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Wendy DeBord

Yellow and white cakes

236 posts in this topic

I, too, have been dreaming of the perfect white/yellow cake recipe. I use a butter cake currently and while it does taste delicious, especially straight out of the oven, it is a pretty firm cake when it is cool. When I use this cake for a wedding cake, I make sure it will be served at room temperature. I know what you mean about cake mixes having that moist and fluffy texture that people like. But even so, there is that cake mix aftertaste which ruins it.

Speaking of the "2-step method", that looks alot like the method Rose Levy Beranbaum uses in The Cake Bible for her butter cakes. I used to use the recipe for the All Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake and I forget why I stopped using it but yes, it was quite fluffy.

As far as a light, not too sweet frosting, I think either an Italian or Swiss Meringue buttercream is best. I've never had a "too sweet" complaint.

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Lorea, still feel like testing recipes for white cakes?

This is the best one I've got to date (although I don't have the one you like-and I'm wondering if you'd share it thru PM? please). I happen to like it alot, but in taste tests with family and neighbors it still lost to a cake mix. But it was the best of the scratch whites I came across. It freezes alright and didn't get too firm after refridgeration like a butter cake does. It's not quite as stark white as ideal but.......it's got yolks so-thats what you get.

White cake:

1c. butter

1 1/2 c. sugar

Cream together. Then add:

4 egg yolks

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Fold in these dry ingredients:

2 2/3 c. cake flour

2 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

After you have that batter -you alternate folding in whipped egg white with milk to finish the cake.

4 egg whites whipped firm (BUT NOT TOO STIFF or dry)

1 c. whole milk

Makes 2 9" round cakes. Bake in a 350f oven. I use pan spray and line my pans.

Some people like to add a little almond extract to get the cake mix flavor... but if you hate the way mixes taste artifical this won't help.

I came across another white cake I liked also but it came in second over the one posted above. I can't post that later if wanted.

It's like I never get far enough experimenting. I think I'm ready to stay with this one and tweek it (which I usually don't do-instead I try another recipe). I've had this discussion before with others at another site. When I make a mix I doctor it with instant pudding (which are better then buying mixes that already have the pudding in them). BUT the point I'm trying to lead to is I beleive that adding a instant pudding mix or instant ready whip (in the box) might help the texture of a scratch cake.

Claire, when I do a whip cream frosting like yours I do:

1 qt, heavy cream

1 sm pkg instant pudding

3/4 c. sugar

splash vanilla

Just thought I'd mention it because it would save the hassle of cooking the pudding. Although this version tastes more like whip cream.

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This will really be a challenge, I've spent years looking for this perfect recipe and I can't match a cake mix on this.

Does anyone have one that they know is great? If so will you post it?

If no one has a recipe they think is great maybe we should mention which recipes we've already made from which books or people and what our results were in the past.??? What do you think, will that help us narrow down the search before we begin baking?

Any chance Karen is reading????? Can you get us started with the things you've learned from the bakers dozen? Did you guys find a 'best of' for this?...if so, any chance you'd post it here?

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Ok, I'll start. This one comes partially from another forum, resulting from a similar "in search of..." threads and also using much of the technique from the May 1995 Cooks Illustrated issue (that said, I don't know if it's legal to put in the eGRA). Not sure it's "the best" but it has wowed anyone who's had it. Sorry it's not in weights.

1 cup whole milk, room temp

6 egg whites, room temp

2 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix together and set aside.

3 cups sifted cake flour (never tested with AP)

2 oz instant vanilla pudding mix

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cup sugar

12 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

In mixer, mix dry ingredients to combine. Add butter and beat at low speed until resembles moist crumbs. Then add all but half cup of liquid ingredients and beat a medium for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining liqued and beat another 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat another 20 seconds. (The timing is specifically from Cooks Illustrated and I've never varied from it.)

Bake in 2 9" pans at 350.

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That looks interesting Kevin........I've often thought the pudding would help in a scratch white cake, but I didn't know how to work it into a recipe like this. My Mother used to use cake mixes and instant pudding way back before anyone knew about this combo. My best 'mix' white cake version is white cake mix and instant dream whip combo, I got from her. I've never had dream whip alone to know how it varies from pudding. But the reason I mention this is doesn't the yellow color from the pudding effect the cakes finished color? If so maybe the dream whip would be a good replacement? just guessing.......

I'm excited to try this out, thanks Kevin!

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Hi...this is one from the Cook's Talk Forum at Fine Cooking that is in the "Tried & True" recipes and that people have liked. I have not tried it. There is another recipe that I have somewhere in one of my folders that has white chocolate in it -- I think it is from a well known baker, but can't seem to remember who!!

