One mid-August day, we ventured to NYC on a birthday visit to our daughter, no cake in tow. Unprecedented. How can one have a birthday without a cake? So on this 98 degree day, without air conditioning, we set about to remedy this mistake. Daughter and Dad were on the shopping detail,to purchase whatever ingredients we needed. I got to work immediately. This recipe is the cake we did that day. I hope you'll be as pleased as we were, both with its simplicity and tastiness. This is a wonderful all-purpose cake.
|Egg/sAt room temperature
|Flour, All Purpose, UnbleachedScant
|MilkAt room temperature
|You'll need either two or three 8" round baking pans, depending on whether this is to be a two- or three-layer cake. With the lemon filling, I recommend three layers. With the chocolate ganache, I prefer two layers. You decide.
|Whichever, next cut wax paper to fit the bottom of the pans. Turn one of the pans upside-down. Pull paper from a wax paper roll over the bottom of the pan, just enough to cover the pan diameter. Fitting an edge of the paper to an edge of the pan (so as to waste as little paper as possible), use scissors to cut the paper with the bottom of the pan as a guide. If cutting rounds for three pans, I use the leftover paper from the first two, tape the two pieces together (nothing fancy, just a couple of short pieces of tape), and proceed to cut the third round using the pan bottom as a guide.
|Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
|In a large bowl, place the softened butter. Then I use the butter left on the butter wrappers to grease the baking pans, both interior bottoms and sides. If needed, I use extra butter; best not to skimp. Then place the wax paper on the bottom. Grease the wax paper on the bottom. Then flour the pans by putting about a teaspoon of flour in one of the pans, shaking it around until the bottom is floured, then holding the pan vertically and turning it so that the flour sort of rolls around the sides as you turn the pan. When one pan is finished, pat any remaining flour into the next pan. Any excess flour can be added to the flour for the cake.
|Now for the mixing part! First, place the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium size bowl, and whisk it all together so that it's well combined.
|With an electric mixer, beat the butter until it looks soft and creamy. Add the sugar gradually and continue beating the mixture. This is important. This should be mixed very well, I would recommend five minutes or so. The mixture should look fluffy and yellow. Add the vanilla and mix for another minute or so.
|Continue by beating the eggs in one at the time so that they become well-incorporated. If there is a little curdling, don't worry. Mixing in the flour will alleviate that. However, using eggs at room temperature helps too.
|Mix in the flour with a big spoon, alternating with the milk. Start with the flour, adding a scant cup or so. Mix it in just until it is barely incorporated. Then add about one third of the milk. Then another cup or so of the flour, then the milk and so on, finishing with the flour. One needs to use a light touch here, almost a folding motion.
|Now, spoon the batter into the pans, two or three. I use a rubber spatula to try and get as much of the batter out as possible. Gently place the pans in the preheated oven.
|Now comes the really important part: how long to bake these. If doing two layers, I bake them about 23 minutes or so. I bake the three layers 20 minutes or so. However, I have a convection oven. I believe a conventional oven would need at least a few more minutes.
|To test for "doneness" is somewhat of an art-form. When you open the oven door, you should hear just a hint of bubbles popping as the leavening is completing its work. Using your index finger and just gently pressing the surface, there should be a little give, but mostly solid feeling. The edges may show a hint of receding from the pan, but hopefully not too much, a sign of overbaking.
|the tops should be a golden-brown color. And, of course, the aroma should be wonderful. Take them out and place on separate cake racks.
|Let the layers cool in the pans on the racks for 10-15 minutes. Then, loosen the cakes from the pans around the edges and the bottom. Place the rack over the top of the pan and gently turn the pan upside-down, rest the cake on top of the rack back on the counter, and the cake layer should gently fall onto the rack.
|Let the layers cool to room temperature. Before frosting, be SURE and remove the wax paper from the cake bottoms.
|These make a wonderful three layer cake with lemon filling and white mousseline buttercream frosting. The recipe also makes a wonderful two layer cake with chocolate ganache frosting (including a hint of almond flavoring for the filling). It's like having your cake and truffles too!