Now that I've found my "go to" recipe for moist and delicious fool proof chocolate cake, I figure it's time to start experimenting with the other varieties. Like yellow cake, so much more interesting than white cake, if you ask me. So when my new May issue of Saveur arrived in the mail yesterday and I found a recipe for "Yellow Cake with Fudge Icing", I knew it was only a matter of time before I'd make it. As it turned out, it was only a matter of hours, after I ran to the store to pick up the Crisco Vegetable Shortening for this recipe. It wasn't long ago that I would have turned my nose up at this recipe, after reading that it used lard instead of butter, but I am reformed. After all my dry cake disasters that featured butter as their main source of fat, I've come to the realization that a cake recipe that uses oil instead of butter is usually incredibly moist. And given my recent enlightenment, lard isn't such a big leap. After all, isn't it just a solid version of oil?
What I love about this cake is its beautiful, buttery, yellow color. Ironic, I know. At first I was unsure of the texture, it's got a much coarser crumb than my chocolate cake. It's not that soft pillowy crumb. It's much tougher than that. But after a few more bites, I decided that all cakes are not supposed to be the same. If there are hundreds of different flavors, then why can't there be a hundred different textures too? I think this one just falls under the sturdier spongey crumb category and there's nothing wrong with that. Besides, I am probably guilty of over-thinking this. If it tastes good and it's not dry than that's good enough.
I was not impressed with the chocolate "Fudge Icing" recipe that accompanied the cake in Saveur. I didn't make it because the picture looked dry, hard, and far to dark for my tastes. It also said you had to work fast, before the frosting set. Who needs that extra stress? So I made a different one, "Instant Fudge Frosting" and I'm glad I followed my instincts. Throw everything in your food processor and press on. So simple and it is delicious.
Yellow Cake Recipe
(Source: Saveur Magazine, May 2010)
1 c. vegetable shortening, such as Crisco, plus more for greasing pans
2 c. self-rising flour, plus more for pan
2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 inch round cake pans with shortening; dust with flour, shake out excess and line bottoms with parchment. In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat shortening and sugar on medium high until fluffy (1-2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each until incorporated. Add vanilla. Reduce mixer to low alternately add flour and buttermilk in 3 batches. Mix till smooth. Divide batter between pans. Bake until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, (35 to 40 minutes). *I baked for 30. Set cakes on rack to cool completely. Remove cakes from pan.
Instant Fudge Frosting
(Adapted from Sky High Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes)
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
(I only had 2 ounces of unsweetened, so I added 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate)
4 1/2 c. icing sugar (no need to sift)
(I only used 3 cups because I was using mostly semisweet chocolate instead of unsweetened)
3 sticks of butter at room temp.
6 T. half and half (I used 3 because I was using less sugar and didn't want it too runny)
1 T. vanilla extract.
Place all ingredients in your food processor and pulse to incorporate. Then process until smooth.
Lesson: Don't take pictures of cake an hour before dinner, regardless of how good the lighting is, unless you are prepared to let you kids eat your props.