In scratch baking, there are shortcuts and there are loopholes. Many don't work, but this recipe is an exception. With a single and simple cake batter, the home cook can create two different cakes in under an hour. And therein lies the beauty of this "master" cake recipe.
Master Cake Recipe, handwritten in a 1920 cookbook owned by one Marie Bevenetto, is a true culinary building block. This simple and delicious white cake can be used as a base for many other desserts. Marie suggests -- and provides recipes for -- Apple Cake, Upside Down Cake and Boston Cream Pie. I made the first two with great results. Marie labeled the apple cake as "very good" and the pineapple upside down cake as "excellent." My tasters (work colleagues) deemed them both excellent.
The ingredients are basic (with the exception of orange extract; I didn't have any so just left it out). Below is the mis en place for the cake batter.
After mixing the batter, which took all of ten minutes, I got started on the apple cake by slicing one medium apple very thin.
I poured half of the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch square pan. The batter is thick, so use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to push it to the edges.
Place the apples on the batter.
And sprinkle on some cinnamon and sugar. I used white sugar, though brown sugar would also be good.
I set the apple cake aside while I lined a 9-inch round pan (just greased, not floured) with pineapple slices, and filled the empty spaces with brown sugar and chopped walnuts.
I placed the batter atop the fruit, and again pushed the batter to the sides of the pan.
Master Cake Recipe (for Apple Cake and Pineapple Upside Down Cake)
Preheat oven to 350F
Grease and flour 8 x 8 pan
Grease 8 or 9-inch round pan
1 C. sugar
2 C. flour
1/3 C. melted butter
1/2 C. water
1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
1 t. orange extract (can sub extra vanilla instead)
1 t. baking powder
Beat eggs in a mixer.
Add sugar gradually, beating after each addition
Combine flour, salt and baking powder.
Add flour and water alternately to the egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour.
Add butter, vanilla and orange. Mix until combined.
Bake in two layers, or use for the cakes below.
In a greased and floured 8 x 8 pan, place 1/2 of the master cake recipe batter.
Smooth batter so it reaches the edges.
Place thinly sliced apples on top of the cake.
Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon
Bake in 350F oven about 25 minutes.
When cool, slice in the pan and serve plain or with whipped cream.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
In a greased 8 or 9-inch round pan, place whole pineapple slices to cover the bottom.
Fill the center of each pineapple and any empty spaces with 1 teaspoon brown sugar and some chopped walnuts.
Place 1/2 of the master cake recipe batter atop the fruit and smooth it out so it reaches the edges of the pan.
Bake in a 350F oven for about 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and place a plate over the top. Flip to release the cake.