The Quest For The Best Yellow Cake
When you bake a birthday cake the chances are it is going to be a yellow cake. I like this simple cake because it doesn’t require much decoration. I am terrible at decorating cakes. I should keep practicing my cake decoration skills with the same passion I put into making the very best yellow cake.
I made three yellow cake recipes last week. One on Thursday and two on Friday. Like any trial and error situations in my kitchen, I am both frustrated and curious when a recipe does not work out. Because I enjoy the process of baking, the curiosity wins out over the frustration. Making mistakes and bad outcomes are how I learn.
The first attempt at making the best yellow cake ever was a fail. This recipe involved reverse creaming. Reverse creaming is a method that calls for first combining your dry ingredients. Once you have dry ingredients in your mixing bowl, slowly add pieces of room temperature butter until you create a sandy texture.
This an effective and easy recipe, but unlike beginning with butter and sugar, timing is much more important. If you over-mix this batter the gluten combines to form a more elastic batter. I overmixed my batter so my cake was high around the edges, pulling too far away from the pan. The center was sunken and the cake was really dense.
Equipment matters. When I launched my second attempt at creating a yellow cake my family would enjoy I wanted to eliminate all opportunity for error. I stuck with a basic recipe and carefully followed the instructions. I mixed the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar until just combined. When I pulled the bowl off of the mixer I used a rubber spatula to give the batter one more stir to stir in that final bit of flour at the bottom of the bowl.
I baked the cakes at the correct temperature and checked for doneness 10 minutes before the defined completion time. The cakes were already dark brown and the rise was terrible. The result reminded me of dry cornbread.
What was wrong? My pans. I didn’t purchase dark pans, but my aluminum pans became dark and left smudges on my hands due to oxidization. After disuse for long periods, as well as putting pans in the dishwasher, a non-anodized aluminum pan will turn black and smudgy.
I began to wonder if I should pick a different dessert to bring to family Sunday dinner. Stubborn as I am, I embarked on a third try.
When testing anything, a recipe or software or a plant in your garden, changing more than one element will not tell you what caused failure or success. So, using my simple recipe I tried again with new pans.
Using new Nordic Ware aluminum pans I set out again on my quest to get this yellow cake on a plate.
My recipe is for three, eight-inch pans. I have nine-inch pans so I used two pans, each with more batter.
The Best Yellow Cake, Success!
Finally, success! The best ever yellow cake that was moist with a nice vanilla flavor. I added a filling of thinly sliced strawberries for my husband. Always let the decoration give you a clue about what is inside. My husband put a sliced strawberry on the top of the cake. He is adorable. 😉 My family devoured huge pieces of cake and I enjoyed their smiles!
We don't all keep self-rising flour in our cupboards. Do not fret, you can make your own self-rising flour.
Weighing your batter: place a batter bowl onto the scale and use the tare* feature. Add the batter. Divide the total by the number of pans you are using. Place the pans one at a time on the scale, use the tare feature again and add the required amount to your pan.
8" or 9" aluminum cake pans
*The purpose of the tare feature on a scale is to allow you to reset a scale to zero with items on the scale. Unlike scales that require you to weigh a bowl, add the ingredient, subtract the weight of the bowl. That is too much work.
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