Yesterday was my birthday. My husband offered to order a cake from a bakery, but I said that I really wanted to find a moist, delicious white cake recipe and I wanted to make my own cake. You would think that after baking for 50 years I would have a file drawer full of cake recipes. Well…most of mine are chocolate.For the few times I made a white cake, I used a mix. When I grew up in the ’60′s cake mixes were all the rage and folks would comment on how much lighter they were than homemade cakes.
In the past few years, I’ve started to purchase fewer packaged foods, so it was time to find an excellent recipe for a white cake – made from scratch. And a cake with no gummy bears, gummy worms or gummy fish. I did it, but it was a journey.
This was my dilemma: I wanted to make a white layer cake from scratch so that I could make each layer a different color. Most white cake recipes use egg whites that are whipped until they stand at attention and then are folded gently into the batter. After carefully folding the egg whites in, I can’t suddenly drop in food coloring and beat the batter to a uniform color. All the lightness and airiness would be lost.
In my hunting on FoodBuzz, I got inspiration from a young mother’s blog Manu’s Menu. She introduced a yogurt cake that did not require any egg whites whipped into submission: http://www.manusmenu.com/yogurt-cake-torta-allo-yogurt. Manu made her cake for her young daughter’s birthday.
Another inspirational cake came from a young Australian blogger who calls herself Chocolate Chip Uru. http://gobakeyourself.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/the-proud-moment/
She made a three layer cake with berries, and covered it in white frosting and then coconut. I’m a sucker for coconut, so that was a must.
Both of these inspiring young bloggers live in different countries and their measurements and oven temps vary greatly from ours in the US, so I found another version of the yogurt cake in Entenmann’s Big Book of Baking.
Score. However, it did contain three full eggs – yolks and all. Now I know there is a lot of good nutrition in egg yolks, but there’s something else – the color yellow. If you’re trying to achieve a delicate pink color, this isn’t the best. But it’s what I had. I also couldn’t find my third 8″ round pan, so I used 2 8″ varieties and one 9″ pan. Not perfect, but life is like that.
For the frosting, I just made a standard cream cheese frosting, but then because of the extra icing needed for the third layer, it seemed a bit skimpy. Even tho I was going to cover the top in coconut, I wanted it to be a bit more elegant. So out came the strawberry flavored cream cheese and I made a thin icing (because by now I had run out of powdered sugar) and wanted to just drizzle the strawberry icing over the top of the cake. But it didn’t drizzle in a pretty pattern, it looked clunky.
“OK, I can adjust.” I gently spread it over the top and most of the way down the side of the cake and sprinkled on my coconut and it was done – sort of.
The bottom looked a bit unfinished, like a skirt without a proper hem. Dark chocolate chips took care of that problem.
Yogurt Cake Ingredients
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour – or cake flour if you have it
1 tsp each: baking powder, baking soda and salt
1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract.
Garnishes for later:
Strawberries, dark chocolate chips, 1/2 cup sweetened coconut
Directions for Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease and flour two or three round cake pans or one 9 x 13 pan.
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the egg mixture.
In a separate bowl, mix the yogurt and extracts together.
Slowly add the yogurt to the cake mixture until well blended.
If you want to use three different colors of batter, divide evenly into 3 bowls and add colorings and stir.
Pour into pan or pans.
Bake for 35 minutes for one pan, less for two pans. I baked for 20 minutes for three pans and they were perfect.
Cool before frosting, of course.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup milk (I used coconut milk because I had some open.)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
5-6 cups powdered sugar
Directions for Icing
Cream butter and cream cheese.
Add milk, salt and extracts and beat until smooth.
Add powdered sugar. Cover mixer with a towel before you turn it on. Beat until smooth.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Glaze
2 TBS butter
1/4 cup strawberry cream cheese
2 TBS milk
2 cups powdered sugar
Follow directions for regular cream cheese icing. It should be thin so drizzle over the top of the regular frosting.
Press coconut into the top of the cake.
Garnish with strawberries or dark chocolate chips or both.
OK, so the process wasn’t a straight line, but in the end the cake was delicious. Very moist, with a dense crumb, which is what I was craving.
Luckily a few neighbor girls stopped by just after I snapped a few pictures, so I carved out a big chunk and sent some home for them to share with their family.
This is a recipe to keep. Even if you just make it as a 9 x 13, I think you’ll love the flavor and texture and simplicity of the batter.
I love birthday cakes! Celebrate.