Learning 2 Bake, from Scratch – VIII

Classic Birthday Cake

From: Mark
Source: King Arthur box

2 cups (241g) King Arthur Cake Flour [surprise!]
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
2 cups (397g) granulated sugar
1 Tbl (14g) vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)
1 cup (227g) milk; whole milk preferred
4 Tbl (57g) butter; cut into pieces
1/3 cup (67g) vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 325 with a rack in the center. Lightly grease two 9-inch round pans; for extra protection against sticking, line the bottom of the pans with parchment and grease the parchment.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, either using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract (if using), until thickened and light gold in color, about 2 minutes at medium-high speed.
Add the dry ingredients and mix just enough to combine. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then mix again briefly.
In a saucepan set over medium heat or in the microwave, bring the milk to just a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and oil, stirring until the butter has melted.
Slowly mix the hot milk-butter-oil mixture into the batter, stirring on low speed until everything is well combined. Scrape the bowl and mix briefly, just until smooth.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and the top feels set (26 to 30 minutes).

I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so let’s go in order.

Mise en place un

Who knew I had almond extract?

Mise en place deux

You must read ahead a bit to figure out this is the correct organization.

And ready to go in

If I get a straight-on angle, my shadow covers about half the picture.

I think I may have a new cake batter rule: If you don’t want to lick the beater, don’t waste your time baking it. This is good! (I did use the almond extract, since I had a half-full bottle of it.)

The frosting plan:

Boil together 3/4 cup of sugar and 4 tablespoons of liquid flavoring (substituting some water if using a flavoring of jelly-like consistency) until it threads [with such a small amount, “threads” is easier than a temperature, but 230, if you prefer]. Beat the white of 1 egg stiff and dry. Add to this 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar. Pour the syrup over all and beat until stiff enough to spread.

I decided to toss the past-due-date homemade syrup and I bought grape jelly.

Jelly is really thick. After putting three tablespoons in the pan, I didn’t think that much sugar would dissolve in it, so I added a 1/4 cup of water. It syruped up nicely and in the expected amount of time.

Meanwhile, I added the 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, the 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar (not shown; last minute decision) to the egg whites. After adding about a teaspoon of the cornstarch, all the frosting was stuck in the whisk, so I stopped there.

Pouring in the syrup worked fine and thinned it a bit, but it was not very grape-y. I added another three heaping tablespoons (let’s just call it a 1/4 cup) of jelly. The consistency is a bit gluey, but spreadable – and it tastes like grape frosting, not marshmallows.

Beep! Beep! Beep! Cakes are done. Not. They are nicely risen, almost over the top of the pans, but definitely not done. Another 5 minutes for y’all…

Beep! Beep! Beep! Well. They’re done, but what happened?!?

They collapsed! Ready to frost:

Or not. I think this is a pretty clear sign that the parchment paper is NOT optional. I also may have been a tad impatient and they were still a bit warm.

The other thing that changed: I reused the bands from the previous attempt – but I did not re-wet the paper towels. I considered it, but decided to see what happened. Well, now we know.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with that. It tastes fine and it’s moist enough to eat without frosting, so I guess I’ll just let it sit on the counter as grazing fodder. I’m afraid to put the frosting in the refrigerator because the pectin is going to resolidify and turn it into a block. While it’s still soft, I’m going to put in the top of the double-boiler so I can heat it up, if needed. Best to do that, right now [not a fake tense; it’s still sitting in the mixing bowl].

Since this presumably well tested recipe failed so spectacularly, I’m going to make it without the egg yolks next time because I want a white cake. What could go wrong?

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