Easter is here and we have little to no plans, which is exactly how I like it. Nice and low-key with a quiet dinner at home. But just because we’re keeping things chill doesn’t mean we can’t have a lavish dessert. Well, maybe “lavish” isn’t the word for this particular cake. Loud and obnoxiously joyous is a little more fitting. But before we get to the vibrant decor, let’s talk about the cake itself. This is a Malted Snack Cake with Salted Vanilla Buttercream. The cake is spiked with chocolate Ovaltine powder and topped with a simple vanilla American buttercream dyed in a shouty, springy array of colors. The cake is finished with Whopper Easter eggs and cape gooseberries for a little extra whimsy. Sound good? Good! Let’s make it!
This cake starts the same way most do, by preheating the oven to 350 and greasing a cake pan. The pan we’re using today is a 9×13″ pan, which does result in a fairly large cake. But this cake keeps very well in the fridge and is true to its name. A square of this cake makes a great snack. We ate it quite happily over the course of a week. Once the pan is ready, we can start tackling the cake batter.
This Malted Snack Cake comes together in a snap. But it’s not a one-bowl affair, sadly. But you can make it by hand, hand mixer, or stand mixer. Start by sifting your flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. I used cake and pastry flour but all-purpose will do the trick as well. I prefer the lighter, softer crumb cake and pastry flour gives the finished cake but AP flour will not ruin anything by any means.
Once the dry ingredients are ready to go, it times to tackle the wet. Start with some softened, unsalted butter, and add your sugar and chocolate Ovaltine powder. I’m using Ovaltine because malted milk powder was nowhere to be found. Because Ovaltine contains sugar, I compensated by reducing the sugar in the cake. So if you can find malted milk powder, up the sugar in the cake by a quarter cup. Cream the sugar and Ovaltine into the butter until a cohesive mixture forms. Next, add your eggs one at a time. Wait for each egg to be fully integrated before adding more. Mix in the milk, sour cream, and vanilla, and your wet ingredients are good to go.
Regardless of what gadget you were using up to this point, ditch it. We’re going to fold the dry ingredients into the wet and I think the best way to do this is by hand. Add your dry ingredients in thirds. Make sure each addition is no longer visible before adding the next third. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the surface using an offset spatula. Bake the cake for an hour or until a toothpick can be inserted in the center and removed cleanly. Leave the cake to cool to room temperature before frosting. Buttercream and hot cake don’t mix.
Now, let’s talk buttercream. The frosting you see on this cake is American buttercream, which means it contains butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and a whisper of cream. That’s it! As with most recipes that contain few ingredients, execution is key. Make sure your butter is soft but not on the verge of melting. We want it cool but malleable. I like to break my butter up a bit by giving it a whisk before sifting in the sugar. This brings me to my next point, sift your sugar. Powdered sugar is prone to clumping. And clumpy sugar does not lead to a smooth and airy frosting. And finally, use a hand or stand mixer, we really want to beat that butter into submission and the sugar can be a pain in the butter to integrate, so you are much better off having a motor handle it.
When the buttercream is ready and the cake is cool enough to decorate, it’s up to you how to proceed. You could simply slather the frosting onto the top of the cake and cover it with sprinkles. That is by far the simplest approach. Or you could take the cake out of the pan and encase it in frosting complete with piped borders. You will most definitely need more frosting for that enterprise, so I would double the recipe. The frosting recipe below gives you just enough to cover the top of the cake. I’m not a huge frosting fan, so this recipe reflects that.
If you would like to make multi-color swirls, like the ones in the picture, split the frosting into four equal batches. Dye one with a pure white gel, the next with a pink one, then a yellow one, and finally a blue one. Pipe each color onto a piece of plastic wrap and bundle the plastic around the frosting. Trim one edge of the plastic wrap and place the bundle inside a piping bag with the trimmed end facing down. And there you go, pipe away to your heart’s content.
I sort of went into a fugue state when decorating this cake, so I can’t provide much guidance there. But apparently, my subconscious’s philosophy was “You can never have too many swirls”. If I’m being honest, the cape gooseberries are doing a lot of the aesthetic heavy lifting. But all in all, I’m pretty pleased with how the look of this cake turned out. It just goes to show you that sometimes planning is overrated. That’s not generally true when it comes to baking but it is in this instance.
And that’s everything you need to know about this Malted Snack Cake with Salted Vanilla Buttercream. A divine spring-forward dessert you can decorate in a multitude of ways. That’s the magic of a sheet cake, it’s a delicious blank canvas.
Malted Snack Cake with Salted Vanilla Buttercream
- 1 9×13" cake pan
- 1 hand or stand mixer
Malted Snack Cake
- 3 ¾ cups cake and pastry flour **
- 2¼ tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1½ tsp salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ cup chocolate Ovaltine powder
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 1½ cups milk I used 2%
- ¾ cup sour cream
Salted Vanilla Buttercream
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened but still cool
- 3 cups powdered sugar sifted
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- white color gel optional
- peach color gel optional
- blue cornflower color gel optional
- yellow color gel optional
- 1 cup cape gooseberries
- 1 cup Whopper Easter eggs
- edible gold glitter for sprinkling
For the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 cake pan with butter and set it aside.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
- In a separate bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the sugar and Ovaltine powder together with the butter until a cohesive mixture forms.
- Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, waiting for each egg to become fully integrated before adding another. Beat in the vanilla, sour cream, and milk.
- Add a third of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Fold the flour mixture in using a rubber spatula. Once no streaks remain, add the next third and repeat. Repeat with the remaining third and pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the top of the batter with an offset spatula.
- Transfer the cake to the oven and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick can be inserted in the center of the cake and removed cleanly. Set the cake aside to cool. Let cool for a minimum of three hours.
For the Frosting
- Place the butter in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip the butter briefly with a hand or stand mixer until fluffy.
- Sift in the powdered sugar and add the salt. Beat until a smooth, thick frosting forms. Add the cream and vanilla and beat until very smooth and airy.
- Divide the frosting into quarters. Dye the first quarter white, the second peach, the third blue, and the fourth yellow. Pipe each color in lines onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form the plastic wrap into a bundle and trim one of the ends. Place the bundle in a large piping bag fitted with a piping tip, trimmed end down.
- Pipe the frosting onto the cake. Finish the cake with Whopper Easter eggs, cape gooseberries, and a sprinkling of gold glitter. Slice and serve.