Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Last night I went to see the musical, Memphis, with my friend Jennifer. Her father had the initial concept for the play. It was outstanding and so enjoyable and touching. I wanted to make a cake for her to thank her for her thoughtfulness. This is one of her favorite flavors, vanilla cake with vanilla icing, so I created this one.
This cake is also ideal for a birthday cake. It has an excellent crumb and the frosting is very versatile. The frosting is a basic Swiss Meringue butter cream. To make it chocolate, fold in 2-4 ounces of warm melted unsweetened chocolate to the finished butter cream. If you prefer coffee flavor, just add instant espresso dissolved in water. Start with a Tbs. of instant coffee granules to 2-3 Tbs. water. Add more the same way if you desire stronger coffee flavor.
This paddle is an exceptional tool. It makes mixing cakes a real pleasure. No more bowl scraping! No longer necessary! It is called a Beater Blade. They have a web site. This is an excellent tool if you do any baking at all, and they make blades to fit on various kinds of mixers.
Here is how you make the cake:
1 1/2 sticks softened sweet butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cup water
2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a 10 inch cake pan liberally. Dust it with flour.
In an electric mixer add butter and sugar and mix with the paddle attachment until creamed. Add the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl.
With the machine turned off, add the flour mixture all at once. Turn the machine on slowly and add the water until the mixture is smooth and just incorporated. (The Beater Blade helps one accomplish this easily because you can add the water in a steady stream and you don't have to stop to scrape down the sides, so you don't get lumps and you don't over mix the batter) . Then mix in the vanilla.
Place batter into the prepared pan.
Place the pan into the preheated oven and bake 45-50 minutes until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, the cake is golden in color and when the top is pressed gently it depresses slightly . Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack then carefully, un mold the cake onto the rack. Let cool completely. Then place the cake onto a cardboard circle or an attractive serving plate.
For the frosting
5 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
10 ounces unsalted butter
a dash of salt
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
In the mixing bowl of your electric mixer add the sugar and egg whites. The bowl must be clean and dry or your meringue won't develop properly.
Place the bowl over a pot with water. Make sure the bottom of the mixing bowl does not touch the water. Over medium high heat, for about 5 minutes, stir the egg white, sugar mixture occasionally with a wire whisk. When the sugar melts and the mixture is about 100 degrees, just a little hotter than body temperature, place the mixing bowl on the machine with the whisk attachment. Put it on high and beat until you have a stiff meringue. The bowl should be slightly warm or cool when you touch the bottom. Change to the paddle attachment. Add the butter and beat until you have a smooth cream. This should take about 5 minutes. Add the dash of salt and mix in the vanilla.
Now you are ready to ice the cake
Cut the cake horizontally into thirds with a serrated knife. Spread about 1/3 cup of butter cream between each layer. Albert Kumin, my amazing mentor used to say... " You want a filling not a stuffing"! Then ice the top and sides of the cake with a thin coat of frosting. This is called a "crumb coat". This prevents the crumbs from getting messed up in the frosting.
Refrigerate the cake for 5 minutes.
Then proceed to finish icing the cake. Have fun and ice it so that it delights you!
Serve the cake the same day.... It is best that way. Serves 16-20
Alternatively freeze the cake before it is iced and refrigerate the frosting in a tightly closed container. Let the icing come to room temperature before frosting. It is easier to frost if the cake is a bit cool.
Serve the iced cake at room temperature.
Recipes, Writing and Photos by Karen Pickus
Courtesy Karen Pickus 2010