So, for such a special mom/grandma/great-grandmother, I wanted to create a cake that would not only be pretty but would taste as good as it looked. I turned to my Baking Illustrated cook book, such a trusted resource. I settled on the Classic White Cake, and the recipe did not disappoint in the least. Unlike a traditional white cake recipe, this one does not use whipped egg whites. The egg whites are there, in abundance, but they are blended in gently which the editors of the cookbook explain results in a moister, more tender cake. So, it's less complicated than other recipes - basically a blending of wet and dry ingredients - none of that whipping and folding - and it's a better cake. Win win! I also made cupcakes, fearing that the cake would not be enough for the large Parker family. Here's a photo of the cupcakes, followed by the recipe for Ruth's birthday cake:
I was so happy to hear that Ruth loved her cake, and that the family said it was delicious. Music to my ears! Happy, happy 80th birthday, Ruth Boucher. I hope you have a wonderful year, and many more!
CLASSIC WHITE CAKE
(very closely adapted --almost word for word-- from Baking Illustrated)
Like all B.I. recipes, this is very detailed and provides every step for a successful result.
2 1/4 cups plain cake flour
1 cup milk at room temperature
6 large egg whites at room temperature (important)
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanill extract
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
4 cups (1 pound) confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup blanched almonds, toasted and chopped coarse
1/2 cup seedless raspberry filling
For the cake: adjust an oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans and cover the pan bottoms with orunds of parchment paper or waxed paper. Grease the parchment paper rounds and dust the cake pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
Pour the milk, egg whites, and extracts into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup and mix with a fork until blended.
Mix the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl of a standing mixer set at low speed. Add the butter; continue beating at low speed until the mixture resembles moist crumbs with no powdery streaks remaining.
Add all but 1/2 cup of the milk mixture to the crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using a hand-held mister) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of the milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Return the mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.
Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans; using a rubber spatula, spread the batter to the pan walls and smooth the tops. Arrange the pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If your oven is small, place the pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until a toothpick or a thin skewer inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clear, 23-25 minutes. (NOTE: my oven took 30-35 minutes).
Let the cakes rest in the pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from the sides of the pans with a knife if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Re-invert to additional wire racks. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
For the frosting: Beat the butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla, milk, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer at low speed until the sugar is moistened. Increase the speed to medium-high; beat, stopping twice to scrape down the bowl, until creamy and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. Avoid over-beating or the frosting will be too soft to pipe.
*I did not use this frosting recipe for Ruth's cake. I used my own buttercream recipe that is especially good for food coloring and piping because I decorate so heavily...
For the filling: Before assembling the cake, set aside 3/4 cup of the frosting for decoration. Combine 1/2 cup of the remaining frosting with the almonds in a small bowl and spread over the first layer. Carefully spread the jam on top and cover with the second layer. spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Pipe the reserved frosting around the perimeter of the cake at the base and at the top. Cut the cake into slices and serve.