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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Best Cake Ever

Right up front, please notice I did not say the “Most Beautiful Cake Ever.”  I’m not entirely at fault for the decorating.  Princess Thundercloud insisted on helping, and I was trying to keep the cake a surprise, so was decorating while the other hooligans were watching “Land of the Lost.”  The series, not the remake movie with Will Farrell.  Point being, I had at best thirty minutes to stack, fill, frost, and decorate 6 layers.

Justification over, the cake itself and the frosting were truly the best I’ve ever made.  My GI Joe pronounced it the best he’d ever eaten, anywhere.  He even ate it the next day, which he never does. He’ll eat leftover anything except cake or pie. One slice and he’s done, usually.  This served 7 people, two times. And I think the hubs sneaked a piece for a midnight snack, too.

For the cake, I used the Elegant White Cake recipe from The King Arthur Flour’s Baking Companion cookbook, with a couple of small changes.

Elegant White Cake

(adapted slightly from King Arthur Flour)
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
1/2 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp baking powder
1-3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp Fiori di Sicilia (or vanilla)
2 tsp almond extract
2 whole eggs
1 egg white
2-3/4 cup cake flour (this is important to success. Don’t use all-purpose)
1 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour cake pans and line bottom with parchment paper. For the rainbow cake, I used 6 foil 9" round pans.  You could also use 3 regular round pans, and do two rounds of baking.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, oil, sugar, baking powder, sale, and extracts until light and fluffy.  I did this with a ginormous whisk, but you could also use an electric mixer.  I’m lazy when it comes to doing dishes.

3. Add the eggs and egg white (if you want a truly white cake, use 5 egg whites and no whole eggs).  I was coloring this, so didn’t care if it was not completely white batter.

4. Stir in 1 cup flour, then 1/2 cup milk, then 1 cup flour, then 1/2 cup milk, then remaining flour.  Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of bowl throughout this process, if you’re using an electric mixer.

5.  IF YOU ARE NOT MAKING A RAINBOW CAKE, pour the batter into the pans at this point.  Bake until center springs back.

layers6. For the rainbow cake, scoop a scant cup of batter into each of 6 bowls.  Tint them as dark as you would like using gel food colors.  Pour each into a prepared pan and bake for 15-18 minutes, until centers spring back.  Test each layer, as they may not be done at exactly the same time.  he green layer took about 3 minutes longer, for some reason.  I baked 3 layers at a time on a rack in the middle of the oven.

7.  Remover from oven and let cool to room temp.  I froze the layers overnight to make them easier to frost, as well as hide them from the hooligan.

Now for the frosting.  I had read about this various places online, but couldn’t wrap my brain around the possibility of a frosting made with flour and granulated sugar being all that and a bag of chips.  I was tired of buttercream, though, having just made cherry buttercream for the Hello Kitty party a week earlier. It’s delicious, but so rich.  I was worried that having 6 layers filled with it would be just way too much.  So I tried it.

I used this recipe from MissyDew at Tasty Kitchen.  Essentially, you make a roux from milk and flour, then let that cool to room temperature.  Apparently this is a very traditional recipe.  My mom said her grandmother made a similar one, also using granulated sugar. I see this as a life-altering recipe, as I’m often out of powdered sugar and thus don’t make frosting for things.  Perhaps it will be a waist-altering one as well, but I’ll take my chances.

It has the consistency of really thick whipped cream, and that’s what it tastes like, as well.  It spreads beautifully and will hold its shape for piping.  If you get fancy with it, I would keep it refrigerated until a half hour or so before serving.  I didn’t get fancy, but refrigerated it anyway.

Again, I was worried about all that frosting between six layers, so I filled the layers with marshmallow cream.  One small jar was just enough to do 4 layers, then I used the frosting between the top two layers and on the top and sides of the cake.  I had about 1/2 cup of frosting left over, which the hubs unwisely ate out of the bowl. He looked a little green later.

When you are ready to layer, frost, and decorate, place the first (purple) layer on you cake plate.  Slide strips of wax paper around the sides.  Then, when you’re done frosting, you can pull them out and have a clean cake plate.

As you can see, my helper was rushing me by the time I got to Aidan’s name, so it’s a little wobbly. He thought I did it on purpose, so I’ll go with that.  His request for a cake was a rainbow cake, white frosting, and jelly beans on top.  This is what I did, after a great suggestion from my sister-in-law for the chalice.

I wrapped the sides in Extreme Sour Rainbow Strips.  I can’t tell you how happy I was that the one package I bought was exactly enough to cover it.  Unfortunately, my helper also put one strip upside down and I didn’t realize it until I was serving it. Oh, well.

A word of caution if you use the rainbow candy…it’s extremely hard to cut and have the cake remain decorated.  As you can see, the layers worked perfectly and the guest of honor was thrilled. He didn’t realize the inside was going to be rainbow; he thought just the candy on the outside was.  You’d think he had not been my son for his whole life.  He should have known that if I say a rainbow cake, I mean a rainbow cake!

If you have a little rainbow-lover in your life, I definitely recommend making this. It really was not difficult or time consuming.  You could also use 2 white cake mixes, but this cake was divine. So I guess that makes it perfect for a First Communion!  I also like to avoid the partially hydrogenated oil and other additives in cake mixes.  Of course, I had no qualms about dying the cake, but let's ignore that for now.

The frosting took a little time, because I had to wait for the roux to cool.  I followed the tip, though, and cooled it over a bowl of ice water in the sink and it was ready when my butter and sugar were.

It was the perfect ending to his First Communion celebration…and of course, the other two plan to have the same for their First Communions. Fine by me…as long as they have Sleestaks and the Land of the Lost to keep them from “helping” me!


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful cake! Someday he'll look back at these pictures and realize just how much his mom loves him!! :)


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