Jun 29, 2009

Magnificient Moist Golden Cake with Fudge Frosting

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Though I’ve been skimming it at every opportunity and lovingly stroking the cover for a couple months now, I just recently really got to dig in to Shirley Corriher’s GENIUS book, Bakewise. I’ve decided that owning this book, combined with having Baking Illustrated on your cookbook shelf, is the surefire way to have the Holy Grail recipes of everything you’d ever really want to bake. In addition to perfection-producing recipes, you also get Shirley’s reassuring and straight-outta-Georgia voice, making it equal parts Good Read and cookbook. And I’ve finally gotten to try a few of the recipes and they are like children to me, I love them so.

Shirley’s Magnificent Moist Golden Cake has ended my search for the absolutely perfect yellow cake–sweet, tender and toothsome with a tight, velvety crumb, perfect for layer cakes and cupcakes alike. It’s a true food scientist’s cake recipe, so it took a few tries to wrap my brain around the recipe, but man, is it worth the details. Even though every time I’ve made this recipe, I’ve had to pull the pans from the oven in a panic a minute after putting them in because, really, it’s just not natural to “drop the pans from a height of four inches onto the countertop to knock out the air bubbles” before putting them into the oven (P.S.–if you forget to do this altogether, your cake will still be delicious, though pockmarked with air bubbles, so it’s more of a problem to neglect to do this with layer cakes, and a smaller problem with cupcakes). And the relatively small amount of butter in the recipe being offset by the folding in of whipped cream? I’m listening, Shirley.

My first attempt with this cake was a small 6-inch layer cake that had the husband and I closing our eyes and having a moment of silence upon the first tasting. Nom, nom, nom. It was really something.

The second time I used this recipe was to create cupcakes for a crowd of Southerners at a belated wedding reception and not-a-one purty little cake remained on the platter. And those people know cake.

And since I am a freakin’ American, I believe yellow cake belongs with a milk chocolate frosting. The end. So I tweaked Shirley’s Luscious Chocolate Icing a bit for my tastes, and really, truly, you will never find a more beautiful (and simple!) chocolate frosting. The chocolate is the true star here, there is no butter or confectioners’ sugar involved, and it doesn’t crust or run or do anything but just sit like a gorgeous chocolate pillow atop anything you put it on. I’ve spread it and piped it and swirled it on with a spoon and fallen in love all over again every time. I’ve found that as long as you use the right total weight of chocolate, the chocolates can be interchanged to give you exactly the right balance of bitterness and sweetness that you are looking for. So while I use mostly milk chocolate to pair it with a yellow cake, I might do a higher ratio of semi-sweet or bittersweet to milk chocolate for a deep chocolate cake or somesuch. Love.

Shirley Corriher’s Magnificent Moist Golden Cake

The original recipe calls for a single standard 9-inch cake pan for this recipe, with the intention of slicing the one thick layer into two or three layers. But I’d use a springform pan for the higher side for that purpose, or just use two standard pans and adjust the baking time. Quarter the recipe for a 6-inch two layer cake. The rise on this cake can be pretty amazing, so be conservative with how full you fill your cake pans and/or cupcake liners–I stick to just about 2/3 full in both cases. Unless, you know, you like scraping molten cake batter off the floor of your oven. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Makes 2-3 9-inch cake layers or two dozen cupcakes

2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/3 cup buttermilk, divided
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour, spooned and leveled
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan or two (or three) 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray and dust them with flour, or line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners for cupcakes.

In a large measuring cup or similar vessel, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, 3 tablespoons of the buttermilk and vanilla.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of your standing mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat in the butter, oil, and remaining buttermilk on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened, then crank it up to medium speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add one third of the egg mixture, and beat for about 20 seconds, and scrape the bowl again. Repeat two more times until all the egg mixture is incorporated and the batter is smooth.

