Friday, March 9, 2012
Master Recipe Cake and Chocolate Butter Frosting
Oh, how I wanted to love this cake.
The idea of having a go-to recipe for a versatile white cake -- one that could be whipped up in minutes for a frosted layer cake or used as a base for, say, an upside down cake -- is the holy grail for some of us. Yes, this had the potential to be the cake of my dreams. But, like a lot of relationships that seem to have promise, this one suffered from bad timing. I overbaked it not once, but twice. So, it was a tad dry and a tad disappointing, but still the flavor was lovely. The question is: Do I give this another go in hopes that things will improve or throw in the towel and yell "next"?
I was thrilled to find this recipe, handwritten on a page of a 1920 children's cookbook, The Junior Cook Book, I bought last weekend at The Bookseller, a lovely antiquarian and used bookstore in a strip mall in Akron. (Just when I was bemoaning the fact that these kinds of recipes cannot be found anymore, I discovered this treasure -- and the book was only $4 and is filled with the handwritten recipes of one Marie Bevenetto.)
This is a very easy "instant gratification" recipe because one melts the butter instead of waiting for it to soften to room temperature, an exercise much like watching paint dry. The cake is sturdy; hence the suggestion by the recipe author that it can be used as the base for many desserts.
Because I was making this cake for my mother, lover of all things chocolate, I paired this with a chocolate butter frosting that I found in one of her old cookbooks, the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, as in "new" in 1968. The frosting saved the cake, at least according to my cousin Debbie, who stopped over for a slice and "styled" the photo above.
The frosting mixture is below and, yes, there's a raw egg in it. It made for an extra creamy frosting and we all survived.
I tried this cake with all purpose flour and cake flour, but didn't see much difference. In Akron, I used vanilla only for the flavoring, but back in my well-stocked Brooklyn kitchen, I also added lemon extract and it lent a wonderful flavor. You could also try grating some lemon zest into the batter. Do not use pans larger than 8" round, as the layers will be too thin otherwise.
So will I work on the relationship, i.e., make this cake again? I think I'll be moving on. Just as there are a lot of fish in the sea, there are a lot of cakes to be baked, a lot of recipes calling my name. (However, if you're looking for a softer cake with a finer crumb, do try this one. I promise it will not disappoint.)