Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Cake to Bake

My husband's birthday falls one day after my father's. Not sure if that's evidence of some unresolved Electra Complex on my part, or if it just means that good men tend to be born around the longest day of the year. But in practical terms, it means I have birthdays on the brain and lots of presents to buy. And cakes to bake.

Scott is a respectably adventurous eater, but he's not a chowhound or a foodie. Instead, he's what I'd call a good sport. And that's just fine with me. He reminds me that other hobbies can be interesting, too. Like art, or drive-in movies.

And when he says he just wants a simple, old-fashioned yellow birthday cake with chocolate frosting, I say, "Where's my butter, sugar?" No, I don't say that. But I do make the cake.

This is, hands-down, the most delicious cake recipe I have yet to bake. It's from Shirley Corriher's Cookwise (only slightly modified).

If Dante had invented nine circles of heaven, this recipe would be her FastPass to the top. If I was a movie producer, I'd buy the rights and make it into a movie. On top of that, Shirley an awfully nice lady who spends a lot of time answering phone calls from stymied cooks all over the country.

Double this recipe if you want two layers.

Basic Moist Sweet Cake

Yield: 1 layer


1-1/2 cups cake flour
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick cold unsalted butter
1-1/3 cup sugar, placed in the freezer to chill
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs at room temperature
3 large egg yolks at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cake pan with parchment paper, grease the bottom and sides with butter, and sprinkle with flour. Toss out the excess and set aside.

Sift together dry ingredients so that the baking powder is evenly dispersed. Chill your bowl and beaters. Beat the hard butter in the chilled bowl for three to four minutes, then gradually pour in chilled sugar. Beat for another three to four minutes until well-blended and very fluffy (a total of eight minutes).

Add oil to butter and sugar mixture, then blend. Add eggs and yolks and beat very lightly on a low speed. Too much beating after adding the eggs will produce a tough crust. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and blend lightly. Fold in sifted dry ingredients.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, then bake for 35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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