Recipe from Cook's Talk Forum

3 and 1/4 cups sifted pastry or cake flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup butter or margarine

2 cups superfine granulated sugar

1 and 1/2 cups ice water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional) (I used 1/2 teasp. almond extract)

1/2 cup (about 4) egg whites

Sift the flour with the salt and baking powder. Cream the butter or margarine and gradually add 1 and 1/2 cups of the sugar. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Combine ice water and flavorings. Add sifted dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the ice water, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Beat until smooth, but do not overbeat. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and beat until stiff and glossy. Very carefully fold this merringue into the batter, folding just until no traces of white can be seen. Turn batter into 2 9-inch round layer pans that have been buttered and floured. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cool in pans for 5 minutes before turning out onto racks. Fill and frost as desired.

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The vanilla pudding addition amounts to 17% of the weight of the flour, so the yellow from the pudding doesn't make a noticeable impact on the whiteness of the cake. Of course, I've never baked with/without to see the actual impact, but it's good and white.

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Joni, the main theory behind the Cooks Illustrated prep was that beating the whites, which most recipes call for, results in a cake full of holes. You say you haven't tried the recipe you posted...will you to see if you like it?

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This is my recipe for:

Snow White Cake

3 cups all purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 egg whites, room temp.

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter, softened (very soft!)

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. (Make sure to sift, you don't want lumps.)

3. In a large mixing bowl starting at low and progressing to high speed, beat egg whites, adding cream of tartar as they start to froth, beat until stiff but not dry. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

4. In the large mixing bowl at medium speed, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and almond extract. At low speed beat in dry ingredients alternately with milk, starting and ending with flour mixture, scraping bowl frequently.

5. By hand, stir in about 1/4 of the egg whites; then fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain.

6. Pour into pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toohpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely.

This recipe makes good cupcakes too. Bake them about 20 minutes.

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This cake is absolutely gorgeous. I always thought white cakes were insipid and too sweet till I tasted this one. Everyone who's tasted it loves it too, and my babysitter almost swooned when she had the cookies and cream version. It throws together really easily, and the only problem was what to do with the yolks (before i learned pastry cream).

White Cake

12 ¼ oz. / 350 g. cake flour

1 T plus 1 tsp. baking powder

6 large egg whites (6 ½ oz/ 180 g.)

12 oz. whole milk

8 oz. salted butter, softened

14 oz./ 400 g. sugar

1 T vanilla

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar in bowl. Mix briefly to combine.

Add butter and mix on 1 till butter is broken up and looks like small peas. Add 9 oz. of the milk, increase speed to 2, and beat 1 ½ min.

Combine remaining milk, egg whites, and vanilla, and add to the batter in three separate additions, mixing 15 seconds at 2 between each addition.

Pour into 9” cake pans and bake at 350 till test done.

For Cookies and Cream cake, fold 1 c. crushed oreos into batter after mixing.


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The problem with most white cakes, IMHO, is their texture. I did a white cake bake-off on Cook's talk a few years ago, and the best one I came up with then was the ice water white cake already posted. I do think it is possible to do better than this, though, and lately I've been playing around with subbing cornstarch for some of the flour (yes, even cake flour), and oil for part of the butter, all in an attempt to soften the texture. Results so far are promising, but I haven't really settled on a final recipe.

My entry to this thread would be RLB's standard white cake from the Cake Bible (not the white chocolate one), with half the butter replaced by an equal volume of vegetable oil, and about 1/4 cup of the flour replaced with cornstarch.

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There is another recipe that I have somewhere in one of my folders that has white chocolate in it -- I think it is from a well known baker, but can't seem to remember who!!

I think that would be Rose Levy Berenbaum's white chocolate whisper cake from the "Cake Bible". I haven't made many white cakes, but I really like that recipe. You don't really taste the white chocolate, but it adds a wonderful richness of flavor. If there weren't so many nominated recipes already, I would post Rose's.

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Goodness! So many recipes, where do we start??? I agree that RLB's white chocolate cake is very good, very fine crumbs with a hint of white chocolate aftertaste.


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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Just some thoughts/opinions off the top of my head........first-I've baked the ice-water cake from cookstalk (I've baked several items from there that were excellent), but I believe my own white cake version beats theirs. So if it's o.k. I can eliminate that one.

I'm also thinking we should eliminate RBL's white choc. whisper cake from this catagory-because it's a white chocolate cake, not a straight white cake. Opinions on that? Do you agree or disagree?

