Yellow Cake

yellow cakeI love a good Yellow Cake.  It is the de facto cake for many a fine dessert, and if you have a good one, you will rarely find anyone who is willing to complain about it.  A good Yellow Cake is moist, with a delicate crumb and a little spongy.  Ok, technically, it is a sponge cake, or even called a butter cake, but everyone thinks of it as a Yellow Cake.  You know, because of the color.

(If you get a bad one, they are dry, crumbly, and hard to make taste good with anything.  So let’s not make a bad one, ok?)

When we add a simple buttercream frosting, and you cannot go wrong.  Chocolate frosting and you have something wonderful.  Put strawberries and whipped cream on it, and you have something amazing.  Put pastry cream in it, with Chocolate Ganache over the top and you have Boston Cream Pie, which is spectacular.  I’ll put that into another post, because it is really (REALLY) worth doing.

Today, however, is the sublime, delicate, and incredible Yellow Cake.

 

Mix the dry ingredients into a bowl, with a whisk or a fork.  Mix the wet ingredients into a measuring cup.  You can skip the stirring of the wet stuff.

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Grease and flour your pans.  Cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, and blend in.

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Alternatively add dry and wet ingredients in multiple additions, starting and ending with the dry. (You know: dry, wet, dry, wet, dry).

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.  I use a scale to get them close.  They don’t have to be perfect, but if they are close they will cook evenly.  Once the batter is divided into the pans, use a spatula to spread it out evenly.

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Bake them for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.  Once a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, but not goopy, set them on a wire rack for ten minutes.  Run a knife (plastic knife for non-stick pans!) around the edges and turn onto the wire rack, making sure they are upside down.

yellow cake

Here is the trick to keeping them moist and wonderful.  While they are cooling for the ten minutes in the pan, before you turn them out onto the wire rack, you need to make a simple syrup.  That is heating 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar over heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  The photo is of the syrup, with the sugar dissolved.  Ok, maybe not, but it looks the same.

Hollandaise sauce

As soon as the cakes are turned out of the pans, you want to slowly coat the bottoms of the cakes with the syrup.  Spread it evenly, between both cakes.  You can tell that you are going at the right speed when it is soaking in and not beading up, or pouring around to any low spot.

yellow cake

Once all the syrup is soaked in, let the cakes completely cool before you frost them or wrap them up for later.  I find they are even better the next day, so I wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and put them far back on the counter where the little kids don’t play with them, leaving them upside down so gravity can continue to help the syrup distribute through the cake.

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In case you’re curious, my son helped me frost that cake.

 

Yellow Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2x 9" cake round
 
The divine, sublime, and delicious Yellow Cake
Ingredients
  • ½ lb unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¾ Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¾ cup (minus ¾ Tablespoon) milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • Syrup
  • ½ Cup Sugar
  • ½ Cup water

  • Frosting
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and flour 2x 9" round cake pans, lining the bottom with parchment paper, if desired.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Combine ¼ C water, lemon juice, milk and vanilla in a measuring cup or separate bowl. Set aside.
  5. Cream butter and 2 Cups granulated sugar in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  6. Blend in eggs, one at a time.
  7. Add dry and wet mixtures to batter, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  8. Divide batter evenly between pans, smoothing the tops.
  9. Bake 30 - 35 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.
  10. When cakes are done, cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack.
  11. While the cakes are cooling, make the simple syrup: combine ½ Cup granulated sugar and ½ Cup water in small saucepan, stirring over low to medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
  12. Remove cakes from pans and set on wire rack (best to set upside down on rack so that syrup absorbs better).
  13. Spoon simple syrup over cakes, slowly, trying to get even coverage.
  14. Allow cakes to cool completely.

 

French Crepes

French CrepesHave you ever had the desire to show off at the end of a meal, and create a simple but amazing dish that will get everyone to Ooh and Ah?  My friends, I present for your consideration, French Crepes!’

(Please note, these are dessert crepes, so are slightly sweeter than the kind you would make for the main meal.  Those are awesome as well, but for a different day.)

French Crepes are easy to make (with only a little practice), very few ingredients (all of which are common), and will delight and inspire your guests.  I invite the guests to join me in the kitchen, and sit around the island talking while I make them, switching between two pans on the stove-top to get them done a little faster.  The guests then fill them with an assortment of fillings, based on what i liked that day.  Fresh fruits, like strawberries and blueberries, chocolate spread (I prefer Justin’s Hazelnut Butter over Nutella), whipped cream, caramel syrup, nuts, and almost all Sundae Toppings are always a hit.

