Cookaholics Bulletin Board

Cookaholics Bulletin Board

Shop, cook, eat, drink, post, repeat.
 
It is currently Fri Jul 20, 2018 9:57 am

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 24 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Butter Cake 101: All-Purpose Yellow Cake
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:50 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:18 pm
Posts: 1244
For this, the first Cookaholics tutorial, I'm going to walk you through baking a 2-layer yellow cake.

First, a little background. I wrote a Treatise on Non-Chocolate Butter Cakes that I encourage you to read, but here is the synopsis:
a) Measure accurately
b) Use the right ingredients at the correct temperature
c) Utilize the hi-ratio method
d) Use the right equipment
e) Make a pleasing sacrifice unto the baking gods

I'm just kidding about e. Mostly.

Before we go about measuring ingredients I want to briefly discuss equipment. Here are the cake pans I used for this demo:
Image

They are inexpensive Wilton cake pans. My absolute favorite cake pans are made by Chicago Metallic. The construction is similar but they are heavier. I've seen ads for the $30 goldtouch cake pans and think they are quite overpriced but hey, it's your money.

You will notice that these pans do not nest into each other. This means the sides of the baked cakes will be straight. If you want to decorate your cake all fancy-like, this is quite helpful. This does not mean you can't make a good cake with traditional nesting cake pans. It is just easier to frost the cakes made with these pans and will save you from swearing like a drunken sailor. I ain't sayin', I'm just sayin'.

If you want to go all out, get some magi-cake strips. These insulate the sides of the pan and prevent the outsides from cooking faster than the center. This results in a more even rise and, in my opinion, a slightly moister cake. You wet the strips and wrap them around the sides of the cake pan.

Mixers: I used a 12-year-old Cuisinart 7-Speed mixer for this task. You can use a stand mixer or any hand mixer. I've included directions for both types of mixers. I don't recommend trying to do this by hand.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottoms of two 8 or 9-inch cake pans with parchment or waxed paper (if using 8-inch pans they must be 2 inches deep or you can use 3 pans). I do not bother with greasing and flouring. I've not had any problems with cakes releasing as long as I've lined the pans, which to me is easier than all that grease and flour business. If you want to have a safety net, spray the lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Next, let's talk about ingredients. You can weigh (or measure) all of the dry ingrdients into one bowl. The ingredient list is below, and I'll talk you through the key points of each one:

2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour (Swan’s Down or Softasilk)
1 3/4 cups (12 ounces) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder (I use Rumford)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened and 1/4 cup vegetable oil OR 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup whole or 2% milk
4 whole eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Measure the dry ingredients into bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. I highly encourage you to weigh the ingredients, but if you don't have a scale, measure the flour by fluffing it up, then spooning it lightly into the measuring cup and using a straight edge to level off the flour even with the top of the cup. (Make sure you are using a dry measuring cup.) You can use all purpose flour but the cake will be tougher and drier. Cake flour is highly refined and it's what is found in cake mix. It's not expensive and if my mom can get it in Wishek, North Dakota, I'm sure you can find it too. I've had good results with both Swans Down and Softasilk.

Make sure your baking powder is not stale. If you're not sure, mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in a cup of water. It should immediately fizz and bubble like a science experiment. If not, your baking powder is stale. Buy some fresh stuff, and be sure to use double-acting baking powder (which is the most commonly available). I use Rumford, which is non-aluminum, since I am quite sensitive to the aluminum taste (must be all those fillings that come with having a sweet tooth). Other good brands are Calumet and Clabber Girl.

Cane or beet granulated sugar work equally well. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together and set the bowl aside.

Make sure the milk and eggs are at room temperature or the batter may curdle. My experience is that curdled batters generate more air pockets (holes) than non-curdled batters. I bring the eggs and milk to room temperature by cracking the eggs into the milk in a microwave-safe bowl and heating for 30 seconds. Whisk the room temperature eggs, milk and vanilla together. Put 1/2 cup of this mixture in a cup or small bowl. Set both aside.

The butter should be soft, but not melted. The ideal temp is 65 degrees F, but you can also tell by looking. The butter should be soft enough to bend but should still hold its shape when bent. Like so:
Image
That butter is on the warm edge of room temp. It would be better if it wasn't quite that greasy-looking.

If you use a combo of butter and vegetable oil, the cake will be softer if refrigerated than if you use butter alone. This is just a matter of textural preference and all butter is just dandy. It's what I did for this cake.

Now it's time to mix! Add butter (and oil if using) and all but the reserved 1/2 cup of the milk/egg mixture to dry ingredients. The reason you keep some out is to better develop the gluten in the batter. When it's too liquidy it's not getting the same kind of whipping it gets when it's just moist.

Beat at low speed until dry ingredients are moistened, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high (stand mixer) or high (hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate mixture and add structure. Turn mixer off and scrape sides and bottom of bowl. You can see the batter gets quite thick and almost ribbony:
Image

That mixture is slightly curdled. I made one batch doing everything wrong (cold ingredients, adding all liquid at once, etc.) so I could illustrate what I mean (it really, really hurt to do that). Here is what it looks like when slightly curdled:
Image
You can see it looks almost gritty. This is because cake batter is an emulsion, and the goal is to keep it smooth and stable (like mayo). Unlike mayo, if this breaks a little you can still use it.

