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Fat Guy

Basic cake recipe for an idiot?

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What's your basic recipe for yellow cake meant to be frosted? This isn't something I've ever focused on and I'd like to have the ability to handle the order if it ever comes up.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'd go with a classic (from the 19th century) 1-2-3-4 cake:

1 cup (230g) butter (room temp)

2 cups (400g) sugar

3 cups (360g) flour

4 eggs (room temp, separated)

Also:

1 Tbs baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt.

Beat butter until smooth.

Add sugar slowly and cream until light and fluffy (don't under mix).

Add egg yolks one at a time beating well after each.

At slow speed mix alternately the flour and milk, beginning and ending with milk.

Stir in vanilla.

In another bowl whip egg whites until stiff, but not dry.

mix about 1/2 cup of the whites into the butter mixture to lighten, then fold in the remaining whites.

Bake at 350 in two 8- or 9-inch pans for 30-35 minutes, or 1 9x13 pan for slightly longer.

Cool in the pan for a few minutes before unmolding.

Makes a moist, rich, buttery cake that isn't heavy or too sweet. For a basic "yellow" cake that's a bit thicker in texture you can use 5 eggs, but don't separate them and increase milk to 1-1/4 cups. You can also easily change the flavor by adding lemon or orange juice and zest, coconut, spices, etc.

(by the way, this recipe is in lots of books, but the above directions are paraphrased from "A Piece of Cake" by Susan Purdy)

(edited to add ingredient weights)

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I have two favorite recipes, both cultivated from the recipe box I inherited from my great grandmother. Although neither suggests pan size or temperature, I usually use two round cake pans (again, inherited from my grandmother, both with metal things that move around to help loosen the cake from the pan -- techno talk):

Cream Cake:

2 eggs, beaten light

1 cup cream

1 cup sugar

1-1/2 cup flour

1 t. baking powder

pinch of salt

1 t. whatever flavoring (vanilla, lemon extract, etc.).

No, it does not call for butter or shorteneing or any other fat. Although it doesn't specify, I mix eggs, cream and sugar, then add sifted flour, bp and salt.

Sunshine cake:

7 eggs

1 cup flour

1 cup flour

1 t cream of tartar

1 t vanilla

Beat eggs whites and cream of tartar; when partially bean add sugar. Fold in beaten yolks, vanilla and flour.

Whoops. Make that three:

Yellow Cake:

2 Cups flour

1-1/2 cups flour

3-1/2 t. baking powder

big pinch salt

1/2 cup buter

1 c. milk

1 t. vanilla

3 eggs

Beat all of it together

Per great grandma: If you are making cupcakes, fill then quite full, so that you have those nice crispy overhangs to eat first.

If you want chocolate frosting:

1 cup cream

1 cup sugar

enough cocoa so it looks right

Cook until when you stir you can sort of see the bottom of the pan. My grandmother says it was soft-ball stage (which I think is about 220? on a candy thermometer). It boils pretty high in the pan and then the bubbles sort of roil.

In all of the cake recipes, you can split the layers to make four layers, and if you use the above frosting, make a double batch because you will eat a lot while frosting. It is candy. It is heavenly. It is manna.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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I tend to prefer recipes that call for sour cream or buttermilk, as these ingredients always ensure a rich, moist crumb with a bit more flavor. I used this recipe by Gale Gand a while back for cupcakes, but I'm sure it's just as good in cake form, you may have to double it though for a layer cake.

1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 egg yolk

1 egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift the already sifted cake flour with the baking soda, baking powder and salt. Cream the butter in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until soft, then add the sugar and mix. Add the yolk, the egg and the vanilla and whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer running at low speed, add a third of the flour mixture and mix. Then add half of the sour cream and mix. Add another third of the flour and mix. Add the remaining sour cream and mix, then the remaining flour. Give it one last mix to make sure everything is blended in.Bake until firm to the touch in the center and cake tester comes out with no sticky crumb (recipe says about 25 minutes, but that's for cupcakes, so it would most likely be a bit longer for a layer cake)

Any frosting would go well with this, particularly a rich chocolate cream cheese frosting, or a simple vanilla buttercream, maybe even cut each layer horizontally and add fruit too--it's very versatile. Just my two cents! Good luck with your future cake endeavors.

