Those small acts of kindness can make us all feel helpful in this difficult time. While the most important thing you can do is stay home, I, too wanted to thank our healthcare workers — so I did, literally, on a cake for the first episode of People's Pantry: Calming Cakes.
The cake in this tutorial video — which shows you how to create an ombre effect and how to use a stencil on a cake with buttercream — was donated to Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside, N.Y. All of the future desserts made for Calming Cakes will also be given to frontline workers during the pandemic.
Watch the preview above and see the full episode on People TV, then follow the recipe below to recreate it at home to gift to your local hospital.
Ombre 'Thank You' Cake
4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 lbs. powdered sugar
6-7 Tbsp. heavy cream
3 (6-inch) prepared cake layers
Blue gel food coloring
Acrylic letter stencil (such as Lacupella's calligraphy set)
1. Beat butter on high for 2 minutes. Add vanilla and salt; beat until incorporated. With mixer on low, add sugar gradually. Add heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until frosting is desired consistency.
2. Turn mixer to high and beat for 4 minutes until buttercream turns from light yellow to white. Turn mixer back to low and beat for 10 minutes to get rid of any air bubbles.
3. Spread a small dab of frosting in center of a cake plate. Place 1 cake layer on plate. Spread top with frosting. Repeat with remaining layers. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake to form a crumb coat. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes. Reserve ½ cup white frosting; set aside.
4. Meanwhile, add 1 drop of food coloring to remaining frosting, and mix until incorporated. Starting from the base of the cake, pipe or spread frosting about ⅓ way up the side. Add 2 more drops of food coloring to remaining frosting, and mix until incorporated. Pipe or spread frosting above the lightest blue, another 1⅓ way up the cake. Add 2 more drops of food coloring to remaining frosting, and mix until incorporated. Spread over top and finish covering the sides with the darkest blue frosting. Smooth top and sides of cake with a bench scraper, leaving a jagged edge on top of cake. Chill in fridge for 20 minutes.
5. Dip a sharp knife in a cup of hot water, and cut the top of the frosting off to create a sharp edge.
6. Arrange stencil letters to spell "thank you" and tape together. Place stencil on top of cold cake. Spread a thin layer of reserved white frosting over stencil. Remove, and serve.
Makes: 1 (6-inch) cake