Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The PERFECT birthday cake recipe
Ask and you shall receive, right?
A couple of months ago, I posted on fb that I was looking for the perfect birthday cake recipe. Now, mind you, I already have lots of yummy, time consuming, from scratch recipes.
But I was looking for something foolproof. Something I could recommend to a friend that usually uses boxed cake mixes. Something that doesn't require beating egg whites to stiff peaks, but not too stiff, and folding them evenly into the matter. Um...I do not have that kind of attention span. It's all I can do to make sure I put 4 eggs in and not 3 or 5. Seriously.
Here I will interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a public health announcement.
What's wrong with cake mixes, you ask?
You would have to be living under a rock to be new to the health risks associated with hydrogenated oils, which are hidden, or right out in the open, in most boxed cake mixes. But if you want a refresher, or just more resolve to make the switch, take a look at these reports:
Mayo Clinic weighs in on trans fats
Down with the basics and trans fats
I'm not worried about a little extra fat around the belly. And I'm not talking about skipping ice cream so you can fit into that dress for the wedding. I'm talking about heart problems. Diabetes. I'm worried about the health of my kids. So, to me, trans fats are serious and not worth bothering with. Yes, I know, everything in moderation. But I feel like my family gets their moderate share of trans fats every time we eat out (yum!). I choose to keep my house free of any trans fatty acids, so that I can relax during the times I can't control our diet- ie. every time we eat outside our own house.
I will now resume regular programming.
So..I need a whole foods based basic cake recipe that is easy enough to memorize, foolproof in that it tells me exactly what to do and when, and comes out perfectly every time.
A family friend, Andrea (who I hope will come and guest blog for us, as she is a wonderful chef), sent me the King Arthur recipe below:
If this looks complicated, trust me, it's not. I made 3 last night after a full day at the office.
This recipe is wonderful. It is so easy, even I can do it in my last minute party prep frenzy. (I tend to get a bit spastic as the party clock ticks down, which is why I plan ahead.)
To make this cake even better, Andrea suggests using a reduction sauce. Here's how it's done- it's easier than it sounds, I promise:
All you need to do is put your sauce ingredients (Andrea suggests using 3 oranges, 2 t. sugar, and 1t. vanilla) in a sauce pan, bringing it to a boil, and letting the sauce reduce down by 1/3 over low heat. Poke holes into the cake and drizzle the reduction sauce over the cake while it's cooling. If you don't have oranges, you can use orange juice, or search the internet for a reduction sauce using ingredients you have on hand.
Why do this extra step, you ask? Well, the beauty of those boxed cake mixes is that they have a long shelf life, which translates into a long counter life once they are baked. But made from scratch cakes can dry out quickly. When making a birthday cake, which is often made a few days before the party, it is helpful to use a reduction sauce to keep the cake moist.
Once the cake cools, I wrap it up and freeze it until I am ready to frost it. Stay tuned for the perfect icing recipe, along with natural icing dyes, later this week.
The reason I don't use the organic cake mixes is because they tend to dry out quickly. My next step will be to try an organic cake mix with a reduction sauce. I'll let you know how it goes. For now, I am really happy with this recipe and I already have it memorized!
Anyone else have a whole foods cake recipe they love?