:smile: -Elizabeth


-Elizabeth

Mmmmmmm chocolate.

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Forgot to mention a postscript on the last recipe I included:

If you want a white cake, separate the eggs, and add the yolks to whole eggs for a custard pie.

Be sure to beat the "bejesus" (sic) out of the whites for the cake, add the sugar and fold in the other things.

I just love old recipes. None of the precision that this century seems to require. Great grandmother also noted that "Charles (her husband) finds white cake somewhat dry for his taste. Be sure and frost heavily with choc. frosting to please the men."

Maybe I won't pass this one along to my daughters.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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Yellow Cake:

2 Cups flour

1-1/2 cups flour

3-1/2 t. baking powder

big pinch salt

1/2 cup buter

1 c. milk

1 t. vanilla

3 eggs

Beat all of it together

Would this cake be appropriate for a 9x13 pineapple upside down cake?

If so, what would the baking details be...temp, duration, etc.

Confession: when I was a teenager, I used to make pineapple upside down cake...a la Duncan Hines. The whole family raved. :blink:

Now I want to try to recapture some of the magic, but from scratch. I have found plenty of pineapple cake recipes (many with Crisco shortening though which I'd prefer to avoid), but what I want is a good yellow cake base.

Thanks.

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To tell you the truth I always trip on this issue..........'yellow' cake. I've been searching my whole life for the perfect 'yellow' cake and I can't find it. You have butter cakes, pound cakes, chiffon cakes, etc...........but when you open a baking book it's darn rare to find one labeled 'yellow'. In fact I've only found one or two over the years labeled 'yellow'. One is from Martha Stewart. I baked it...ah it's o.k. but nothing worth repeating.

I have brides ask me for yellow cakes and I have to go thru that long winded explaination and lead them toward a butter cake with the explaination that it won't be light and fluffy like a 'yellow' cake mix. If they want a fluffy yellow cake, I do make a cake mix cake for them........ I know........but I it's my job to please the people paying me.

I've baked my fair share of other cakes looking for one I can label 'yellow'. My favorite butter cake recipe is from "The Bakers Dozen" cookbook. I also really like chiffon cakes but I'm not comfortable using them in wedding cakes.

We've needed to explore this topic, in fact it should be a "search for the best of thread" topic. Anyone want to explore this further?

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There's a good recipe in Baking Illustrated for yellow cake cupcakes. I'm sure you could bake it as a cake. They're mighty tasty and QUICK to whip up because you dump all the ingredients in pretty much at once. Yeah, I know, that's counter-intuitive to a baker, but for some reason, with this recipe, it works.

But IMHO, yellow cake (whether it's butter, pound, or chiffon), is just a vehicle for the chocolate frosting! :wub:


"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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We've needed to explore this topic, in fact it should be a "search for the best of thread" topic. Anyone want to explore this further?
Ready and willing! :smile:

Cook's Illustrated has a "Rich & Tender Yellow Cake" recipe (located here is you subscribe to their website) and the KA Flour Baker's Companion has a "Classic Yellow Cake" recipe.

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We've needed to explore this topic, in fact it should be a "search for the best of thread" topic. Anyone want to explore this further?

Yes please. Where do we start?

I have been lurking on egullet for for a few months and have been searching for the perfect "yellow cake". Finally had to come out of lurkdom because this thread wasn't going any further :biggrin:

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Sunshine cake:

7 eggs

1 cup flour

1 cup flour

1 t cream of tartar

1 t vanilla

Beat eggs whites and cream of tartar; when partially bean add sugar. Fold in beaten yolks, vanilla and flour.

Whoops. Make that three:

Yellow Cake:

2 Cups flour

1-1/2 cups flour

3-1/2 t. baking powder

big pinch salt

1/2 cup buter

1 c. milk

1 t. vanilla

3 eggs

Beat all of it together

Hi Snowangel

There's a typo error for the amount of flour in these 2 recipes. Flour is listed twice. I'm thinking one of them must be sugar.


TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Bump.

Should I read the above recipes (actually, Neil's recipe in particular) to call for cake flour? Or all-purpose?


Edited by SethG (log)

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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All-purpose should work fine, but cake flour will give you a softer, more refined texture if that's what you want. For layer cakes with frosting and filling I tend to like the structure that all-purpose gives you.

