And we’re back! My kitchen is unpacked, the cabinets are stocked, and the oven has been fired up! It feels good to get back to baking and the timing worked out perfectly for Jesse’s arrival back to the States and a pretty important birthday.
Two weeks ago Jesse said goodbye to his 20′s and hello to his 30′s. Unfortunately, I was in the US and he was still in China. Since I didn’t get to make him a cake on his actual birthday, I knew I would I have to have one waiting for him upon his arrival in San Diego. I usually try and make him a fun over-the-top cake (including last years Cookies and Cream Oreo Cake) but this year with everything going on, I just couldn’t get together any over-the-top ideas. So I decided to go basic and classic.
My best friend, Michelle, and I have a running joke that Yellow Cake and Chocolate Frosting is the official cake for boys. It seems like almost all of the boys we know list in their top 3 favorite cakes, if not their all-time favorite. This holds true for Jesse, too. “Mmmm,” he muffled through a half-full mouth, “One of my favorite cakes.”
It works out perfectly for me because I’ve been meaning to add a Classic Yellow Cake to my Baking Basics series. Everyone needs a good yellow cake recipe under their belt, and I this is mine. I love, love, love this recipe. The recipe doesn’t call for extra steps, such as folding in egg whites or using extra egg yolks, so it comes together pretty quickly. And the result is a buttery sweet cake with a soft, tender crumb that is still dense enough to work as a layer cake.
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Adjust rack to lower-middle position. Prepare 2 8 or 9-inch cake pans by greasing pans, fitting bottoms with parchments paper, greasing parchment paper, and flouring pans.
In a liquid measuring cup, beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla until combine. Divide mixture by pouring all but 1 cup into a separate glass bowl or liquid measuring cup. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl (or standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment), combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed*, add butter one piece at a time and mix until the flour beings to look like wet sand and butter chunks are no bigger than a pea. Increase speed to medium and beat for 30 to 40 seconds after the all the butter is added. Pour in 1 cup of the egg mixture and mix on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down sides of the bowl then add the remaining egg mixture. Mix on medium to medium-high speed for about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of the bowl again and then beat for another 15 seconds. (It’s OK if the batter looks slightly curdled).
Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then carefully flip out on to a wire rack (use a knife to loosen edges of the cake if necessary). Cool cake completely before frosting.
*If you do not have a standing mixer, use a pastry blender to combine the butter and flour mixture. Then use a hand mixer to combine the liquid ingredients.
Source: Cook’s Country, October 2011
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium bowl combine the melted butter and cocoa powder and stir until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar in small increments, alternating with splashes of milk. Once all of the powdered sugar has been incorporated, add the vanilla and beat on medium-high speed for about a minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. If frosting is too soft, add a little more powdered sugar. If frosting is too stiff, add a little more milk (a teaspoon at a time).
*This amount made *just enough* to frost and fill a 2 layer 8-inch cake. If you like more frosting, you can increase the recipe by 1 1/2 or even double it.