Saturday, October 19, 2013

Vanilla Butter Layer Cake

Vanilla Butter Layer Cake - made September 27, 2013 from Food Loves Writing
I saw a picture of this on pinterest and instantly thought, "I've got to try this recipe."  Not because I wanted a vanilla cake but because I just loved how the texture looked on Food Loves Writing's cake. That picture showed a perfectly baked cake and defines what I mean by "fluffy" when I talk about perfect cake texture.
You can't get that kind of texture if you underbake a cake (hello, self, are you listening?) because the texture will be dense, not fluffy.  If you overbake it, it might look better but it'll have a dry mouthfeel. 
I did try to go for the fluffy, which, in my underbaking madness, means I left the cake pans in the oven a few minutes after I wanted to take them out, turned off the oven then sat on my hands a few minutes after that, fighting every baking instinct I had not to take them out while voices in my head shrieked "It'll be dry! Take them out NOW!" When I couldn't stand the ringing in my ears any longer, I did take them out.  They weren't quite as fluffy as the original picture that inspired me to bake this but still better than my usual cake attempts that come out too soon.  Overall, this is a very good vanilla layer cake recipe. I would probably amp up the vanilla by increasing the amount of vanilla extract and adding a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or scrapings from a fresh vanilla bean but it's a good cake. With a fluffy texture if you don't underbake it.
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus additional to grease pans
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
Frosting (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. Melt butter and let it cool to room temperature.
  3. Combine the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in the large bowl of a stand mixer. On medium speed, add the butter, incorporating in several additions. Beat for about 2 minutes, or until combined; the texture should resemble cornmeal.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla extract and milk. Add to the flour-butter mixture in two batches (scraping the bowl once), and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until smooth.
  5. Distribute the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Remove cakes from pans to cool completely. Frost the cake. It can stand at room temperature for 1 hour; otherwise, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Frosting (I only used a half recipe since I don't like a lot of frosting)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 pounds (7 1/2 -8 cups) confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream, (may substitute whole, low-fat or nonfat milk)
  1. In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until fluffy. On low speed, add the sugar in batches, increasing the speed to high after each addition is incorporated. 
  2. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and cream in a steady stream on low speed until incorporated. 
  3. Add a few drops of food coloring, if desired. Beat on high speed for 8-10 minutes, until light and fluffy.

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