is not another april fool's joke.
in the 48 hours that mum was in town, we actually ate all of this:

every good explosion begins with poached eggs.
these ones on focaccia with spinach at
on broadway between 89th and 90th

dessert was a macarella
{macarella = nutella sandwiched between two coconut macaroons least we tried to keep kosher for passover?}

and as soon as we got down to the village,
we decided that the hot weather called for some
on bleecker and cornelia
red velvet cake yogurt and taro yogurt to be exact.
with strawbees and mochi, of course.

and i kid you not,
we literally sat on the bench outside of 
on bleecker accross from phileo
finishing off our yogurt,
so that we wouldn't have to bring it in with us to order a hot cross bun.
it was easter, after all.
...and as mentioned before, 
it was a definite room temperature cross bun. 
delicious and doughy and yeasty and tasty nonetheless. 
{i wanted a bread bunny too. but i'm allergic to bunnies}

schnitzel @ seasonal.
on 58th between 6th and 7th
more on this later.
but, duh, we friggen had schnitzel.

day two: the poached eggs were on english muffins this time at
on amsterdam and 79th
i had a lorraine omelet. 
they know their omelets, those nice people.

ok i swear we didn't eat all of these bomboloni from
on 68th and columbus
they were for the percussion ensemble concert dress rehearsal.
i only ate one. or seven. no really, just two.
and i think i made the alice tully stage hands love me.

dinner number one at
on amsterdam and 73rd
made me feel like i was in a cute vacation town.
we had a crispy focaccia sandwich with prosciutto and robiola cheese
that was superbly tangy...

...and gnocchi in a shape i've never seen gnocchi in before.
with fabulous out of this world red sauce.

dinner number two at
at east 12th and 1st
was at the golden section of mum's stay for good reason.
more on this later.

day three: poached eggs on scones the customary trip to 
at 73rd and columbus
where mum always gets coffee.
when will she learn?

this actually happened.

and that doesn't even include the fresh baked cookie bars that mum brought for me,
or all of the bread baskets,
or the amuse bouches...

seriously, we deserve a medal.
or a jenny craig membership.
{worth it.... soooooo worth it}

stay tuned for more details on a few of these for restaurant challenge posts!