Does yellow cake seem a little boring to you? I actually loved yellow cake with chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles when I was younger (hell, who am I kidding, it still sounds pretty great!), but I don't make a lot of yellow cakes these days. Until now perhaps. This cake is anything but boring. My cakes domed, and I leveled the tops, and those bites of cake scraps were one of my most memorable cake-eating experiences. So simple, so plain even, and yet so perfect... you really can stop looking for a perfect yellow cake recipe now. I think I have. It uses both butter and oil so you get the moistness that the oil gives (oil coats flour proteins better than butter, resulting in less gluten formation) and the flavor that makes butter so popular. The cake flour adds tenderness, and helps keep the layers level (mine still domed, but I baked it in the bakeshop oven, not my own). And there's whipped cream! To add more moisture, flavor, and great texture. Can't wait to go try whipped cream in my other favorite cakes... but that's for another day.
This Nutella mousse is also unforgettable. It's tempting not to give out the recipe because then you'll see how easy it is to make, and the end result might not seem so impressive. But it's too good not to share, so here it is. I use it over and over again; I was actually quite surprised to see it's not on my blog yet in fact. It more than holds its own as a pie or tart filling; it's delightful between cake layers; it's delicious with nothing but a spoon.
So is this my new favorite cake? Surprisingly, no. I love each component separately, but they didn't quite become more than the sum of their parts when joined. Maybe the yellow cake just doesn't have as much of a shelf life as some cakes, I admit I did not serve it on the day it was made. I'll give it another try, serving immediately. Now, don't let me dissuade you from making this cake; it is wonderful. It's just not quite as amazing as I had expected, given the brilliance of the individual components.
Tomorrow, in baking class, we graduate from cakes. You'll be seeing meringue, cream puffs, eclairs (oh how good this Nutella mousse would taste inside a fluffy crisp cream puff), pies, and tarts. Happy baking!
Yellow Cake (adapted ever so slightly from Shirley Corriher's Bakewise)
4 tbsp unsalted butter cut in 1 tbsp pieces
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup canola oil
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cup cake flour
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350F at least 20 minutes before baking. Spray 2 6" pans with baking spray, line with parchment, and spray again. (You can also make a single 9" layer.)
Soften the butter in a mixer on medium speed. Beat until light in color, about 3 minutes (warning: it's not so easy to beat such a small amount of butter, but give it your best). Add the sugar, and beat until very light. Keep the bowl cool, and scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally (or use a beater blade).
Beat in the vanilla. On medium, mix in the oil.
On low, beat in the yolks, then the whole eggs, one at a time, mixing just until combined.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt until fully combined. Add about half the dry ingredients to the batter, and mix on low until just combined. Add in half the buttermilk, still on low, and add the rest of the dry ingredients until just combined. Finish with the remaining buttermilk.
In a separate bowl (make sure it's cold), whip the cream to soft peaks. Beat just a little longer. Stir in 1/4 of the whipped cream into the cake batter to lighten. Gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream. Pour into the prepared pans. Drop the pans (just a few inches) to knock out air bubbles.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick just comes out clean. The cake should just pull away from the sides when you remove it from the oven. Cool in pan, on a rack, for about 10 minutes, then invert onto parchment paper and remove pan. Cool completely.
Freeze one cake layer for another time.
Nutella Mousse (The Scotto family)
1 jar (13 ounces) Nutella
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1 ounce Frangelico
Beat together the Nutella and mascarpone on high for several minutes until very smooth.
In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream and Frangelico to stiff peaks. Fold cream into the Nutella/mascarpone mixture. Chill for at least a half hour (longer in warm weather). If it's very lumpy when you remove it from the fridge, you can beat it for 30 seconds or so to smooth it out.
1 package Pepperidge farms chocolate hazelnut pirouette cookies
Cut one cake layer into three equal layers. Place one layer on a cardboard cake round. Spread with about one-fourth of the mousse. Top with a second layer of cake, and spread another one-fourth of the mousse on top. Top with the remaining layer, and brush off as many crumbs as you can from the top and sides of the cake. Spread another one-fourth of the mousse on top, and the remaining mousse around the edge. It doesn't have to look pretty, but you need something for the pirouette cookies to cling to. Cut cookies in half, and place around the outside of the cake.
Here's another variation of the yellow cake that two students Jen and Vanessa made for my baking class. It's the 9" yellow cake, sliced into two layers. Raspberry jam and a thin spread of ganache lie between the cake layers, and the whole cake is glazed with the remaining ganache. Yum!
Jen & Vanessa's Yellow Cake
Chocolate Ganache (for Yellow Cake Filling)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Bring cream to simmer in saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; let stand 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Chill uncovered overnight or for several hours until the desired consistency is reached.