Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Let Them Eat Yellow Cake

The saying "it's a piece of cake" means that something is easy. Not just easy, easier than a piece of cake. What I want to know is what about making a cake is easy? Eating cake--totally doable. But what it takes (at least for me) to go from beginning to end with a layer cake cannot be described as easy. I am a disaster with layer cakes. I tried to list and describe my many failures in the baking department (specifically cake baking), but the list is too long and the stories too complicated. I've had frosting all over the counter and broken cake layers and never once a beautiful, perfectly frosted, cake that's cooked through. But I do love a mess, so here we go. Megan's birthday is Saturday. There was no way I wasn't going to make her a cake. She's a great roommate, among the best. She always loves the stuff I cook. And by god, she is going to have a yellow cake with chocolate frosting if it's the last thing I do. To achieve this goal, I knew I had to do something I so rarely do. Something I find difficult. I would have to follow the directions.

When the directions said to sift the flour, I sifted the flour. (That's how much I love you Megan, I sifted flour for you.) I used two separate bowls (ones I still haven't cleaned). I even rotated the cakes in the oven halfway through. I never do that.

Except I'm not perfect. And neither is this cake. When the directions said to cut out parchment and spray the cake pans, I ignored it because we don't have parchment or Pam. I thought butter would do the trick. Well, it didn't. Tapping and shaking and gravity only worked on one of the layers. Right now, the last cake layer is sitting upside down on the kitchen counter, still attached to the cake pan. I might try singing songs to coax it onto the plate, but I'm not too optimistic at this point about not breaking the second layer into several pieces. However, the redeeming factor with cakes is that enough frosting and no one will ever know.

Yellow Cake: from Joy of Baking 6 large egg yolks 1 cup milk 2 teaspoons vanilla 3 cups flour, sifted 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1 T and 1 t baking powder 3/4 teapsoons salt 12 tablespoons unsalted butter Frosting: Betty Crocker chocolate frosting knife Preheat oven to 350. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, vanilla and 1/4 cup of milk. According to, the difference between white cakes and yellow cakes is that yellow cakes us yolks and white cakes use the entire egg. Fascinating. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Add softened butter and blend with an electric mixer on low increasing to high for up to a minute. Add the rest of the milk and mix again, starting on low and increasing speed. For easy removal post-baking, cut out pieces of parchment paper to fit into cake pans, spray pans and paper with Pam. Gradually add in the egg mixture, beating until the batter is smooth. With a spatula, transfer batter to two 9-inch round cake pans. Even out the batter by giving the pans a good shake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate cakes halfway through. Allow layers to cool before removing from pans. When the cakes are cooled, I use a knife to run around the edge of the cake between the cake and the pan. Using a serving plate, place the plate upside down on top of the cake pan, with the top of the plate facing the cake. Carefully turn the pan and plate over in your hands so that the plate is right side up and the pan is upside down. Tap on the bottom of the cake pan to loosen the cake. Do this to the other cake. Ice the cake (I have no advice to give here). Eat the cake.


Sarah Baker said...

I have also attempted the dreaded layer cake. Once it was for Christmas. The cake was sloped like Mt. Everest on the top. Ask Lindsey. She was there. :)

Maria said...

I guess you don't want my mom's recipe for a 7+ layer German cake. Cake sounds really good right about now.

Megan said...

THANK YOU, ROOMIE!!!! seriously. thanks so much.

Jess said...

you're wearing an apron!!! so cute! and A for effort with the cake. the best thing about cake (well, one of the best things) is that it still tastes good even if it's a crumbly, falling-apart mess.

Lainey Seyler said...

my mom MADE that apron from two dish towels she bought at anthropologie. isn't it awesome!