Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, 2012! Yellow Layer Cake with Fudge Frosting, Redux

Hello, 2012. I made you a cake.

Maybe you recognize it? I made the same cake last year for 2011 and failed miserably. The top layer slid completely off the bottom layer and the frosting was full of crumbs.

But it was so good. The best yellow cake with chocolate frosting I've ever had.

Because that cake was such a failure, my 2011 new year's resolution was to successfully assemble and frost a layer cake. Which I did!

Since I wanted to make a birthday cake for the new year again, I thought... why not give last year's cake another try? I'm more experienced now, and I know how to avoid all the things that went wrong last time.

I failed miserably. Again.

I realize now that it's not really my fault. Fudge frosting just isn't the right consistency to hold a layer cake together. It is, however, the right consistency for this:


It's still the best yellow cake I've ever eaten. And the fudge frosting? It tastes exactly like fudge. Ridiculous.

But just so you know...

This is not the kind of cake you slice into perfect, tiny wedges and serve on expensive crystal dessert plates at a fancy brunch. There are other cakes for those occasions.

This is the kind of cake you slice into however-big-you-want wedges and eat on your couch with a glass of milk,

the kind of cake you eat to celebrate buying a car for the first time (!!!),

and the kind of cake you give to your dad in a Pyrex dish that he can take to work.

In other words? This is my kind of cake.

Yellow Layer Cake
Adapted from Baking Illustrated

1 & 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 & 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into 16 pieces


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and grease the parchment paper. Dust the pans with flour.

2. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl. Measure out one cup of this mixture and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

3. Turn the mixer on at low speed and mix for about 30 seconds to blend the dry ingredients. With the mixer running, add the butter one piece at a time. Continue mixing until the butter and flour combine and form pea-sized lumps.

4. Add one cup of the egg mixture and continue mixing at low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about one minute. With the mixer running, add the remaining egg mixture very slowly, and mix until incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula. Beat the batter at medium-high speed for about 15 seconds more.

5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: If you plan to use fudge frosting for this cake, I suggest making it as a sheet cake instead of a layer cake. To do this, pour the batter into a greased and floured 9x13-inch pan. Since I haven't tried this myself, I don't know exactly how long it will take to bake. I would start at 20 minutes and then check it every 2-3 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you want to make a layer cake, I would suggest using a chocolate buttercream instead of the fudge frosting.

Fudge Frosting
Adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook: Heart Health Edition

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla


1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the granulated sugar and cocoa powder. Add the milk, butter, corn syrup, and salt, and heat to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil for about three minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Cool for 45 minutes.

2. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla to the cooled chocolate mixture, and whisk to combine.

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