I've been itching to make a cake since I got new cake pans for Christmas. I got the opportunity yesterday when I attempted to redeem myself after my previous effort at a cake from scratch. While this one turned out considerably better than the last cake, it could still use some help. The flavor was great. My company loved it, as did I, but I think other things could be improved. For one, I think I over cooked it. For another, I'd like to get a fluffier, lighter result. This one was fairly dense. Oh, well. Practice makes perfect, right?
I've made other kinds of cakes — bundt, coffee, apple, etc. — but very few basic cakes. By way of various leads, I found this cake recipe from Paula Deen at Food Network.
Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 3 cups sifted self-rising flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done. Cool in pans 5 to 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto cooling racks. Cool completely and spread cake layers with your favorite frosting to make a 3-layer cake.
Yield: 3 layer cakes
My notes: I halved this and and wanted a whiter cake, so I separated the eggs. I used three egg whites instead of 2 whole eggs. I also ended up using closer to 3/4 milk — 1/4 cup more than called for — because the batter looked far too thick. I need to play with the recipe a bit and/or make the full amount to see if it comes out better. Also, I did not have self-rising flour, so I used a basic substitution. For each cup of flour, you add 1-1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/8 tsp salt (there are slight variations in these measurements depending on the source).
As I mentioned in my notes, I halved the recipe since the original made three 9" cake layers and I did NOT need that much cake around my house. Dwight and I were having company over, so I wanted enough for the four of us, without a lot of leftovers. I was surprised to see that I only got one 6" layer out of half of the recipe. Hm, not sure how that works.
I got the idea for the assembly of the cake here (seriously, check out this link—the cake is very cool and her pics are gorgeous). I love the rainbow effect she achieved, but decided to go with a winter theme instead and stick with blue and white. The cake looks so cool when you cut into it, but the process is really simple.
Because I used just two colors, I put the batter into a measuring bowl to see how much I had, then measured out half to tint with blue gel food coloring. (I also tinted white decorator sugar with liquid food coloring.) Once the blue half was mixed, I greased and floured my pan and started alternating the batter.
I made a basic buttercream frosting with no precise measurements, but here's a good one.
Easy Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1b. 10X powdered sugar
1-3 teaspoons milk, half and half or cream
- Using a mixer, cream softened butter and vanilla until smooth.
- Add sugar gradually, allowing butter and sugar to cream together before adding more.
- If you want your frosting a little creamier, add a teaspoon of milk at a time and beat on high until you get the right texture.
- Then, just use icing colors to tint the frosting the color of your choice.
By the way, isn't this the most gorgeous cake stand? My mom got it for me for... who knows what, but I just love it. The base is silver, and clearly needs to be polished. I love the hobnail edge. She also got me the adorable glasses from my eggnog post. I love beautiful, old dishes and this blog has given me so many opportunities to use them – I love it!
Click on any photo to enlarge.