Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Texas White Sheet Cake

Texas White Sheet Cake - made June 14, 2013, recipe modified from Chef in Training
I was so enamored of the Texas Vanilla Cake I’d made earlier that I wanted to make it again.  But, being me, I decided to try a different recipe for it.  This time, this was true vanilla all the way in both the cake and the frosting.  Ironically though, this seemed more like a yellow cake, primarily because of the color of the cake.  Similar to the earlier version I had made, this was really good cake, moist and fluffy.  And I think I’ve solved my underbaking problem.  When I absolutely really, really want to take a cake out because I think it’s done (although with my penchant for underbaking, it probably isn’t), I turn the oven off and let the cake sit in the still-hot oven for a few more minutes.  It calms my twitchy baking nerves about overbaking a cake that the oven is turned off but the cake continues baking a little longer and gets a fighting chance that it’ll actually be baked properly instead of underbaked by too much.  That trick seemed to have worked with both of the Texas vanilla cakes I’ve made recently because the texture has come out perfectly for each one: not too dense from being underbaked and not dry because of overbaking.  Instead it’s fluffy yet moist.  

Depending on the cake, the toothpick test doesn’t always work.  Sometimes a toothpick that comes out “clean” still isn’t done in the middle.  I usually poke a toothpick in the corner of the cake then another one in the center.  Even if they both come out clean, you can usually tell if the middle isn’t quite done because it doesn’t go in as easily as the corner toothpick and it might come out with a barely discernible wet film coating it.  But the corner toothpick clearly indicates at least that part of the cake is done and further baking might dry it out.  That’s when I usually turn the oven off and give the cake a few more minutes.  A truly expert baker can tell if a cake is done by pressing lightly on the top of the cake and gauging the “spring” of the cake but I don’t make cakes (especially not the same cakes) often enough to trust my judgment on that.  Toothpicks and instinct based on the cake’s appearance usually work for me.  And if those fail, well, it’s “just a cake” and can always be made again later and the mistake learned from.
1 cup butter
1 cup water
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, optional

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Bring butter and water to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract until smooth.
  4. Pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
  5. While cake is cooling, make frosting.
  6. Combine butter and milk in a saucepan; cook over low heat until butter melts. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  7. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla extract; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until spreading consistency.
  8. Spread frosting on top of cake.

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