Sunday, April 7, 2013

eating cake

I've always been fascinated by pictures of cakes in magazines; the tender crumb, the swirls of frosting with coordinating filling separating layer after perfect layer.
Chocolate, carrot, lemon; I love them all with complete impartiality.
I dream of cake.
Somehow though, the reality of cake is usually too sweet for me.
Like being in love with the idea of love, I am in love with the idea of cake.
My husband does not have a sweet tooth either.
Icing is not even on his list of edible things.
Given a choice of all the flavors in the world, he would invariably choose vanilla.
Vanilla ice-cream, plain white cake, simple sugar cookies.
When I was newly married, I was also a new cook.
My husband gamely ate all of my practice desserts.
White cake emerged in time as his favorite and I eventually made every possible variation;
Bonnie Butter Cake, Silver White, Quick White, Dinette, one bowl wonders and complicated foam and chiffon cakes.
Today I was suddenly seized with a desire to make a white cake that had everything good about white cake going for it. I wanted to taste cake and not just sugar. I wanted a tender crumb. But most of all, I wanted to be able to mix it up without searching for my glasses and then for a recipe.
I realized as I measured and mixed, that art and science meet in the kitchen.
Like the simple mathematics of muffins, white cake is also a formula, an equation.

May I share my happy discovery?

Grab a mixing bowl and drop in a half cup of softened butter.
This will make it easier to mix in one cup of sugar.
Blend well, apparently the jagged grains of sugar trap tiny, tiny pockets of air in the butter as you mix, and help to make a fluffy cake.
Then add two eggs and a splash of vanilla.
Vanilla really does enhance sweetness and lets you get away with less sugar.
Mix well.
Then add two cups of flour and two teaspoons of baking powder.
Mix well, although it will be a super stiff dough.
Don't worry if it doesn't completely come together.
Finally, add a cup of milk a few splashes at a time, mixing it in as you go.
Scape batter into a pan.
I used a ten inch glass pie plate which was just the perfect size.
I baked my cake at 350 degrees but it rose up like Mt. Vesuvius and cracked at the peak, so next time I would lower the temperature down to 325 or 330 instead. What's the rush?
When it was golden brown, I plucked it from the oven.
It is everything that a white cake should be;
Moist, tender, delicately sweet and addictive.
Best of all, I now have a formula fixed firmly in mind.
Who cares if my glasses have wafted off into the abyss.

half a cup of butter
one cup of sugar
two eggs
splash of vanilla
two cups of flour
two teaspoons of baking powder
one cup of milk

1 comment:

CitricSugar said...

I do so enjoy the way you write…

And I have a weakness for cake. Huge weakness. :-)