If there is a trick to this, and I am not saying there is, it would be to figure out the heat setting on your stove to cook them to golden brown without cooking them too quickly, so you have time to swirl them around the pan before they set.  Say, start with medium, and let the pan get warm for a couple of minutes before you start.  Oh, and a good non-stick pan is a major help.  Oh, and make the batter the night before you want to cook them so the it can rest, or at least a few hours before.

Don;t let any of that intimidate you.  The batter is cheap, mostly flour and butter, so make twice what you want and play with it.  It really is worth doing.

Let’s bring on the photos!

Make the batter beforehand, in a blender.  It beats hand whisking every time (at least for crepes).

crepes

When ready, I use a measuring cup to get the right amount for the pan.  I use 1/3 cup for a 10″ pan.  Once the pan is good and hot, i wipe it down with a little butter on a paper towel, not a lot, just a hint of it.  Then pour in the measures batter all at once, and start swirling the pan to make a nice thin coating across the entire bottom of the pan.

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Let that cook over the heat for a little bit, may 30-60 seconds, then check under the edge with a spatula.  You are looking for a nice, golden brown, and a little shake on the pan should have the crepe move loosely.

French Crepes

When it looks good, flip it over.  My inner self always wants to do a large flourish of the pan to flip it, but that’s just me wanting to show off.  It is much easier to use the spatula and kind of pick it up in the middle and unfold it on it’s other side.  It also ends up with a lot less broken, lost, or messed up crepes.

French Crepes

The second side needs less time than the first side, and won’t get all golden brown, but it will set and get some brown spots, then slide it out of the pan and onto a waiting plate.  Cover the plate with a clean dish towel, or right onto a guests plate, but be careful to not burn them with the pan.

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And that’s it!  add some filling, less is often more so don’t overfill them, and roll them up.

Your guests will thank you.  Several times.

 

Recipe is taken from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by the wonderful Julia Childs.  If you don’t have it, go buy it.  Now.  I’ll wait.  It’s simple instructions and detailed recipes will make you a better cook, and the book is truly amazing.

French Crepes
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12 6" crepes
 
As dessert crepes, they are slightly sweeter than the savory kind, and can be wrapped around many things for a sublime after dinner treat. Best when the batter gets to rest for 2-24 hours. Try to make the night before you want them.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ cup cold water
  • 3 egg yokes
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients into the blender in the order they are listed. Cover and blend at top speed for one minute. Scrape down the sides and blend again for a few seconds. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or better overnight.
  2. heat a non-stick pan over medium heat for a few minutes until hot. Wipe with a very small amount of butter. Pour in about ⅓ cup of batter and slowly swirl around until the bottom of the pan is covered. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute, until golden brown, then flip over (using spatula, fingers, or wrist flip of the pan. Be careful to not burn yourself.) 30 seconds on the second side, and remove from pan.
  3. Repeat until all batter is used.

 

Beet Gratin

beetsI was visiting a friend yesterday that has a large and wonderful garden, and I particularly noticed her beets, all in nice rows.  We got to talking, and I mentioned an amazing Beet Gratin recipe I have.  Was she interested?  Of course!  So I dug it out, and I am putting it here for perusal.

Sadly I did not create it or write it, etc, but I cannot now find it online, so to allow the world to have this creation I am putting it here.  It was originally Golden Beet Gratin, but I can never find those so I made it with regular beets, and it is the best beet dish I have ever had.

Enjoy!

 

Beet Gratin
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10 servings
 
Best Beet dish I have ever had.
Ingredients
  • 6-8 red beets
  • 2 lb beet greens

  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon salt (for blanching water)

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • ½ cup Gruyere cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut greens off beets, leaving ½" of stems. Scrub beets and place in baking dish. Add ¼" water. Cover tightly and bake 35-40 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Stem and wash greens. Add 1 Tablespoon salt to water and blanch greens for a minute or two. Transfer to bowl of cold water, drain, squeeze out water, and chop coarsely. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Oil 2-quart gratin dish generously with olive oil. Slip skins off beats and slice thin. Beat eggs, ¾ teaspoon salt, pepper, milk, garlic, and all but two Tablespoons of cheeses. Stir into chopped greens.
  4. Make the gratin. Line bottom of dish with sliced beets, overlapping slightly. Add layer of the greens mixture. Continue to make 2-3 layers, depending on the size of the gratin dish. Be sure the top layer is beet slices. overlapping slightly. Sprinkle remaining 2 Tablespoons of cheese over beets and drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Bake 35-40 minutes, until set and lightly browned. Allow to sit 10-15 minutes before serving, to cool slightly and finish setting the gratin. Serve hot or warm.