Thursday, May 25, 2017

Yellow Cake adjusted for high altitude (5,000 feet)

I don't know about you but I LOVE cake.  My family used to watch Cake Boss and he would get all upset if someone in one of his contests would use a cake mix.  My previous experience with cakes was that cake made from mixes tasted a whole lot better than homemade.  But watching Buddy carry on about how awful cake mixes taste, I went on a quest to find out how to make a fantastic cake from scratch.  With a lot of help from a friend of mine who is a pastry chef, I learned how to put a cake together.  My next challenge was finding a recipe that worked at my elevation of 5,035 feet.  I bought a baking text book that my friend recommended that has a chart for adjusting recipes for altitude.  Finally, I was beginning to bake yummy cakes!  Then I found this yellow cake recipe from Alton Brown and wanted to try it.  After adjusting it for altitude I made his cake.  I decided that it was way too dry (I probably wrote it down wrong) so I have been fiddling with it and now I have my favorite cake recipe!

Making a cake takes a while.. usually about an hour for me - more to cool and frost.    I have a Kitchen-Aid mixer that makes the whole thing much easier.  It can (probably) be done with a hand mixer but I imagine my arm would get really tired because there is a LOT of mixing that goes on to make this cake.

The first thing you do is get 4 sticks of butter, 8 oz cream cheese, and 6 eggs out of the fridge.  Unwrap the butter and the cream cheese  so it can be softening. (Two of the sticks of butter and the cream cheese are for the frosting.)  The second thing you do is separate all the eggs. Put one egg yolk in a bowl by itself, the other 5 yolks go in a different bowl, and the whites in another bowl. Use the single egg yolk to make the pudding (the first thing listed in the recipe to do.)

Making the pudding:
Using a small saucepan, stirring constantly, over med-high heat cook the flour, milk, cream, and sugar until it starts to get thick.  Stir the single egg yolk and pour some of the cooked mixture into the egg yolk stirring constantly.  After you've added half the cooked mixture to the egg yolk, pour the egg yolk mixture back into the small saucepan.  Cook for another minute - stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add butter and vanilla and stir until the butter is melted and the vanilla mixed in.  Set aside to cool.

Starting the frosting:
If you are going to use my frosting recipe, then do the first part: cooking the flour and heavy cream over medium-high heat stirring constantly until it forms a ball.  Put in a small container and cover with plastic wrap - right on top of the cooked mixture so it doesn't form a skin while it cools.  This must be completely cool before adding to the frosting so I do it at this point of the cake baking process.

Measuring the ingredients:
Using a kitchen scale is mandatory.  You can get one from Walmart for under $20 (I think).  It needs to measure grams so check that before you buy one.

Measure out all the ingredients.  The sugar and salt go in one bowl and the flour and baking powder go in another.

Measure the milk, vanilla, and almond extract into the same bowl that has the egg whites.

Prepare the pans:
At this point I prepare the cake pans.  Parchment paper in the bottoms then sprayed with a baking spray.  If I make 24 mini cupcakes (my husband takes them to work) then I use two 8" round pans.  If I don't make mini cupcakes I use two 9" round pans.

Mixing the batter:
Cream the butter until smooth and creamy.

Add the sugar and salt.  Mix well.  Scrape down the bowl several times to make sure it all gets mixed well.

Use a fork to mix the egg yolks and SLOWLY add to the butter sugar mixture.  Then mix for around 2 minutes.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl to make sure it is all mixed evenly.

Sift in the flour and baking soda.  Mix for a few minutes, again scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl several times.

      From here on out, the mixer does not go above the lowest speed.

Add the pudding by the spoonful and mix just until smooth.

Whisk the egg whites, milk, vanilla, and almond extract until frothy then slowly add to the mixing bowl.  When it starts to puddle then stop pouring until the liquid already poured is mixed in.  When half of the egg white/milk mixture is mixed in, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Slowly add the rest of the egg white/milk mixture.  Turn off the mixer as soon as it's mixed.  Do not over mix!!

Baking the cake:
Pour into prepared 9" round pans.  Bake for around 30 minutes... or until done.  Cool completely before frosting.  = )

The only cake better than the Yellow Cake is:

The difference between the two recipes is that this one has ground maraschino cherries in it (add the cherries when you add the pudding), less milk and less sugar.  Everything else is the same.  Since I LOVE cherry cake, this one is my absolute favorite cake recipe!  

Here is the frosting recipe that I use.  The cooked flour/cream mixture you make first helps the frosting be not so sweet.  I put this in all my frosting that I make.

To make it chocolate, melt a large chocolate bar and slowly drizzle it in while the frosting is being mixed.