Yellow Cake + Chocolate Icing
Mmmmm… this cake is a classic. And in our household it never gets old! And even when there are much fancier options out there, somehow we always end up coming back to this old favorite.
In fact, yellow cake with chocolate icing ended up being my birthday dessert of choice back in July, AND Chris’s choice this past weekend for his birthday!
I’ll get real with ya for a minute here… the main reason I love this cake is the gobs of Hershey’s icing I slather on it. I think you could put this icing on cardboard and it would be good! And I just want you to know that I will not judge you if you just make a boxed yellow cake as a vehicle for this icing. (Ingredient snobs may shun me after that one, ha! But so be it.)
Buuuuut, if you DO want to go the “from-scratch” route, here’s what I did.
I used the “She Loves Me Cake” from one of my favorite new cookbooks, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.
Rose Levy Beranbaum is famous for writing The Cake Bible back in 1988, and her Heavenly Cakes cookbook is a nice update of some of her older recipes. It also includes lots of fabulous new cakes not published the last time. According to Rose herself, this book’s cakes are more “approachable” than those of The Cake Bible. (But then again, if your measuring-stick is a boxed cake mix, I’d call these decidedly “intermediate level.”) Don’t get me wrong, anyone can make them! They just take a little extra care. 🙂 But I like that.
Rose’s cookbook is dedicated to the art of cake-baking… to perfecting the cake-baking process… to achieving the best possible results! And since this blog is all about artful cooking, of course I’m a huge fan!
She does a few things differently than you’ll see in most common cake recipes. (Most notably, her method of mixing involves combining her flour and butter as the first step, then adding the other ingredients. This, she says, allows the grains of flour to be coated by the butter, helping prevent too much gluten formation during the mixing process. And less gluten in your cake means a more tender crumb. Ok, end of science lesson.)
Why am I going on and on about “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes”? Because I decided a few months ago to bake my way through the entire book! Quite an endeavor considering some of the crazy techniques within. (Spun sugar nests???) But I’ma gonna do it, dagonnit!
If you’re just here for that mouthwatering chocolate frosting (and believe me, I do NOT hold that against you!) then here’s the recipe. Slather it onto anything your heart desires.
* Note: I added two ingredients to this list, because I can’t leave well enough alone. A pinch of salt and a teaspoon of instant espresso powder really do add the perfect level of complexity. I couldn’t bear not to add them. And I’m glad I did. Espresso and salt rule! Espresso and salt for President!
Now for the CAKE: If you’d like to try Rose’s classic yellow cake, here’s my (slightly adapted) version. (I had to adapt it in order to make two 8-inch layers instead of a 13″x9″ as she does in the book.)
Classic Yellow Layer Cake
(Adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes for the Pretty/Hungry Blog)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 35 minutes
-5 large egg yolks, at room temp
-3/4 C. + 1 T. milk, divided
-2 tsp pure vanilla extract
-2 1/2 C. cake flour, (or 2 C. + 3 T. bleached all-purpose flour)
-1 1/4 C. superfine sugar (You can make this yourself by pulsing regular sugar a few times in a food processor.)
-3 1/8 tsp. baking powder
-3/4 tsp. salt
-10 T. (or 1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature. (*Note from Rose- Between 65 and 75 degrees is ideal.)
Two 8-inch round cake pans, sprayed with baking spray and dusted with flour
Preheat the Oven:
At least 20 minutes before baking, move an oven rack to the lower third of the oven preheat to 350-degrees F. (325 if using a dark coated pan.)
Mix and set aside the liquid ingredients:
In a measuring cup, whisk the egg yolks, 1/4 C of the milk, and the vanilla until just combined.
Make the Batter:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds.
Add the butter and the remaining 1/2 C + 1 T. milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Starting on low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.
Use a spatula to scrape the batter in equal amounts into the prepared pans and smooth the surface evenly.
Bake the Cake:
Bake the cakes for approximately 30-35 minutes. You may test its readiness by lightly touching the center, it should spring back. Or you can insert a toothpick or wire cake tester. It should come out mostly clean. However, the cake should not begin to pull away from the sides of the pan until it after is removed from the oven. Take it out if you notice it pulling away while still baking.
Cool the Cake:
Let the cake cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes out of the pans and let them finish cooling on the rack.
Stack and frost with Hershey’s Chocolate Icing (recipe above.)