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
GOLDEN (YELLOW) VANILLA LAYER CAKE
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.
MOCHA (CHOCOLATE) BUTTERCREAM 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.