Monday, February 28, 2011
My Dad never had much of a sweet tooth. Whenever a special event was taking place and he would be asked, 'what kind of cake would you like to have?' the answer was always the same-- plain white. When I say plain yellow, that translates according to Dad as, no frills, no frostings, no embellishments whatsoever. And if it were made from a packaged box, even better.
I think for this reason I've never been a big fan of yellow cakes. But then some years ago, I found a recipe in a magazine that offered the most moist yellow cake recipe I'd ever tried, and I've been making it ever since. Dad would probably just love this cake, but if he really had the option of choosing, he'd still stick with 'plain Jane', dry yellow cake.
Last August when juicy fresh peaches were abundant in my neck of the woods, and while it didn't hurt any to have good friends that just happen to have a fruit orchard, I put every last peach that came my way, and there were bushels, to the task. I simply adore fresh peaches. With some of my golden treasures I made peach brandy, a spicy peach salsa, fabulous jellies, I canned many quarts for winter use, froze some for breakfast scones and made an old family favorite -- Amaretto peach jam for holiday gift giving, and was wise enough to put a few jars aside just for us. I'll save the jam recipe for another post, but here's the recipe for the best yellow cake you'll ever want to prepare. Even straight up and simply plain, it's a wonderful recipe. The really special treat for me is this fluffy golden cake, redolent flavor of vanilla, that always makes me go back for seconds.
Moist Yellow Cake
3/4 cups butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs--fresh from the farm, even better
2 cups flour
1 TBLS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy-about 10 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder and add, a little bit at a time, alternating with the milk and vanilla, while beating. Beat until very smooth. Pour into prepared bake pans and bake 30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks for 15 minutes. Then remove cakes from pans and cool completely on racks. While the cake cools, prepare the pastry cream filling. When the cakes are cool, place one on a cake dish. Spread a layer of preserve along with a thin layer of custard. Top with second cake and spread remaining custard on top. You may use any fruit preserve you have on hand, or even a sprinkling of Amaretto, about a tablespoon or so if you don't want to use the custard filling--but for me, this is the best part.
Simple pastry cream
This is a basic all purpose pastry cream that can be used for a variety of desserts: éclairs, cream puffs, Napoleans, fruit tarts, even layered cakes. And you may use any flavorings such as vanilla, almond or anise extracts to taste.
2 cups milk
2 eggs – room temp
¾ cup sugar
½ cup all purpose flour
1 tsp flavoring – or omit.. it’s yummy enough without
Bring milk to scalding stage in a pan or double boiler (Do not allow it to boil.) Beat the sugar, eggs and flour together with a whisk and pour into the scalded milk. Lower the heat and with a wooden spoon, stir continuously until the pudding has thickened. Remove from heat and add your flavoring.
I've used this base yellow cake recipe for numerous dessert dishes here, so use your imagination. Fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced on top of the custard comes to mind vividly ;) or even chocolate custard filling with a simple drizzled ganache topping will just fly off your serving dish. A very lovely orange torte can be assembled easily from this basic cake as well. Slice the cakes horizontally in half once cooled to form four layers,with a drizzling of (about a tablespoon) before spreading the custard of Grand Marnier along with an orange sour cream frosting is just plain scrumptious! Enjoy!