Two of my cousins had their birthday toward the end of November and so our family celebrated them both together at our house with a delicious and gluttonous hot pot dinner. Instead of giving them real presents, I offered to do what I thought I did best, which was to bake them a treat. One cousin requested banana bread, which didn't turn out because I was too focused on making it "healthy" (I folded in ½ cup of flaxseed to my whole wheat, applesauce-instead-of-oil banana bread and the batter was dry, dry, dry... adding an extra banana at the end helped, but the bread still tasted bland and the last banana was distributed unevenly - Sorry Kevin!) So that left my other cousin, Joyce, to decide what sort of cake we were going to have...
Yellow? Chocolate? Cheese? Carrot? Coconut? A combination of the above? Originally she chose carrot, because it's "healthy" (*cough* No, it's not *cough*) but then jokingly asked what yellow cake was - was it like the sponge cake that you get at dim sum (馬拉糕)?
No, silly, this is yellow cake.
The cake itself was delicious, as Deb promised and it's nice to know that I can make one without Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines. I'd started baking later than I would've liked so when it was time to layer the cake everyone had already gathered around and was eager to nibble at the scraps as I smoothed out the top of the bottom layer. Everyone agreed that it reminded them of another "Chinese" sponge cake - the kind you get wrapped in parchment paper at Chinese bakeries (紙包蛋糕).
The frosting, however, was another story.
If you go back far enough in the blog, you will see that frosting is the bane of my existence. If I'm not mucking up a recipe here, then I'm being sloppy with my cake/cookie decorating there. This time it was no different.
Maybe I would've been successful if I'd just stuck with Deb's chocolate icing recipe, but Joyce had wanted something "lighter" so I figured cream cheese, sour cream and butter were out of the question, and we don't have any metal mixing bowls so I couldn't try any 7-minute frosting.
I'm sure I would've been successful at the recipe if I'd had, say, separated my eggs properly, beaten them to stiffer peaks or heated the syrup to the appropriate temperature. But I somehow managed to not do all of those things and of course, the frosting turned into a runny, marshmallow-flavoured mess. With a little time in the freezer it didn't thicken into a more frosting-like consistency, but still as I was trying to frost the cake, the frosting kept running off the cake and onto the side of the plate. I couldn't even cover my mistakes with sprinkles because I found out the hard way that my siblings like them on their ice cream!
I'm sure all of you will have better luck (and skill, and patience) and that the recipe will turn out for you... one day I will CONQUER THE BEAST!
But really, it didn't matter because the cake was still indulgent and delicious.
Yummy Yellow Layer Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes two 9" round layers (each 2" tall), one 9 × 13" rectangular pan, two 8" squares or 22-24 cupcakes (adjust cooking time accordingly).
- 1.03 L (4 cups + 2 tbsp) cake flour (not self-rising)
- 7 mL (1½ tsp) baking soda
- 5 mL (1 tsp) salt
- 250 mL (1 cup, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 500 mL (2 cups) sugar
- 10 mL (2 tsp) vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 500 mL (2 cups) buttermilk, well-shaken
White Mountain Frosting Adapted from All Recipes Makes 4 cups
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up. Or, if you have silicone cake pans, use those instead, but butter and flour always help.)
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.
- Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter or tap it on the side several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.
- 750 mL (3 cups) sugar
- 250 mL (1 cup) water
- 1 mL (¼ tsp) cream of tartar
- 3 egg whites
- 1 pinch salt
- 5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla extract
Nutrition Info (for 1/14 of both recipes, which gives a 2" slice of cake with ~3 tbsp frosting): 584 calories, 14 g fat (9 g saturated), 98 mg cholesterol, 105 g carbohydrates (74 g sugar, 1 g fibre), 8 g protein, 385 mg sodium. An excellent source of folate and vitamin K. A good source of iron and selenium. (The recipe is probably a source of these things because of a wonderful thing called enrichment.)
- Combine sugar, water and cream of tartar in saucepan. Cook until candy thermometer reaches 115°C (238°F) or until syrup spins a long thread when dripped from a spoon.
- Beat egg whites until stiff. Pour a think, slow stream of the syrup into egg whites, beating constantly until frosting stands in peaks. Stir in salt and vanilla to taste.