Monday, March 15, 2010

Rich and Tender Yellow Cake

About a year ago I decided to start making my baked goods from scratch, meaning no more convenient box mixes. I decided to make the change for various reasons. First and foremost, Dan and I were trying to eliminate as much processed food from our diet as we could, which meant most convenience foods had to go. I also didn't like that almost every box mix still had some amount of trans fat. While most people I tell this to think I'm a purest of some sort, or just overall crazy, what made me stick to it was that I really enjoyed the process of baking things from scratch. The funny thing about baking for me is that it's almost like therapy. It's what I do to destress.

The only problem is that when I stopped using cake mixes, I didn't have any recipes to take their place, so the experimenting began. I was lucky because I came across a chocolate cake recipe that I loved (with some tweaking of course) almost right away. But the yellow cake recipe remained rather elusive for quite awhile.

The problem was that I was picky. I knew exactly what kind of cake I was looking for, a perfectly moist, buttery yellow cake, but I was having troubles finding it. Then I came across "Cook's Illustrated's All-Time Best Recipes" magazine with a recipe for a Rich and Tender Yellow Layer Cake. Since they are our gods, I had to give it a try. ;)

Of course, the process to make this cake was rather laborious, but in the long run it was worth it. I have never experienced a cake with such a light, delicate texture. The flavor was almost right on, but lacked some buttery-ness that I had gotten from the box mixes. While I realize that flavor I had gotten from the box mixes were most likely artificially enhanced, I wanted a little more omph from this cake. But the texture was spot on so I decided to turn this cake into the cake of my dreams.

I've made it only a couple of times since then, but I'm still looking for that thing that will make this cake unbelievable. I have experimented with adding almond extract to the batter, which has brought out some of the flavor I'm looking for. I'm almost there, but not quite. I'm kind of at a loss of what to try next, but I have been brainstorming ideas for my next attempt.

Unfortunately, I will not be posting the recipe because of copyright concerns, but I do urge you all to visit Cooks Illustrated to get the recipe. Or if it happens to appear in another one of their magazines, I urge you to pick it up. Dan and I are addicted to their magazines not only for the recipes, but also for the tips they publish from home cooks. And while the magazines can be a tad expensive, we've found them at Sam's Club for a slight discount. It makes it more affordable to feed our addiction.


Unknown said...

This one made me laugh. (and drool a little) We call Cook's Illustrated the Bible. Happy to know we aren't the only ones crazy about their recipes.

We have the online subscription so I will be converting this to gluten free and making it asap!

Great post!

Lo said...

Although I have mixed feelings about Cooks Illustrated, on the whole (blasphemy, I know!), I do think they tend to score when it comes to baked goods. So, it's no surprise that this cake ended up turning out so well. It looks fantastic!