If you agree with me so far, that gets us down to 4 recipes to test:

1. KThulls cake with the pudding

2. mkFradin's

3. Trishes cake

4. Samaki's version of RBL's standard white cake. DO you want to summit that one? (If you post this, can you include RBL's metric too for people that work in weights?)

So we have 3 or 4 cakes to begin with. I suppose it would be best if we each made as many as possible to compare notes. So if everyone picks 1 or 2 cakes to test we should be able to narrow down this batch of trials. So do what you can and report back.

OH also -no ingredient substitutions, if you don't have all the exact ingredients then chose a different recipe to test....otherwise it becomes too confusing to compare notes.

Side note:

Samaki: you said you've been playing around testing but are you saying that RBL's cake still beats where your experiments have lead? Replacing part of the butter with oil has been something I talked about with others for a while now with both white and yellow cakes. I tend to agree it makes for a better cake after refridgeration. Have you ever played with using an instant pudding verses the cornstarch to effect texture? If so what were your results?

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Sure I can post the recipe with my latest modifications. What I meant to say was that this was my best result so far. I do still think it's possible to do better, though. I haven't tried adding pudding mix. Actually I have a strong aversion to pudding mixes, so I'll sit that version out.

I agree with dropping the white chocolate cake, however much I like it, for the same reason you suggest.

OK, here is the RLB cake with my modifications:

4 1/2 (4.75 ounces, or 135 grams) egg whites

1 cup (8.5 ounces or 242 grams ) whole milk

2 1/4 tsp. (9 grams) vanilla

2 3/4 cups (9.6 ounces or 275 grams) sifted cake flour

1/4 cup (1 ounce or 30 grams) sifted corn starch

1 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces or 300 grams) sugar

1 T. +1 tsp. (19.5 grams) baking powder

3/4 tsp (5 grams) salt

6 T. (3 ounces or 85 grams) unsalted butter

6 T. (3 ounces or 85 grams) vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans.

In a medium bowl, lightly combine the egg whites, 1/4 cup of milk, and the vanilla.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter, oil, and remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low speed until the dry iingredients are moistened.Increase to medium speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg ixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.

Scrape batter into prepared pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly touched. If it starts shrinking away from the sides of the pan before you remove it from the oven it is overbaked! Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn them out onto a rack and cool completely.

Wrap cooled cakes well and let them sit overnight. They have a far better texture and flavor the day after they are baked.

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Samaki, do you refridgerate overnight or leave on the counter?

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I usually just leave it on the counter. Sometimes I'll freeze. Come to think of it, I rarely refrigerate unfrosted cakes, for no particular reason.

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I will do Samaki's RLB cake w/ modifications and mkFradin's. :smile:

Do we have a common judgement criteria?

This is going to be fun! :laugh:

edit to ask if we can divide these recipes?

Edited by bleudauvergne (log)

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A question...when you use "vegetable oil"....do you use canola oil or corn oil..or does it matter?

Edited by Joni (log)

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Your right bleudauvergne, we should establish the criteria for judgement. Some people on other threads naturaly did this and taking their lead we can do the same.

How about a 1-5 rating for these 3 criterias:

1. Over all taste

2. Texture, moisture, crumb.

3. Other: could be used to rate appearance or something that doesn't fit nicely into the first two judgements. You need to make a note and tell us what your "other" issue is.

4. Then we should add the total numbers from above that you gave and thats your final score on this item. So if you give something 5 for taste, 3 for moisture and a 4 for cracked top-your final score would be 12.

BUT on second thought-I think this will become too complicated. Personally I think it makes the most sense to keep things simple and just pick one number 1-5 to represent your over all judgement. We are looking for the best recipe, not building the best recipe (right now at least) so we don't need to know details. It's an eliminating and antying up system.

Anyone disagree?

As to dividing up the recipes-lets just do that naturally, people will come and go as they want anyway. I hope that we can get as many people as possible to try each recipe and post their results because as I've learned so far everyone has a different opinion on what is best. So the more people that bake and give opinions the more balanced the judgements will be. Ideally everyone would bake each recipe....but that's too much to ask for. I'll attempt to bake them all so I can bring everyones opinion together from my experience.

Joni-I use both oils interchangably. I've never detected a difference when used in a cake recipe.

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May I divide these recipes in half to make smaller cakes? :smile:

I understand where your coming from wanting to divide a recipe so you don't have waste. Honestly I don't think it's a good idea at all, I think you won't be able to judge these recipes properly. When you work with too little or too much in your bowl it does effect quality. Your more likely to over-mix or under-mix, which to a cake recipe, technique can make or break it.

