Saturday, August 9, 2014

Golden Vanilla Layer Cake with Chocolate Mocha Frosting


A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way 
that everyone believes he has the biggest piece. 
- Ludwig Erhard 

My son is very particular about cake. Very. I often refer to him as persnickety and he is. When it comes to cake he requires a texture halfway between gooey and dry…. just moist without being too dense or creamy. Lightly fluffy is best. For flavor he goes for plain chocolate, not too sweet, not too bitter, just, well, right. And frosting, you ask? There is only one single frosting he will eat and happy for me it is simple as pie to make. Each time I ask him what he would like for me to bake his answer is invariably the same: "The double layer chocolate cake. You know that is the only one I'll eat!" Cue in eye roll.

But. He has also been pestering me for some inexplicable reason to bake a triple layer cake. Why? I cannot even remember why or where the notion of a triple layer cake came from but I assume that I made one once or twice and he just loved the idea of it (as I now look, I see I have made a three layer cake more than once). More layers means more fun! Especially if those layers are sandwiched together and slathered with more of his favorite Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. I even went out and bought three 6-inch cake pans just for a three-layer cake. A cute one.

I'd choose truth over cake but I'd try to find a way to get both to be honest. 
- Craig Benzine 

And then I came across this recipe for a Golden Vanilla Layer Cake. I have been frantically – yes, frantically, if you know how I am about cake – searching for a great… a really great yellow layer cake recipe. I wanted it to be simple – yes, simple, if you know how I am about cake – with the perfect texture, moist and dense without being gooey, cakey without being dry. A foolproof cake would be marvelous, as well, seeing as I have little understanding of and even less control over my new oven. I definitely needed a vanilla layer cake in my repertoire of regular layer cakes seeing as I, for now, only have chocolate.

That is, until now.

This Golden Vanilla Layer Cake from King Arthur Flour is everything I dreamed a yellow cake – my yellow cake would be. Moist and dense, firm yet light. A deep vanilla flavor yet not too overpowering, the perfect balance for a chocolate or mocha buttercream. Simple to make and apparently foolproof. And my son? How did he like it? He did! He gave it the persnickety seal of approval. And he is right: three layers is more fun.

I think they're going to force us to eat lots of cake and then take an unreasonably long nap. 
- Veronica Roth, Insurgent 

From the King Arthur Flour website

2 cups (400 g) sugar
3 1/4 cups (390 g) flour (King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose)
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 ¼ cups (300 ml) milk at room temperature
2 tsps vanilla extract
4 large eggs at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Grease (I brushed with softened butter) and flour (or line with parchment paper rounds, as I did) three 8-inch round cake pans.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Add the softened butter in large chunks all at once and beat on low speed until the butter is well and evenly blended in and it resembles sand.

Combine the milk and vanilla and add to the bowl all at once; beat on low speed for 30 seconds then increase the speed to medium and continue to beat for another 30 seconds. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating first on low speed for 30 seconds to blend then on medium speed for 30 seconds after the addition of each egg, scraping the bowl as needed. Once all four eggs are blended in, beat at medium or high speed for an additional 30 seconds.

Divide the batter evenly among the 3 prepared cake pans and bake in the preheated oven until the cake is set in the center and lightly golden, from 25 – 35 minutes, depending on your oven (keep close watch). The cake should just be beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan either in the oven or as you set it on a cooling rack to cool. Allow the layers to cool for about 10 minutes or so before turning out onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting. 

My old faithful (with a small addition of ricotta) because it is my family's favorite and it is the easiest to make.

12 oz (350 grams) powdered/confectioner’s sugar
8 Tbs (120 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1.8 oz (50 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
4 Tbs very hot prepared coffee
2 - 4 Tbs fresh ricotta cheese, optional

Using an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and the powdered sugar together. Add the cocoa powder and the hot coffee and beat, scraping down the sides as necessary, until well blended and fluffy.

Chill in the refrigerator until firm enough so that when the cake is frosted the layers does not slide when stacked.

Frost the tops of the layers then stack, placing the bottom layer on a cake or serving plate. I slip strips of waxed paper or parchment under the edges of the cake before frosting the sides in order to keep the plate clean and frosting-free. Smooth the frosting on the sides of the cake. Gently slide the strips of parchment out from under the cake and retouch as needed. Chill in the refrigerator until the frosting has firmed. Because the frosting contains butter, it is best to store uneaten cake in the refrigerator.