In a cold bowl with cold beaters, whip the cream to just beyond soft peaks. Stir a quarter of the whipped cream into the batter to lighten it, then carefully fold in the remaining cream.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans (about 2/3 full for cupcakes). Drop the pans onto the counter from a height of about 4 inches to knock out air bubbles. Bake until the center of the cake springs back when touched and a toothpick comes out clean but moist–about 40 minutes for one thick layer, 25-30 minutes for individual layers, and 17-20 minutes for cupcakes (checking progress early and often). Do not overbake. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Shirley Corriher’s Luscious, Creamy Chocolate Icing

I adjust the proportions of milk and semi-sweet chocolates depending on the sweetness I’m after, and suspect dark and bittersweet chocolates added to the mix would work too. Chips or chopped bar chocolate work equally as well in this recipe.

Makes enough icing to frost and fill 1 9-inch 3-layer cake or 2 dozen cupcakes

12 ounces milk chocolate, chips or chopped
9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chips or chopped
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups sour cream

Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe vessel and microwave on 50% power for 30 second intervals, stopping to stir after every interval, until smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, salt, vanilla and corn syrup. Stir in the sour cream until nearly smooth. Add the melted chocolate. Beat on low speed until very smooth–it will get stiffer as you go, so beat just until it’s a nice spreading consistency and don’t overbeat. Use generously.

  • Thanks for posting this recipe. I've been looking for a tender, moist yellow cake recipe for a long time to go with my boyfriend's favorite caramel frosting. I'll try this next month and hope it'll be The One =D.

  • Mmmm. Looking to make for sons' birthday cake — will batter make a 1/2 sheet and how long would you say to cook?

  • Thank you so much for this recipe!! I loved the texture and flavor of this cake – best ive had and exactly what im looking for in a yellow cake. My only complaint is that my cupcakes were flat – not the domed shape I am used to. They tasted great, but looked a little sunken in -any idea what I could have done wrong? Also I had another question – most recipes that call for buttermilk typically call for baking soda as well – was just wondering why this recipe doesnt have any baking soda? Thanks again for your post – looking forward to your feedback.

    • A trick I’ve used before is to bake for five minutes at 400 and then cook the rest of the time at 350 and I got perfect domes.

  • Lovely cake, but the mix would not be near enough for 2 let lone 3 9″ tins??? I baked in two 8″ and cake rose kust peaking over pan, and then sank a little upon cooling to what ended up as a very moist, dense crumb. Is this right? I loved it but my wife prefers a lighter, fluffier style cake.
    I will try again though. Oh the chocolate frosting is just the BEST!!!

  • iwc レディース

  • I really don’t want to use OIL… but this recipe does sound amazing. Can I just substitute out the oil amount by the same amount of butter??? (or maybe a little MORE butter?? melted butter??)

  • […] Corriher’s magnificent moist golden cake—another reversed method cake, but made with butter, oil and cream in the batter, as well as […]

  • This is one of 3 versions of the cake in the book. I prefer the creaming method, but all 3 of the methods are fine and have their advantages. Her recipe (adapted) for French buttercream is good. I like a low-sugar, egg yolk based true French buttercream a la Jacques Pepin. Goes very well with this cake. And for this cake, the first time I made it was with my mother. We stood in the kitchen and ate nearly the whole cake. It’s that good. Her sour cream pound cake is actually even better. About the 9″ pans, you need one that’s got 2.5-3 inch sides like they sell at Williams Sonoma or other fine cooking retailers. Those shorty pans that you use to make a Betty Crocker cake aren’t the same. You would need two, like this recipe says. Also, you’re supposed to cook this on a well pre-heated baking stone in the lower third of the oven. The cake takes 40-45 minutes when done as a single layer in a nice pan. Buy the book. It is really well worth reading what Corriher says about how to work these recipes. You can probably find it in the library.

  • Sorry I got confused about the pound cake. Her pound cake is very good. The America’s test kitchen cream pound cake is the one I meant to recommend, but Shirley’s is excellent as well.

  • Wow, that seems like so little flour for the amount of cake almost half of what I’m used to and almost half the liquid! I think I would have to test-make it once. I’m skeptical, but intrigued!

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