Thursday, August 23, 2007

Best yellow cake I ever made!
--All-Purpose Buttery Yellow Cake

All-Purpose Buttery Yellow Cake
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Copyright 2006

2 ¼ cups cake flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups whole milk, at room temperature I used 2%

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 340 degrees. Lightly coat two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans or 1 9x13-inch cake pan with vegetable oil spray, then line the bottoms with parchment paper. I used a disposable 1/2-sheetcake pan. I actually made 1 1/2 times this recipe and had some batter left over. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.*
2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in the vanilla. *
3. Reduce the speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture. Beat in half of the milk. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining milk, and finally the remaining flour mixture.*
I mixed the dry ingredients and sugar together. Then I beat in the softened butter until it was like sand. Then I mixed the eggs, milk and vanilla together and added some of that and mixed until smooth. Then I added the rest of the wet ingredients.
4. Give the batter a final stir using a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and smooth the top. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake(s) comes out with a few crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes for the sheet cake, rotating the pan(s) halfway through baking.
5. Let the cake(s) cool in the pan(s) on wire racks for 10 minutes. Run a paring knife around the edge of the cake(s) to loosen, then flip out onto the racks. Flip the cake(s) upright, discard the parchment, and let cool completely before frosting 1 to 2 hours.

Okay so this, the cake in the picture, isn't the best yellow cake I've ever made. The cake in the picture is the cake I made from the extra batter I had. It was still very good but since it baked on the bottom rack of the oven, in a glass pan, it got a bit browner on the bottom and didn't rise as evenly as the primary cake, the cake I made to say farewell to a co-worker. Now that cake was awesome. AWESOME! Cooked just perfectly, so tender and light, I couldn't believe it. I wish I had a picture of a piece of that cake to show you.

I had a killer chocolate cake recipe that I made for the last farewell party but when I asked the co-worker who was leaving this time what she preferred, she picked yellow cake. So I checked the site I found the chocolate cake recipe on and I swear, I could read the recipes one day but I got distracted and when I came back the next day you had to register to see the recipes and that just ticked me off.

So I searched around more online and saw that Nic over at Baking Bites used this unusual (to me) method of mixing a cake, where she mixed the butter with the dry ingredients first. Something about coating the flour with the fat makes a fluffier more tender cake. I was intrigued and I trust her yet I was a bit hesitant to try such a new idea (to me) on a large cake that I was making for a group.

Then I saw that America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook used this method for their white cake. So I took the leap and used it on their yellow cake (although, as you can see, this cake was not that yellow). OMG - the texture was wonderful. It reminded me of something that came out of a good bakery - a GREAT bakery. It had a fine crumb and it was very light and fluffy. It had baked until it was just done, perfectly. Almost everyone ate two or more pieces and they wouldn't let me set the leftovers out for the rest of the floor and insisted I put the cover on it and save it for just our team.

I really like making large cakes in those disposable lidded shallow sheetcake pans that I pick up at the local Amish store. They're not deep so it's easier to control the baking. They're easier to decorate and transport. I think cake stays moister in those pans too.

I hope I can duplicate this cake someday. I wasn't very scientific about measuring the ingredients and I had to do the math (not my strong point) to make 1 1/2 times this recipe in order to make sure I had enough to fill the pan.

Blast From The Past: Classic Yellow Cake from October 2005. One of the many yellow cake recipes I've tried that were good but no where near as good as this.

Question of the Day: Do you prefer homemade or bakery cakes? Do you have a favorite bakery?


Anonymous said...

I prefer home made cakes. Oh, and especially home made frosting.

sandy said...

Well this looks delicious!! Love the photograph too.


Bunny_lover said...

I like both, it just depends. My favorite bakery is back in PA in Ephrata. Rebecca Heavenly Goodies on Main St. They had the best cakes!

Anonymous said...

Homemade cakes, of course. This one looks really good -- I'll have to give that method a try.

Anonymous said...

Homemade are always better, I guess. I don't frequent "real bakeries", just the supermarket ones. But I love cake. I'll take either, thanks. Yours looks and sounds absolutely delicious. I'd like to try that method.


Randi said...

I have this cookbook so I'm going to check out this recipe. The method you used is called reverse creaming and it was introduced by Rose Levy Berenbaum. She wrote a Masters thesis on it as well. I'm a cake girl, homeade all the way!! Although I currently have a peppridge farms coconut cake in my fridge. I cut it in small pieces and it lasts for while( all those chemicals in there!!!!)

Red Dirt Mummy said...

That looks fabulous - and you just have to love coloured sprinkles! I prefer home-made cakes - which is lucky since the bakery we have up here buys everything in so it's not all that nice anyway.

amarisa74 said...

I made this for my son's bday after testing it out. I used 1/2 the vanilla the second time...too much I felt in the was tasty and moist. I made them into cupcakes and was told that they were better than sprinkles cupcakes. I used a classic buttercream and they were scrumptious!

Anonymous said...

I want to try this recipe as soon as the weather cools off enough to do baking again.

BTW, I've been told that the cookbook says 2 3/4 cups flour, not 2 1/4 cups flour. Hopefully someone can look this up?

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Unknown said...

the cake was pretty good but not the best.

Multi-tasking Mommy said...

Hi there! I came across your blog while doing a google for Light and Fluffy Cake recipes!

I just have to try this.

I am SO a homemade cake person. I like the taste of the boxed cakes, but prefer to make my own.

I haven't ever found a good white cake recipe that I like. They all turn out too dense and often dry.

I will definitely give this one a try!

I have an amazing chocolate cake recipe if you want it!

Angela said...

I stumbled across your blog and recipe yesterday when looking for a birthday cake recipe to make for my sister's birthday. I had actually made one earlier, but it was very dense and heavy.

Anyway, I made this cake according to original directions and not your adjustments (bad habit of not reading everything before starting). But it turned out great. Tasted like it was made at a bakery. I used a whipped frosting and added fresh raspberries.

I have some pics and would like to have uploaded them but can't.

If you want to make a cake that is sure to please, then this is the one. Thanks for listing it.

Angela said...

By the way, I wrapped the outside of the cake pan in wet terry cloth strips (baker's secret I guess) and it came out perfectly level without that hump in the middle. Just thought I would pass that along, as that was the first time I had heard/tried that trick.

The Cookbook Junkie said...

I never made this recipe according to the directions so who knows, maybe my method had nothing to do with how well it turned out for me.

Coincidentally, last weekend I picked up a 1947 recipe pamphlet from Swan's Down Cake Flour, Calamut Baking Powder and Baker's Chocolate. It had a recipe for a cake using this reverse creaming method, extolling it's virtues. So the method has been around for a while yet I guess it never caught on in a big way.

Anonymous said...

I really like this recipe. It does call for 2 3/4 cups cake flour, not 2 1/4 cups. The Cook's Illustrated Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake that they came out with in 2008 is also good. I made them side by side and tested other recipes too. These two were our favorites and I liked them both equally! My husband liked the CI one a little better. It is a little fluffier but this one has such a nice flavor and crumb too.