Monday, July 13, 2009

cake & the last word

I’m pretty sure this is the first cake I’ve made from scratch in my adult life. But because I’m basically senile, I cannot confirm that this is true. For all I know, I own a bakery. Regardless, I am the best wife in the world. I hope what’s-his-name thinks so, too.

The recipes are from Cook’s Illustrated online, the assistance and reassurance and actual frosting of the cake were provided by my mother- and stepsister-in-law. Baking is serious business, so I did not deviate from these recipes. What's-his-name's review and rating follow the recipes.

Fluffy Yellow Cake
Makes two 9-inch cake layers. Bring all ingredients to room temperature before beginning.

2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
3 large egg whites, room temperature

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch-wide by 2-inch-high round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Grease paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in large bowl. In 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.

2. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to bowl and set aside.

3. Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

4. Using rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

5. Bake until cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, then invert onto greased wire rack and peel off parchment. Invert cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Foolproof (No, seriously, it's really foolproof! It was made by a fool!) Chocolate Frosting
This frosting may be made with milk, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate. [I used semisweet.] The frosting can be made 3 hours in advance. For longer storage, refrigerate the frosting, covered, and let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
Pinch table salt
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces milk, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

1. In food processor, process butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Scrape sides of bowl, then add chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, 10 to 15 seconds. Frosting can be used immediately or held (see note).


ME: What did you think of your cake?

WHAT'S-HIS-NAME: Moist. Super chocolate-y icing. Yellow. You out Duncan Hines’d Duncan Hines.


ME: How many stars?

WHN: A google x infinity.

ME: Out of five, honey.

WHN: A google x infinity.

After I finished writing this post but before I put it online (we were in the Adirondacks without internet service), what's-his-name hacked into my computer (by which I mean he turned it on) and added the following comment.

"The yachtsman recommends this cake. Your wife sucks if she doesn’t make you this birthday cake. I am a lucky man, and you are not. So ha, I eat cake and you do not."

Do you find him charming? I do.


  1. What the hell is wrong with GFD readers? K8 puts up another great post on the yatchsman, and his cake, and there are no comments? Lets be honest, we all want more posts about the yatchsman, he is one of the most interesting men in the world ( )

    Lets step up here GFD'ers.

    Stay thirsty my friends.


  2. Milly, right you are. Yachtsman posts are quite good, however. wouldn't it just be more effective for for the Yachtsman to start a little blog called Dumpster Wars!?!??! What GFD needs is for you to spin off so I can have TWO awesome blogs to read!!

  3. And I thought that post was about cake.

  4. That post is seemingly tri-fold. One is about cake - appetizing, photogenic cake. Second is about the Yachtsman and his witty remarks, covert-(bl*g)-ops, and enviable, unending appreciation of his wife. But thirdly, this post reflects the marked amazingness of your in-laws. They seem helpful, confidence-building, and solid taste in the way of chocolate. These are people that make the world a better place.

  5. My friend The Sidekick just called the frosting recipe to my attention. 20 Tablespoons of Butter....TWENTY TABLESPOONS OF BUTTER!!!

    Wow. I want some.

  6. Okay -- did anyone else notice the jaw dropping amount of butter and corn syrup in the frosting recipe? I was reading along, thinking that this might make a nice treat and then realized that if I made it for my very mildly diabetic husband, that his birthday would be celebrated in the hospital, if not the morgue! Not to say it doesn't sound fabulous -- it does! But the recipe will go in the same file as foie gras, i'm afraid.