Robin O said...

This is a just a fantastic yellow cake! So tall with the three layers and covered with your well tested frosting. Oh la la Thanks for finding and testing this very best recipe!

Sue/the view from great island said...

In our house growing up yellow cake with chocolate frosting was the official birthday cake...this one takes it to the next level --- it's spectacular!

Betsy @ Desserts Required said...

Your quotes are fantastic! Each one makes me smile...especially the first because, after all, who doesn't want the biggest slice?

I never thought to add ricotta to the frosting. It's an interesting idea that I need to try next time I make a layer cake.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

This cake looks amazing and must taste heavenly! Indeed, your son is very persnickety (and spoilt LOL).



Stacy said...

I love that it is called golden vanilla cake, not just plain yellow cake. Then you know you are going to get sometime special! Which this totally is. Gorgeous three-layer cake, Jamie. Just gorgeous! How could it not get the persnickety seal of approval!

Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things said...

'Tis a very beautiful cake, Jamie!

Simones Kitchen said...

O boy... that is one awesome looking cake Jamie. I've been wanting to make a layer cake but I'm a little scared of them too. Me and layers don't seem to go together all that well, but this one just looks like it is screaming my name... Gorgeous!

Milk and Honey said...

My boys would LOVE this cake. They have very particular ideas about what makes a great cake too and I think this would tick all the boxes for them . Thanks for sharing the recipe and gorgeous pics.

Jamie said...

@Simone - you should make this one in two layers... 9-inch cake pans. Two larger/wider layers are so much easier to work with. Or one sheet cake pan!

@Betsy - I added ricotta to the frosting for more body and to cut the sweetness just a tiny bit. I've also added mascarpone in the past to this basic frosting recipe: whenever I have wanted to change the body or increase the quantity just a bit I add something like one or the other.

@Sue - thanks for your visit! This would be a spectacular birthday cake. Mine is always chocolate but this recipe is so good and there are so many flavor possibilities with a vanilla cake.

@Milk and Honey (Jennifer) notice that your stunning photos are starting to inspire me?

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

When I was young I always requested a yellow cake with chocolate frosting for my birthday and it is still one of my favorites. Love that you used 6-inch pans for this, Jamie. The height makes it very special. I wish I could stick a fork right through my computer screen.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Layer cakes are fun! When I was quite young, for some reason I always wanted a cake "as tall as my head" for my birthday. It was layer cakes at first, then angle food (easier to get the height with that). I love the idea of the 6 inch pans for a 3 level layer cake! The size of the finished cake is so cool. Good recipe, fun post -- thanks.

Carolyn Jung said...

That is one regal, mile-high cake. King Arthur has such great recipes. I've made many of their cookie recipes and loved them all.

Jill Colonna said...

No wonder your son is fussy about cake when his Mum produces masterpieces like this! Looks delicious, Jamie. Love the quotes.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I have a bit of a thing for layer cakes and this one is a beauty! High and proud it would command the attention of all when it enters a room! :D

Rambling Tart said...

I've been craving cake all week and today Bear and I went out and had warm double chocolate cake with cream. Swoon. :-) Yours looks and sounds marvelous too!

A Cook Not Mad (Nat) said...

Looks delicious!

Memoria James said...

I remember going on a yellow cake hunt as well and thought I had found THE recipe. Now I must try this one! The crumb looks dense and moist!

Thalia @ butter and brioche said...

this is just the most amazing cake ever.. i am so craving a slice right now, seriously delicious.

MonaLisa said...

Yellow cake with chocolate frosting has always been the Traditional Hollums Family Birthday Cake, too!

But not anymore!

MonaLisa said...

Yellow cake with chocolate frosting has always been the Traditional Hollums Family Birthday Cake, too!

But not anymore!

Barbara Bakes said...

What a gorgeous cake. Love the idea of using 6 inch pans to make a triple layer cake.

Liz Berg said...

Such a towering beauty! This may become a birthday tradition for my picky man :)

Jenni said...

Like others have said, yellow cake with chocolate frosting was always our family's go-to birthday cake. This one ups the ante just enough to be both familiar and sophisticated at the same time. Love!

Karen Kerr said...

Jamie, that cake is stunning and the frosting sounds decadent. Beautiful!


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