Vanilla cake with swiss meringue buttercream, fresh strawberries, white chocolate feathers, and edible gold.
Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Spray four 6-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray, line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper, and spray again. Set aside.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk and stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the stand mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, oil, and sugar on medium-high for 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, to the stand mixer bowl and beat on medium until well incorporated.
Turn the mixer on low and add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until fully incorporated.
Pour in the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Mix on medium for another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Evenly distribute the cake batter among the four cake pans and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
Remove cakes from the oven and let cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto cooling racks to cool completely. Wrap cakes in plastic wrap and place them into the freezer to chill for 1-2 hours before decorating them later.
On the stovetop, place a medium saucepan filled ⅓ of the way with water over medium heat, bring to a simmer to use as a double boiler.
In a stand mixer bowl (or large glass or metal mixing bowl), add egg whites and sugar mix with a whisk to combine.
Lower the heat on the stove to low, then place the mixer bowl over simmering water. Whisk constantly to prevent eggs from overcooking, continue for 3-5 minutes.
Continue to whisk until the mixture has reached 160 °F on your candy thermometer, or until the sugar has dissolved between your fingertips.
Immediately remove from the heat and transfer to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment and add the salt. Begin to mix on medium-high speed to create a light meringue for 10 minutes.
Mix until the meringue is room temperature and has a stiff peak.
Next, lower the mixer speed to low and add the butter a few cubes at a time until all the butter is incorporated into the meringue.
Then whisk on medium speed until the mixture is silky smooth and has doubled in size. It'll look like freshly whipped butter.
With a rubber spatula, add vanilla extract and food coloring and mix by hand until incorporated.
Finally, place the buttercream into the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to set the buttercream before using it.
In a small microwavable mixing bowl, melt together mostly white, pink, red, and yellow candy melts in 30-second increments. Mix until you have a coral color.
On a baking tray lined with parchment paper, place a small spoonful of the coral candy melts onto the paper and quickly pull the large offset spatula downwards, creating a feather. Continue to the next coral spoonful and brush down, creating another feather.
Make about 36-48 feathers (just in case a few break). Set aside to dry for 15-20 minutes. To remove the paper's feathers, use the offset spatula to scrape off the dried coral feathers.
Remove the cake layers from the freezer and unwrap the cake layers. Next, use a serrated knife to cut off the cakes' dome to make the layers flat and even.
Add a small amount of Swiss Meringue Buttercream onto the center of the cake board. Layer one cake layer, cut side up onto the cake board. Pipe ⅔ cup of buttercream and use an offset spatula to smooth the buttercream layer. Add fresh strawberries on top of the buttercream.
Place another cake layer cut side down over the top. Repeat the process for two more layers — Crumb coat with buttercream and freeze for 30 minutes.
Add a thicker layer of buttercream to the cold cake. Use an offset spatula and cake scraper to make the sides and the top as smooth as possible.
Mix the gold luster dust and clear alcohol like vodka or lemon extract to create a paint consistency.
Carefully paint the edges of each feather with edible gold.
Use a paintbrush to splatter the cake with edible gold.
With the offset spatula, spread a small amount of buttercream on the back of the feathers and place the feather onto the cake's top edge.
Continue this process until the feathers create a cascading effect from the top and work your way down to complete the cake.
Serve the cake at room temperature and use a hot knife to cut and get clean slices.