Sunday, January 15, 2006

The cake that fought me all the way

Sour Cream Cake
The Ugly Binder, from the internet, Recipezaar

NOTE: This cake was actually called White Almond Sour Cream Wedding Cake and called for white cake, 8 egg whites instead of 6 whole eggs and instead of 3 teaspoons of vanilla, use 2 teaspoons vanilla and 2 teaspoons almond extract. This is the way I made it. I used Duncan Hines Yellow Cake mix for the yellow layer and Duncan Hines Fudge Cake mix for the chocolate layer.

2 18-ounce boxes of cake mix
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 2/3 cups water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sour cream
3 teaspoons vanilla
6 eggs

Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together with a wire whisk. (I sifted the cake mix first.) Add the remaining ingredients and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into greased and floured cake pans, filling each pan about half full. Lightly tap cake pans on counter to bring air bubbles to top. Cut through batter with a toothpick or tip of a knife to break large bubbles. Bake in preheated 325° F oven until cake tests done. Baking time varies according to the size and depth of pans being used.

This recipe makes: One 14" round and one 6" round or One 16" round or One 12" round and one 10" round or One 12 X 18" sheet cake or One 12" round and one 8" round and one 6" round Two 9" squares. Half the recipe makes: Two 8" rounds or Two 6" rounds and 6 cupcakes. I made two 11x15" layers and I had a lot of extra batter with each layer yet I think if I had only made half the recipe for each layer, they might have been too thin.

Easy Buttercream
The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Copyright 2003

5 1/3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 to 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ to 1/3 cup milk or cream
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, and salt until fluffy. Add about half the confectioners’ sugar and beat slowly until well blended. Add the vanilla and milk alternately until they’ve been completely incorporated, and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. To increase the yield, if you want some frosting left over to use in decorating, change the ingredient amounts to ½ cup butter, ½ cup shortening, approximately 6 cups of sugar, and up to ½ cup milk or cream.

Yield: enough frosting for an 8 or 9-inch layer cake, a 9x13 inch cake or 24 cupcakes. I tripled the recipe for my 11x15" 2 layers cake.

This cake did not want to happen. First, my oven died the first time I tried to bake the yellow layer. All I got was a pan of broiled cake batter. Into the trash that went. Then after my oven was fixed and both layers were baked, only two days before the party, I was rushed to decorate it. I wanted something different between the layers than just frosting so I tried a recipe from my Hershey's cookbook for Cocoa Cream Filling. There was no description and no other recipe referenced it but I thought it might be what I wanted. It had butter, cocoa, light cream, granulated sugar, vanilla and powdered sugar in it. I don't know what I expected and maybe I did something wrong but what I ended up with was a pot of chocolate syrup basically. I added softened butter and lots more powdered sugar and ended up with a tasty chocolate buttercream filling. I have no idea how much butter and sugar I added so I didn't add the recipe here.

Then I was going to try Hershey's recipe for Fluffy White Frosting, a variation of the frosting that starts with a milk and flour paste that I usually like but this one called for light cream and the paste was so lumpy I decided to ditch it and use the recipe I used on my Halloween cupcakes and I just didn't like it this time. I thought I cooked the paste thoroughly but it tasted flour-y. Sooooooooo, I tossed that and I ended up making the Easy Buttercream from King Arthur's. It turned out delicious but I was rushed to decorate the cake and my lettering was way off.

Let me tell you how I feel about baking birthday cakes. It's all about the taste for me. I have limited artistic talent so I don't attempt fancy designs. I could have done a gorgeous Elmo, freehand or I could have used an Elmo cake pan but red coloring (or any dark coloring) just isn't something that tastes good on a cake, in my opinion. I know they make a supposedly flavorless red dye but I just won't go there. And those edible pictures you can put on a cake are only edible in the sense that they won't kill you. This cake was actually light blue but it didn't show up very well in the picture. And you can't see that it said 'Happy 2nd Birthday' . Elmo is standing in the way.

And yes, I use cake mix when I make large cakes. Why? Because it's easier to doctor up cake mixes or seems that way anyway. Most people who make large cakes professionally use the mixes and I want a tried and true recipe when I'm tackling a larger cake. Last year I did use a scratch recipe from for the chocolate layer and it was great but it was a lot more work. What I liked about this recipe is that I was more likely to end up with two similar layers, texture wise, even with two different flavors. This is a dense cake and that's what I like. I know some people prefer light and fluffy and light and fluffy cake is great but I prefer moist and dense myself.

So, in the end, it turned out great (my widening butt is proof of that - I can't stop eating the leftovers) but what a PITA the process was this time.


Randi said...

ryn( regarding your note): I discussed the egg thing with robin and we decided that since the eggs are farm fresh, it would probably be ok. Also, I put the eggs in hot water to bring them to room temp( and I'd like to think that tempers them somewhat). After they are whipped with the sugar, I add the hot espresso. That gives me comfort too. I have a surpressed immune system( from medication for arthritis) and I felt ok eating them.

Randi said...

and, i/m computer illiterate. I have no idea what firefox is or how to fix it.

Randi said...

the cake looks good. For a while, I was very active on the cake mix doctors website. I've baked a lot of cakes from those books and in my opinion for wedding cakes or childrens bday cakes, the "premeasured ingredients" cakes are far superior. For my wedding, I made 300 cupcakes. I used all doctored up mixes and I FILLED and frosted them all( with help). I made a cupcake tree out of them. It was gorgeous. I think I'm going to post about it. ( thanks for reminding me about my it).

Tricia said...

Looks like the perfect cake for the occasion! Did you get any pictures of him with chocolate smeared all over his face, or is he over that at 2? :^)

Anonymous said...

Hi Paula--It looks great! Sorry it was such a difficult process, though!

The Cookbook Junkie said...

I don't have any pictures of him with the cake because he didn't eat it. He wouldn't even get close to it when we sang Happy Birthday. But he keeps asking me to bring up the picture of 'Elmo Cake' on the computer now.