Naughty or Nice Cakes, by Ilsa!
May 4, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This is the very first in what will, we hope, be a series of posts from baking friends. We at Dillywheats are quite actually beside ourselves with joy to present to you the one and only Ilsa!
Says Ilsa: First, we make the batter. This recipe is adapted from a “Classic Yellow Cake Batter” recipe published in Martha Stewart Everyday Food, and is designed to be a real “workhorse” when it comes to all of your serious, no-nonsense cake baking needs. In essence, this batter is the fertile soil in which a whole host of sophisticated and influential cakes are born. To begin, assemble the following Classic ingredients:
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour (spooned and leveled)*
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons hot water
1. Bring cold ingredients to room temperature. Butter should be soft enough to hold a thumbprint but still keep its shape.
2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.3. Beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time, until combined. Beat in vanilla.
4. In another large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. With mixer on low, add 1/3 the flour mixture to butter mixture, beating to combine.6. Beat in 3/4 cup buttermilk, another 1/3 the flour mixture, another 3/4 cup buttermilk, and remaining flour mixture until just combined. Scrape down bowl as needed.
Tada! Cake Batter. Now the magic happens:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter four 2″x 6″ miniature loaf pans. (Confession: I don’t have mini loaf pans. Further Confession: I only just now realized that the recipe called for said mini pans. With this new knowledge, I will say that a mini loaf pan would probably be the ideal vessel in which to perfectly and evenly swirl two cake batters together. BUT, if you use 2 regular loaf pans, you get a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure Cake, and can decide to be “Naughty” or “Nice” by slicing from the more chocolately or more vanilla-y end, respectively.)
7. Whisk the cocoa powder and water together in a large bowl. Stir 1/2 the Cake Batter into the cocoa mixture.
8. Spoon a dollop of each batter next to one another into each pan. Repeat until pans are 1/2 full (or until you’re out of batter or vessels). Either alternate layers of vanilla and chocolate batter, or keep them purely side-to-side for the Choose Your Own Adventure Version. (Okay fine, I have another confession. I didn’t alternate layers of Chocolate and Vanilla because I didn’t read carefully enough, not because I was clever or didn’t know if I was Naughty or Nice. You will probably have a better marbleized inside if you alternate layers, but the swirly top will be just as pretty either way.)
9. Swirl the batters together with a butter knife! Swirl until you are satisfied with the prettiness, but don’t get overzealous- although fun, over swirling leads to muddy-looking cakes and a combination of Naughty and Nice as cloying and tiresome as one of those Betsy Johnson tutus with purses and rhinestones glued to it… or whatever it is that Betsy Johnson is supposed to make.
10. Bake the cakes at 350 for 40-45 minutes.
Get Real with Ilsa: Okay people, let’s Get Real. Since becoming a Suburban Housewife a handful of months ago, I too have found that baking plays a special role in One’s Life. And yet, with no dietary restrictions and living in a small Oregon town where one is never more than 10 miles from a farm, it is rare that I must overcome the baking challenges championed by Dillywheat-ers living in urban OR regular jungles. Despite living “Somewhere That’s Green,” I once lived in a foreign country with decidedly un-American baked goods. While you may have always thought that “Spotted Dick” and “Clotted Cream” are STDs, they are actually popular dessert items in the UK. Moreover, in the UK the term “pudding” refers to most desserts in a catch-all terminology sense, and more specifically is used in place of the word “cake.” But it’s not that simple. Turns out that UK Pudding is a strange and wonderful cake-pudding hybrid, a dense and moist steamed cake-good that is usually served with heavy cream poured all over it (never whipped, but sometimes clotted). I mention this because I landed upon a brilliant buttermilk “substitution” that gave these cakes the dense moisture of a British Pudding without the challenging flavor profile of a Spotted Dick. Instead of Buttermilk, I used 1 part regular milk, and three parts plain, original, Greek Yogurt. It was clever; it was decadent; it was caloric. It was good.But, alas, we have not yet gotten real. The bottom line of this recipe is this: make a cake batter, divide it in two. Give one half of the batter a different flavor/color/identity. The iterations of this simple concept are limitless.