Any possiblity you could share your over flow with a neighbor? I've done that and they LOVED getting a gift and wanted to participate in rating them too. Otherwise most cakes freeze very well.

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Ok ...having never been a huge fan of RLB's cakes,I'm going to skip that one for now (maybe it's just me, but they always seem a little dry).

Will try Trish's recipe and kthull's.

(then I can have chocolate cakes AND white cakes in the freezer ;)

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May I divide these recipes in half to make smaller cakes?   :smile:

I understand where your coming from wanting to divide a recipe so you don't have waste. Honestly I don't think it's a good idea at all, I think you won't be able to judge these recipes properly. When you work with too little or too much in your bowl it does effect quality. Your more likely to over-mix or under-mix, which to a cake recipe, technique can make or break it.

Any possiblity you could share your over flow with a neighbor? I've done that and they LOVED getting a gift and wanted to participate in rating them too. Otherwise most cakes freeze very well.

Yes, I completely understand, some recipes divide well, and some do not, like cakes. My neighbors have two children so I'm sure they'll love them.

I am going to go to get the good eggs (click to see last saturday's lunch where I compared market eggs) for these cakes at the Wednesday night market tomorrow.

Edited by bleudauvergne (log)

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      David Ross lives in Spokane, but works a one-hour plane ride away. When he's not tending to his day job -- or commuting -- he writes about food and reviews restaurants. He is on the eGullet Society hosting team.
    • By JohnT
      I have been asked to make Chinese Bow Tie desserts for a function. However, I have never made them, but using Mr Google, there are a number of different recipes out there. Does anybody have a decent recipe which is tried and tested? - these are for deep-fried pastry which are then soaked in sugar syrup.
    • By shain
      Makes 40 cookies, 2 loaves. 
      50-60 g very aromatic olive oil
      80 g honey 
      120 to 150 g sugar (I use 120 because I like it only gently sweet) 
      2 eggs
      2 teaspoons of fine lemon zest, from apx 1 lemon 
      230 g flour 
      1 teaspoon salt 
      1 teaspoon baking powder 
      75 g lightly toasted peeled pistachios
      50 g lightly toasted almonds (you can replace some with pine nuts) 
      Optional: a little rosemary or anise seed
      Optional: more olive oil for brushing
      Heat oven to 170 deg C.
      In mixer (or by hand), mix oil, honey, sugar, lemon, egg and if desired, the optional spices - until uniform. 
      Separately mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. 
      Add flour mixture to mixer bowel with liquids and fold until uniform. Dough will be sticky and quite stiff. Don't knead or over mix. 
      Add nuts and fold until well dispersed. 
      On a parchment lined baking tray, create two even loaves of dough. 
      With moist hands, shape each to be rectangular and somewhat flat - apx 2cm heigh, 6cm wide and 25cm long. 
      Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden and baked throughout, yet somewhat soft and sliceable. Rotate pan if needed for even baking. 
      Remove from tray and let chill slightly or completely. 
      Using a sharp serrated knife, gently slice to thin 1/2 cm thick cookies. Each loaf should yield 20 slices. 
      Lay slices on tray and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes until complelty dry and lightly golden. 
      Brush with extra olive oil, if desired. This will and more olive flavor. 
      Let chill completely before removing from tray. 
      Cookies keep well in a closed container and are best served with desert wines or herbal tea. 
    • By Tennessee Cowboy
      I'd like help from anyone on making the best Pistachio Ice cream.  This forum is a continuation of a conversation I started in my "introduction" post, which you can see at 
      I recently made Pistachio ice cream using the Jeni's Ice Cream Cookbook.  I love Pistachio ice cream, so I've launched an experiment to find the best recipe.  I am going to try two basic approaches:  The Modernist Cookbook gelato, which uses no cream at all, and ice cream; I'm also experimenting with two brands of pistachio paste and starting with pistachios and no paste.  Lisa Shock and other People who commented on the earlier thread said that the key is to start with the best Pistachio Paste.    
      Any advice is appreciated.  Here is where I am now:  I purchased a brand of pistachio paste through nuts.com named "Love 'n Bake."  When it arrived, it was 1/2 pistachios and 1/2 sugar and olive oil.   I purchased a second batch through Amazon from FiddleyFarms; it is 100% pistachios.  I bought raw pistachios through nuts.com.  The only raw ones were from California.  If anyone has advice on using the MC recipe or on best approaches to ice cream with this ingredient I'd appreciate them.  I will report progress on my experiment in this forum.
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