This is what a smooth, non-curdled batter looks like:
Image

Now, after beating for 1 1/2 minutes, add remaining milk/egg mixture and beat at medium (or high with hand mixer) for an additional 30 seconds. Scrape bowl again.

Divide batter evenly into baking pans. I admit, I use a scale to make sure they are even. OCD, anyone? Tap pans lightly on counter to remove any large air bubbles. (I forgot to do this and you'll see the results later).

Put pans in oven on middle rack and bake until light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with only a few loose crumbs, about 25 minutes for layer cakes. Due to variations in ovens, check at least 5 minutes before the stated time. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then invert onto cooling rack.

I baked one cake with Magic Strips and one without. Can you guess which is which?
Image
The one at left had no strips. It had a higher dome in the middle and also got a lot browner. The dome is bad because if you are going to make a layer cake, it's going to tilt. You can't make up for the dome with icing, either. Trust me on that one. You need to cut the tops off the cake to make them even, like so:
Image
I started at the low edge, used a serrated knife, and turned the cake as I marked the line with the knife. Then I kept turning the cake, cutting in a little further as I went. It does take some practice, but at least cut off the big hump in the center if you don't feel up to doing the turning/cutting thing.
Since the batter was curdled and I didn't tap the pans on the counter, there were a lot more holes in it:
Image

Now you're ready for frosting! Which is another tutorial for another day. Here's how this cake turned out. I used a white chocolate ganache for the icing. The non-magic strip cake is on top:
Image.

Feel free to ask as many questions as you'd like! I'm happy to answer them all or refer you to someone else if I don't know the answer (like what to do about altitudes above 3500 feet).


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Butter Cake 101: All-Purpose Yellow Cake
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:58 pm 
Offline

Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:18 pm
Posts: 1244
Here is just the recipe and instructions:

Basic Yellow Cake

2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour (Swan’s Down or Softasilk)
1 3/4 cups (12 ounces) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder (I use Rumford)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and 1/4 cup vegetable oil OR 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup whole or 2% milk
4 whole eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 8 or 9-inch pans with parchment (if using 8-inch pans they must be 2 inches deep or use 3 pans); spray with nonstick cooking spray. To make cupcakes, line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Measure dry ingredients into bowl of stand mixer or a large bowl. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together room temperature milk, eggs and vanilla.

Add butter (and oil if using) and all but 1/2 cup of the milk/egg mixture to dry ingredients.

Beat at low speed until dry ingredients are moistened, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate mixture and add structure (if using a hand mixer use high speed). Turn mixer off and scrape sides and bottom of bowl.

Add remaining milk/egg mixture and beat at medium (or high) speed for an additional 30 seconds. Scrape bowl again.

Divide batter evenly into baking pans (if making cupcakes, fill each about 2/3 full. Depending on the size of the muffin tin, this may make more than 12 cupcakes). Tap pans lightly on counter to remove any large air bubbles. Optionally, wrap pans with magi-cake strips.

Put pans in oven on middle rack and bake until light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with only a few loose crumbs, about 25 minutes for layer cakes, 15-20 minutes for cupcakes. Due to variations in ovens, check at least 5 minutes before the stated time. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then invert onto cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Butter Cake 101: All-Purpose Yellow Cake
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:48 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2009 7:50 pm
Posts: 2062
CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE! Thanks Darcie, now I'm hungry.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Butter Cake 101: All-Purpose Yellow Cake
PostPosted: Sun Mar 06, 2011 10:23 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:33 pm
Posts: 954
Location: Northern California
Yippee! Thanks, Darcie. Can you e-mail me some of that cake...like now?


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Butter Cake 101: All-Purpose Yellow Cake
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 1:14 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:37 pm
Posts: 3404
Location: Telluride, CO
Darcie wrote:
I'm happy to answer them all or refer you to someone else if I don't know the answer (like what to do about altitudes above 3500 feet).

Excellent beginning Darcie! Thank you.

I can help on the altitude Qs...

Amy


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Butter Cake 101: All-Purpose Yellow Cake
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:51 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 4:38 pm
Posts: 536
Beautiful post Darcie! Thanks.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Butter Cake 101: All-Purpose Yellow Cake
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:39 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Dec 22, 2008 11:01 am
Posts: 1287
Location: Denver
Nicely done....thanks Darcie!
ilene

_________________
Ilene


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Butter Cake 101: All-Purpose Yellow Cake
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:03 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 8:19 am
Posts: 215
Location: Just outside of Philadelphia PA
CAAAAAKE!!! 8-)

_________________
Martha...no, not that Martha

I dream a dream of home...Where there’s coffee on the table...And kindness in your hand- Lyle Lovett


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Butter Cake 101: All-Purpose Yellow Cake
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:04 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 6:12 pm
Posts: 264
Lovely Darcie, thanks! Can you speak a bit about how to best get those beautiful slices? My cakes are always nice until I start to slice, and then the frosting seems to smear through the slice, it tilts, etc. I don't know if it's my knife or technique, or both.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 Post subject: Re: Butter Cake 101: All-Purpose Yellow Cake
PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:25 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2011 2:47 pm
Posts: 388
Two thumbs up!! Now mentally revisiting cake pans. I'm still using the cheap a$$ things I've had for twenty plus years. Don't tell Tim.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 24 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
Template made by DEVPPL/ThatBigForum