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Sinclair, Thank you for coming clean on using a cake mix to make your clientele happy. While PCing in a resort, I often did the same, and it was always on wedding cakes. We used a cream cake mix for such purposes, and in the tastings the bride almost always picked the mix over a natural, scratch product. At first, I was embarrased and too ashamed to admit it to my colleagues. After a while, I realized that a certain segment of the population has had products made with mixes and artificial ingredients and flavors for so long that they are unable to discern or even appreciate the complexities and subleties of a clean product. After this realization, I was able to reconcile the fact that I was doing whatever it took to make the customer happy, and I was able to go home a happy baker.


Edited by boulak (log)

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I also really like chiffon cakes but I'm not comfortable using them in wedding cakes.

Why? I've always found that the lightness and the type of crumb in a chiffon cake makes an IDEAL wedding cake. They're easy to split, fill, and stack.....I do chiffon whenever possible.....and I always try to steer the bride to choose it.....

now carrot cake, on the other hand, is not my favorite for wedding cakes! It's so heavy.....hard to deal with! I do carrot cakes a lot....they're just not as close to my heart as chiffon.

Regarding yellow cake, I had always thought that it was your standard butter cake with more yolks and/or less whites. Hee hee....in fact, I worked in one bakery where the difference between yellow cake and white cake was a couple squirts of yellow food coloring......! :laugh:

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Why? I've always found that the lightness and the type of crumb in a chiffon cake makes an IDEAL wedding cake. They're easy to split, fill, and stack.....I do chiffon whenever possible.....and I always try to steer the bride to choose it.....

Annie! Can this be true???? I never thought of making chiffon cakes in a pan other than a chiffon cake pan. If that's the case, I'm one happy caker!


TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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All-purpose should work fine, but cake flour will give you a softer, more refined texture if that's what you want. For layer cakes with frosting and filling I tend to like the structure that all-purpose gives you.

Your 1-2-3-4 cake recipe is essentially identical to the one on the Swans Down Cake Flour box, by the way.


Edited by SethG (log)

"I don't mean to brag, I don't mean to boast;

but we like hot butter on our breakfast toast!"

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I go with nightscotsman's 1-2-3-4- cake. Been making them up (with help when I was a sprout) for around 40 years and they are always consistently gorgeous.

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I am such an occasional baker that I, too need idiot-proof recipes. I once made an assortment of yellow cakes (on the same day) & had a taste test so that I'd have a favorite when I needed it. My favorite came from The Cake Bible. (It's an odd cake, the butter, sugar and FLOUR are mixed together.)

I also like the 1-2-3-4 Cake. My version has 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (and 1/2 tsp. baking soda) and a little almond extract. I bake it in a Bundt pan & serve it w/ fresh fruit and whipped cream. As someone mentioned, buttermilk makes a nice tender crumb-this is perfect unfrosted w/ the crisp edges from using a Bundt pan.


Edited by marie-louise (log)

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Marie-louise, I like almond extract in my cakes, too. I am sort of vanilla-ed out from smelling it in everything from candles to perfume, air fresheners and shampoo!

Except French Vanilla custard Ice Cream. After all, I am human. My cat son Sneaker sometimes lets me have some of his.

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I think the phrase 'chiffon pan' is fairly synonmous with a 'angel food cake pan'-which is what the majority of people use to bake those cakes in and identify those pans as. If you were looking to buy one they'd more likely be labeled a tube pan or a ring mold. It's a bit like soda, verses pop, verses carbonated drink, verses cola, etc... OR maybe it's just me........words trip me up plenty..........it's one of those thing-a-ma-jigs.

My chiffon cakes are very light and tender and they can break down from the weight and the force of spreading dense frosting on it. Buttercream is too heavy for a chiffon to me. I'd rather have a mousse or whipped cream with chiffon.

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Buttercream is too heavy for a chiffon to me. I'd rather have a mousse or whipped cream with chiffon.

Oh, most definitely. I think the lightness of a chiffon cake begs for fillings like that. That's what i use mostly in my wedding cakes. The buttercream only goes on the outside.

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Annie! Can this be true???? I never thought of making chiffon cakes in a pan other than a chiffon cake pan. If that's the case, I'm one happy caker!

Hey TePee....

What's a chiffon cake pan? I've never heard of that. Do tell!

Wendy answered for me. A high tube pan. :smile:


TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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