Post # 359 The Riddle of the Cake

April 6, 2015 at 10:16 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 359 The Riddle of the Cake

I’ve been working on another project involving bits and pieces of the blog (more to come on that later) and I discovered something that left me gob smacked!  First, a short quiz.  Real short.  Just one question, really.

What’s my favorite kind of cake?

If you said Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting, you’d be right.  I’ve talked about it incessantly in these posts.  I’ve post pictures not only of cakes I’ve found on the web, but cakes I’ve made.  I’ve even told you about my first attempt at age 13 (or so) in making a yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

The thing that left me floored was I’ve never given you my favorite recipe for yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  I even went so far as to search the posts for “yellow cake” and read every entry (three pages, although in some cases it was just the word ‘yellow’ or ‘cake’ that it was hitting on.)  No posts specifically about yellow cake.

Now, there is a post about butter cakes.  And since butter cakes have a large amount of butter and eggs, they are typically yellow.  But the butter cake recipe I gave you in the that post does not make a yellow layer cake, although it can be topped with chocolate frosting if you want.  Make no mistake.  That Butter Cake recipe is excellent.  Very tasty, and easy to make.  It never lasts too long in our house.

So then I went looking for my favorite yellow cake recipe.  I realized, after several hours of looking, that I had been making my yellow cake from memory for so long, I didn’t realize I was doing it.  It’s one of those recipes I’ve been tweaking and playing with, hoping to hit on the perfect combination of ingredients.

I once made a yellow cake that billed itself as Thomas Jefferson’s favorite yellow cake.  It made a vast amount of batter, a batter so good I ate several spoonfuls right out of the bowl.  It’s been a long time since I made it, but I remember that the dry ingredients had to be added to the wet by single spoonfuls and mixed with a wooden spoon until thoroughly incorporated.  But it was good.  I made three 9 inch round tiers, and there was still enough batter left over to make half a dozen cupcakes.  Like I said, a ton of batter.

Cake can be as temperamental as bread.  If you over mix it, the “crumb” or cake part will be tough.  If you add too much sugar, the center will collapse.  It can burn between one minute and the next so timing is important.  It can have too much or too little of one ingredient or another, or the wrong ingredient, or the wrong ingredient type, or the wrong technique in creating the cake, or the wrong pan.  You’ll end up with a cake that is less than perfect.  My mom always said, “Enough frosting will fix that.”

Whenever you bake anything, read the recipe first and make sure you understand it.  Have the ingredients at hand, already measured, and at the right temperature.  Always, and I can’t stress this enough, always preheat the oven to the correct temp.  Oven thermostats are inexact, so getting a $5 internal thermometer is worth your time.  Timing is also inexact, so when following a recipe, check your cake at the first timing indicated, then the second if needed.  If more time is necessary, check in five minute increments.

So, here’s my favorite yellow cake recipe:

butter cake 3



Yellow Cake

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup milk or water
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour (cake flour works best)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 2 – 8 inch round pans. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped. Cool 15 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks.


Use the frosting I wrote about in Post # 333  A Frosting Conundrum on 1/16/15 and you won’t go wrong.



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