January 22, 2013

Cake #3: Yellow Cake w/ Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Guys. This cake did not turn out the way I anticipated. For one thing, it is so ugly.
(Poor cake, all lopsided squashed and sad. I shouldn't say it's ugly. It's just a sweet spirit is all. I felt bad, though, using the pretty cake plate my sister-in-law gave me for the first time on such a pitiful treat.)

For another thing, it didn't taste like yellow cake. I love that tangy yellow-cake-from-a-box-mix flavor, and this cake just didn't have it. It was delicious, don't get me wrong; it just wasn't what I expected. Fortunately, the frosting provided enough tang to satisfy my craving.

But that brings up the frosting issue. I tried adapting a recipe I found online to suit my taste, and evidently my taste is too-runny frosting. Again, delicious, but not sturdy enough to hold up well on a layer cake. I would definitely use more powdered sugar next time so my top layer doesn't go all slip-sliding off the bottom one like this cake threatened to do.

Even so, it was pretty tasty for your basic "just because I want it" cake.
Yellow Cake
recipe from Smitten Kitchen

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then drop pan on the counter a few times from two inches up to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting*
adapted from Cookie Madness

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli this time)
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup sour cream
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Beat together butter, cocoa powder, and milk until combined. Add sour cream and 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Continue adding powdered sugar a little at a time (mostly to avoid a big sugar dust cloud) until desired consistency is reached. (Go thicker than you think you should, especially if using for a layer cake. It's not so much an issue for, say, a cake baked in a 9x13 pan.)

*I will be testing this frosting recipe again and will update it if I have better success next time.


  1. Yay! You used it! I think it still looks yummy. Of course, yellow cake is my favorite and I almost came down there just to have a piece.

    1. I wish it had been less vanilla-y and more yellow cake-y. Oh wells. If I find a recipe that knocks my socks off, I'll let you know so you can head on down!

  2. Do you use cake flour? I see it in recipes sometimes and wonder how much of a difference it makes. Texture? Chemical reactions? Any thoughts?

    1. Cake flour has less gluten than all purpose flour. Using it should (in theory at least) produce a lighter, fluffier cake, since more gluten makes things heavier and chewier. I only use it if a recipe calls for it, though, and if I don't have any on hand I'll substitute all purpose flour and cornstarch. (This tutorial is a good one: http://joythebaker.com/2009/09/how-to-make-cake-flour/)

    2. That is awesome! I never knew...


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