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wedding cake: the vanilla

September 7, 2011

So apparently I blew past my one-year blogging anniversary without noticing. My bad. Ain’t my fault The Great Migration (a.k.a. move-out day) happened on the same day.

To make up for it, here’s some more cake! And yummy cake, at that. For a long time, yellow cakes gave me a serious amount of trouble. The first version I made from scratch were cupcakes for Chris’s birthday a few years back, just when I’d started becoming rabid about making things without mixes. They were okay, but somehow, they tasted like cornbread (this, despite the fact that there was absolutely no cornmeal or other corn product in the batter). I noticed the same thing for two more subsequent recipes I tried, and I almost gave up on yellow cake from scratch entirely until I tried Deb’s Best Birthday Cake. Ummm, heaven.

But you know what? I think she topped herself with this one. Somehow, with a bunch of super-simple ingredients and a method that doesn’t veer too much at all from the chocolate version, I wound up with a cushy, not-too-sweet-but-otherwise-just-as-good-as-boxed hunk of deliciousness. I think it might have something to do with the reverse creaming method (where the butter and flour are blended directly together, rather than waiting for the butter-sugar creaming that most cakes use) and/or the relatively high number of eggs/yolks? In any case, my mom claims that both flavors were the best cakes she’s ever had–and while I suspect that’s a little bit of motherly hyperbole, she did have trouble choosing between them for her birthday cake a few weeks later, which says a lot coming from a chocoholic in a long line of chocoholics.

Yellow Cake with Mango Curd
[Note: I scaled things down a bit here to make a 6-inch tier; for a more normal-sized cake, look to Smitten.]
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 3/4 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons buttermilk
2 1/2 whole eggs [I’ve heard a rumor that, if you’re really devoted, you can whisk together an egg, measure it that way, then pour out half…but I just try to snatch half the white and yolk with one of the shells because I’m not that devoted]
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 15-oz. ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime)
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1. For the cake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter three 6-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. Combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend for 30 seconds. Add the butter and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the buttermilk. Mix on low speed briefly to blend, then raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and the remaining 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons buttermilk until well-blended. Pour one-third of the egg mixture into the cake batter at a time, folding it in completely after each addition. There will be 1 1/2 cups of batter in each pan.
4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5. Turn the layers onto wire racks by placing a rack on top of a pan, inverting it, and lifting off the pan. Peel off the paper liners and let cool completely. When the layers have cooled, place a cardboard cake board [or a plate] on top of a layer, invert again, and lift off the rack. Repeat the freezing process used with the chocolate layers.
6. For the curd, puree mango, sugar, lime juice, and salt in processor, scraping down sides of work bowl occasionally. Add yolks; puree 15 seconds longer. Strain through sieve set over large metal bowl, pressing on solids with back of spatula to release as much puree as possible. Discard solids in sieve.
7. Set metal bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); whisk puree until thickened and thermometer registers 170 degrees, about 10 minutes. Remove from over water. Whisk in butter one piece at a time. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Source: Smitten Kitchen

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