I should have been down this road already. My daughter is three. But all of her cakes have been ordered from professionals so far. Due, in large part, to the fact that I cannot frost a cake to save my life. (Have I mentioned that before?) So here I was, about to celebrate another birthday and with no go to non-chocolate cake recipe.
I've had a white velvet cake that I liked ok, but it very dense. As is the coconut cake from Ina. But those are white cakes and I wanted a yellow cake for whatever reason. I was looking for something light and airy. So I started searching for a classic yellow cake. I thought maybe Cook's Illustrated must have one. I never got that far, because I came across smitten kitchens yellow cake recipe and stopped looking. She said everything in her post that I was thinking. It was even a recipe she desired to have for her son's first birthday.
The pictures looked great. If she would have said it was a boxed mix, I would have believed her. The only thing I was going to do different was the icing. I did a standard buttercream instead of the chocolate sour cream icing in smitten kitchen's version. I did like her perimeter of sprinkles, too. Very festive.
The cake was a success. I was amazed how disinterested in eating the cake my son was. He thoroughly enjoyed smashing it, but really didn't eat much. The rest of us enjoyed it. It was exactly what I wanted it to be. Light, sponge-y and delicious without the cloying sweetness of a boxed cake. Thankfully I made a 6" cake, because the three of us attacked it. Because I made this a smaller cake, I halved her recipe and it was the perfect amount. I know there will be times I will need 24 cupcakes, or to make a standard size cake, and its nice to know that this recipe can accommodate.
So I have found a new yellow cake recipe, a keeper. While most of us are chocoholics in my house, this one will be very well suited to a summer celebration, when I want to fill the cake with lemon or raspberry fillings. I'm looking forward to making this for many birthdays and occasions. I'll be making this again in a few weeks for William's birthday party, in the form of mini-cupcakes.
Classic Yellow Cake
courtesy of smitten kitchen
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two six inch cake pans (or spray with Baker's Joy), or prepare a muffin tin with liners.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar a medium speed until pale and fluffy, then add the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. On low speed, add the buttermilk. It will look curdled when combined. Add the flour mixture in three batches until just incorporated.
Spread batter evenly between the pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes for 6" cake pans. Cool on racks about 10 minutes, then turn out onto racks to cool completely.
adapted from Cook's Illustrated, via Pink Parsley
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed, for about 3-4 minutes. When pale and fluffy, gradually add the confectioner's sugar in batches mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla extra, salt and heavy cream, and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add food coloring at this time, if using and stir well to combine.