Make your own Django White Cake! A light and tender triple layer white cake topped with a snow white traditional boiled frosting that looks just like the one used in the tense post-dinner scene in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained
Just look at Mr. Calvin Candie up there - sorry, Monsieur Candie - casually indulging in his sweet dessert - classic southern white cake. He is completely unbothered after teasing, taunting, intimidating, and threatening the guests of his plantation over the purchase of one of his slaves, Broomhilda, the wife of Django, a freed slave on a mission to rescue her.
Do you love food themes in movies? Try making your own Django white cake at home!
What Is The Meaning of The White Cake in Django Unchained?
Though I'm not a huge fan of gratuitous violence or blood and guts in film, I am a die hard Quentin Tarantino fan. Why? I think he is brilliant with timing, building muscle-clenching tension in scenes, and using food as an important storytelling device. Watch any of his movies and you'll find a food item prominently featured in one or more scenes.
Near the climax of the movie Django Unchained, the most fascinating and atrocious character in the film - Calvin Candie - first makes mention of white cake during the uncomfortable-as-all-heck dinner scene at his plantation home. Later in the parlor, we get a beauty shot of the cakes presented on a table covered in a lace tablecloth, while Candie picks up a slice and casually balances it atop the freedom papers for Django's wife, Broomhilda, who had just been purchased from the cruel slave owner by Dr. King Schultz.
Why is the white cake in Django more important than just giving the characters something to do after the dinner concluded? There are several theories:
- The color. Obviously, given the nature of the film, the white on white on white color of the cake makes a statement by itself.
- Symbol of wealth. White cake required a special list of ingredients to keep the color of the cake and frosting as white as possible, and such ingredients were only available to those of high financial standings.
- King Shultz is a dentist. When offered a slice of white cake in Candie's library, Shultz replies with, "I don't go in for sweets, thank you." This could be a nod to his profession and is in contrast to Candie's visibly decayed teeth that we get a glimpse of in other scenes. This could also be some slight shade toward Candie himself, given Shultz's hatred of the sweetly-named slave owner.
- It anchors the scene. Tarantino does this often when using food as a storytelling device. The cake gave the characters reason to hang out in the parlor while enjoying dessert, and gave Candie further reason to peacock around his guests by flaunting his wealth.
This Recipe Vs. The Movie Version Vs. History
In the comparison photo above, I show a screenshot from the movie alongside the cake that I made. The scene showed Monsieur Candie picking up a couple of slices of white cake while holding Broomhilda's slave/freedom papers in his other hand. It's the most direct shot of the cake in the movie and I used it for inspiration while creating this recipe. You can see that other than my slices being a bit thicker than the film version (hey, we like cake) it's pretty darn close!
The defining feature of a classic white cake is that it is, well, white. This requires the removal of any ingredients that will mar the color of the cake or the frosting. Ingredients like egg yolks, dark vanilla extracts, and butter will give your cake a darker/more yellow color.
I made my cake base from scratch using only egg whites and clear almond extract. Almond was a common flavoring used in pre-Civil War times, making this a historically appropriate choice as well.
I did use butter in the cake, but not all butters are created equal! So I did a little research at first. Using this article I found, I chose to use Challenge brand butter since it is 'less yellow' than other brands. While my cake is not toooootally snow white, it certainly does match the movie version.
Now for the frosting. The idea of a fully frosted cake was a trend that came over from Europe in the mid 1800's, which jives with Django's setting of the antebellum South. While American Buttercreams use a combination of powdered sugar and softened butter, I assumed that the more readily ingredients of the time would be eggs and plain sugar, prompting my choice to use an old-fashioned boiled frosting that involves cooking a simple sugar syrup and then drizzling it onto egg whites while whipping them into fluffy stiff peaks.
This type of frosting yields a delectably light and creamy frosting that isn't sweet, so even though this Django white cake looks like it'd be a sugar bomb... it really doesn't taste that way! It's so delicious and I know you'll love it, whether you're making it for film nostalgia or just because you want a good cake!
