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Moist and Fluffy Yellow Cake and Cupcakes

My little man was diagnosed with peanut and almond allergies at 10 months old. For his first birthday, I made most of the foods from scratch, including his birthday cake. None of the bakeries I had in mind were able to guarantee a nut-free cake that is free from cross contamination. Plus, I did not want to spend $200 on cake (yes, for you non-parents out there, parents do crazy things!). After all, what fun is it when it is your own birthday party and you can't even eat your cake?

The little man had two birthday parties: a family birthday party and a friends birthday party. Our place is too small to house the 36 guests so we had two celebrations. This also meant making two cakes - lucky little man! For the family party, I made a marble cake, to fit into the safari party theme. For the friend's party, I used a recipe from America's Test Kitchen. As usual, the America's Test Kitchen recipe was a huge hit, especially with the little man and my husband, the two most important people in my life.

We celebrated a birthday recently and I made this recipe again. I adapted this recipe to make an 9-inch cake (I couldn't find my 6-inch cake pan) and 12 cupcakes.

Top left clockwise: Baking powder, salt, unsalted butter, vanilla, eggs, milk, sugar and flour.

1-3/4 cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting the pans (see note below)
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp table salt
16 tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened

1. Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans. (I made one 9-inch cake and 12 cupcakes)

Frugal tip: use the wrapper from the unsalted butter to grease the pan.

3. Line the bottoms of each cake pan with parchment paper.

Place the side with pen marks on the bottom.

4. Whisk the milk, eggs and vanilla in a bowl.

5. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together on low speed until combined (about 30 seconds).

Whisking the dry ingredients to make sure it is fully incorporated.

6. Increase the speed to medium-low and beat the 16 pieces of butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time (about 30 seconds after each piece has been added - 8 minutes in total).

Slice each stick of butter into 8 pieces, which is roughly 1 tbsp/piece.

7. Continue to beat the mixture until it resembles moist crumbs (about 1 minute)

This is what it looks like after 4 pieces of butter have been mixed in (1/4 of the way through; after 2 minutes) .

8. Beat in all but 1/2 cup of the milk mixture, then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter until smooth, light and fluffy (about 1 minute)
Silky smooth batter.

9. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly beat in the remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture until the batter looks slightly curdled (about 15 seconds).

10. Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined.

11. Scrape the batter into prepared pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

12. Lightly tap the pans against the countertop two or three times to settle the batter and get rid of any air bubbles.

13. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with a few crumbs attached. Rotate the pans halfway to ensure even baking (if using two cake pans).

Bake in the center of the oven.

14. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes.

Finished cake.
15. Run a wooden chopstick or small rubber spatula around the edge of the pans, then flip them out (with one hand on cake) to cool on a wire rack.

16. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting (about 2 to 3 hours).

17. Peel off the parchment paper, flip the cakes right side up. It is now ready to be frosted.

  • Line muffin tins with muffin liners. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with a few crumbs attached.

  • Use the wrappers of the unsalted butter to grease the cake pans.
  • To flour a cake pan, grease the cake pan with butter and add 2 tbsp of cake flour into the center of the pan. Shake and rotate the pan at an angle to evenly distribute the flour. Tap the pan to get rid of any excess flour.

  • Make sure to use parchment paper and not wax paper. 
  • With a pen, trace the bottom of a cake pan onto a sheet of parchment paper. Fold the parchment paper in half and cut out the circle and place in the greased and floured cake pan.

Source: America's Test Kitchen

Check back tomorrow for the Easy Fail Proof Buttercream Icing recipe!

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