(makes a three-layer 17cm cake, brown butter cake)
For the cake:
340g (12oz/3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pans
285g (2 1/4 cups) plain/all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
370g (1 2/3 cups) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
About 1/2 cup strawberry jam for spreading
For the cream cheese icing:
500g (about 17.6 oz) cream cheese, chopped
250g (about 8.8 oz) unsalted butter, chopped
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Optional: natural pink food colour
Yellow skittles, to decorate
In a medium saucepan, melt butter for cake. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the milk solids turn brown and the butter smells nutty, about 4 minutes longer.
Scrape the melted butter and browned bits into a large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl in an ice water bath until the butter hardens.
Alternatively do what I did and prep the butter ahead of time and chill in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 165°C (325°F).
Butter two or three 17cm cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with baking paper.
Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess. Whisk the 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour with the baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
Scrape set brown butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla seeds and beat at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Beat in the egg yolks followed by the whole eggs. Beat in the dry ingredients and milk in 3 alternating additions, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans and bake in the center of the oven for about 30mins if doing three layers, closer to 40 minutes if only making two, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean.
Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a rack to let them cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.
Remove butter and cream cheese from the fridge 30 mins before starting icing.
Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat butter with an electric mixer on high until smooth and fluffy. Add cream cheese and beat until combined and smooth.
With the mixer on low, gradually add icing sugar, add vanilla and increase to high. Beat until light and fluffy. If doing ombré icing, take about 1/3 of the icing, split that icing into two separate bowls and tint one bowl light pink and one bowl a darker pink.
Trim any uneven tops off the cake layers. If filling cake with strawberry jam, whisk jam to remove lumps and sandwich between cake layers.
Using the white cream cheese icing, crumb coat outside of cake. Chill in fridge for at least 15 mins.
Starting at the bottom, spread the dark pink icing over the bottom third of the cake using an offset spatula.
Do the same for the middle third of the cake using the lighter pink icing, blending the two colours where they meet. Spread white icing over the top third of the cake and smooth with spatula.
If piping daisies, place leftover white icing in a piping bag with a 0.5cm round tip. Pipe 5cm rings of 1cm dots of icing and then use the tip of a mini spatula or a chopstick to smear each dot of icing to make the petals. Place a yellow skittle in the centre of each piped flower.
Chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Remove from the fridge 30 mins before serving. Can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days.