Ingredients For Django White Cake
This is a scratch made cake using the most colorless ingredients I could find. Here's what you'll need:
- Unsalted butter - use the least yellow butter you can find. I used Challenge brand, and I've heard Walmart's Great Value brand is also quite white.
- White granulated sugar
- Egg whites
- Almond extract
- Vanilla Extract - clear, imitation versions will work best, though they don't taste as good as the real thing. I used a small amount of regular (brown) vanilla extract and found it didn't affect the color too much.
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Whole milk
Ingredients For Old-Fashioned Boiled Frosting
This cake uses a light and fluffy boiled frosting that doesn't contain any butter and comparatively little sugar than traditional buttercreams. Here's what you'll need:
- White granulated sugar
- Cream of tartar
- Egg whites
- Almond extract
To make your Django white cake the best it can be, here are some possible pitfalls to avoid when bringing it all together.
- Room Temperature - make sure your egg whites and butter are room temperature. White will whip more readily and attain more volume when room temperature. Butter needs to be room temperature to properly cream with the sugar.
- Don't overmix - as with any delicate cake, make sure to only mix until the ingredients are just combined once you add the dry ingredients to the butter, sugar, and egg whites.
- Grease those pans - you'll want the cakes to release easily from the pans to keep your layers pretty, so use butter or shortening to rub on the sides and bottom of the pan, making sure to get all the way into the corners. Coat the grease with a light dusting of flour, and then add a parchment round to the bottom. You'll be able to get your cakes out with no problem!
- Don't overbake - all ovens are different, so check your cakes early and often and pull them out as soon as they are done!
- Use a Thermometer - when cooking the sugar syrup for the frosting, make sure you use a pot-clipped candy thermometer or digital probe thermometer to ensure the mixture reaches 240F degrees, but not much hotter than that.
- Stop at stiff peaks - when you are whipping your frosting into stiff peaks, stop as soon as this state is achieved. Pick up the mixer and turn the beaters upside down. If the bit of frosting on the bottom of the beater sticks up without flopping back over, then the frosting is done. Beating further will cause the frosting to collapse and not be as fluffy!
Storage and Freezing Instructions
Storage: Because the frosting is made with raw egg-whites, Django white cake will need to be kept in the refrigerator to keep it fresh. I recommend using a locking cake dome to keep the air out of it, and this will help prevent the cake from drying out in the refrigerator.
When serving, however, I recommend removing the cake from the fridge a couple of hours before you intend to serve to let some of the chill go out of it. Room temperature cakes always have better taste and texture, in my opinion. Consume cake within 4-5 days for best quality.
Freezing: You can freeze the baked cake layers, unfrosted, before you are ready to assemble the cake. Wrap the cake layers tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months for best quality. Let the layers thaw on the counter top when ready to use. You can even frost them while the layers are still mostly frozen!
I do not recommend freezing the frosting or making it ahead of time, as the boiled frosting depends on its whipped and airy texture, and freezing it will destroy the texture and the egg whites will start to separate from the other ingredients. Instead, I recommend you make the frosting when ready to assemble the cake.
Need A Lighter Cake? This Creamsicle Angel Food Cake Is Perfection.
How Many People Does This Cake Serve?
This is a tall 8-inch cake comprised of 3 full height layers. You can get anywhere from 14-24 slices out of this cake depending on how big you slice each serving. Making standard thin 'pie slice' servings, you can easily get 14 slices of cake.
If you choose to cut your cake 'party style', you will cut a circle around the inside of the cake before cutting each section into individual slices. You will be able to get 24 smaller slices using this method. Use this guide for help.Print
Make sure you can easily locate this recipe when you're ready to get in the kitchen and make your white cake! Use the image below to Pin to your Pinterest boards. Want to share the fun with your friends and family? Try using the buttons at the top and bottom of this post to share on social media!
Thanks so much for visiting my blog!