Friday, June 25, 2010

The Search for the Perfect Yellow Cake: Part 2

Okay, here is the second attempt. Click here for the first cake we made.
I didn't get any good photos of this cake because it kept sliding. Someone impatient forced me to ice the cake after waiting 40 minutes for the cake to cool. Needless to say, it was still warm.

This time around, we tried the long-awaited recipe of my partner-in-crime, Lydia. The difference with this recipe was that it wasn't based on making a mix, so I didn't have to use my disastrous powdered milk. Another difference was that this cake required four eggs instead of the two in the previous cake. A plus about this recipe was the amount of vanilla required - 2 1/2 TABLESPOONS!

Surprisingly, this cake didn't come out as yellow as the first one even with two extra eggs. However, even though it was cooked better since we used her oven, it didn't taste better than the first. Because we made the cake at her house, we had to make some modifications. First, we used a hand mixer that caused flour to fly everywhere at the beginning of the process hahaha (everytime I use a hand mixer, I am once again thankful I have not one, but two stand mixers (thanks, mom and Pioneer Woman!). Also, I forgot to bring my cake pans, and she didn't have any (gasp!), so we used a 9x13 pan. The cake thus didn't look as prototypical as the first cake, but I knew that wouldn't affect the flavor and our judgment of the cake. Her husband had to go to the store to get baking powder because I forgot to bring that too, and I had to make a flour/butter base to the pan like back in the old days instead of using my beloved Baker's Joy (such an appropriate name for this spray).

The frosting looks different on this one because I made a simple, cheaper frosting that required only cocoa powder, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and milk. So, there was no melted chocolate and 3 sticks of butter this time around. I also made a cheaper type of frosting so that the testers would focus more on the cake than the frosting because they did the opposite on the first cake haha. Once we find THE cake, we will try it again with the good frosting.

THE GOOD: Lydia loved the salient taste of vanilla in this cake and plans to modify future cake recipes with this amount of vanilla. The texture was much softer and "spongier" than the first. Even with the hand mixer, this cake was easier to put together than the first because the intention of the cake was not to make a dry mix but to make a cake. With a better oven, this cake baked much more evenly. Most importantly, this cake didn't taste like sweet cornbread.

THE BAD: When I took my first bite, I tasted the eggs. I didn't like that issue at all. Also, even with two more eggs than the first, the cake was much lighter in color. This cake didn't knock my socks off at all. I thought the first cake even with its problems was better than this one.

THE UGLY AKA RATINGS (rating of previous cake in parentheses):
Memoria: 5/10 (Mel's Cake 6.5/10)
Lydia: 5/10 (Mel's cake: 5/10)
Lydia's Husband: 9/10 (Mel's cake: 8.5/10) He preferred this cake over the other.
The Neighbor: 9/10 (8.5/10) He's the preferred this cake over the other.

My friend was greatly disappointed and became very sad and despondent after this cake test because this recipe was supposed to be her grandmother's tried-and-true recipe. She stated that she thinks that it wasn't because she remembered it being as yellow as the ones you see on the cake mix boxes. Then, she was forced to suspect that her grandmother had always made those cakes from a mix instead of from scratch. I then told her about my story of finding out that my stepmother, a reported baker of many wedding cakes and such, just doctored up cake mixes. Lydia was really affected by this cake test. I told her that it was okay because we are looking for THE ONE, and that we will find it.

On that note, I think that all these tests will cause us to just create THE recipe at the end of it all. We are taking note of what we like in our attempts and will be adapting upcoming recipes with our preferences. So far we plan to use some egg yolks and more vanilla in our future recipes. I have found quite a few recipes, and we plan to try them all. I hope you're still onboard. I need to hurry up for Esi's birthday, so I hope I can find one soon hahaha.

Here is the recipe, if you're curious.

Lydia's Grandmother's Yellow Cake

1/2 cup of whole milk, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup of cake flour
1 1/2 cup of sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cool

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour your 8-inch cake pans or a 9x13 pan, or use Baker's Joy or the like.

Blend milk, eggs, and vanilla together in a liquid measuring cup. Blend flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in the mixing bowl. Cut the butter into tablespoons, and add the butter to the dry mixture. Mix the mixture well until you form small to medium chunks of butter deeply encased in the dry mixture.
Upon seeing this photo of my friend's hand on my computer, I instantly realized that these moments of making yellow cake will forever be in my memory and thoughts. Even though this photo is blurry, it is so comforting to see her hand caressing my silver bowl. *sniff* haha

Next, mix in ONE CUP of the liquid ingredients. Once mixed, add the rest of the liquid ingredients. Do not overmix!

Pour the mixture into the pans, and bake for 20-25 minutes if using cake pans and 30-35 minutes for 9x13 pan.

"Cheaper" & "Simpler", Yet Still Tasty Chocolate Buttercream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3-4 cups powdered sugar, to taste
3/4-1 cup cocoa powder, to taste
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4-5 Tbsp milk, to desired consistency

Blend the butter on high for about 1-2 minutes. On LOW, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add the cocoa powder. Once mixed well, add the vanilla extract and milk until desired consistency.


  1. I love this series you are doing! I'm sad that Lydia was negatively affected by this cake and that she was sad about her grandma. I'm on to read the other attempts!!

  2. From what I've read, "egginess" is caused by egg whites, not the yolks. So may you could use 2 eggs plus 2 yolks next time to see if that changes anything.

  3. I love the blow-by-blow account of your quest! I'll have to blog about the yellow cake recipe I developed. It's fabulous. But I'll wait until you're past being "sick of yellow cake"!

  4. LOL, you guys were duped by cake mix. Sorry, I shouldn't laugh. Until I started making cakes from scratch I always thought I liked cake mix cakes. I've come to realize that I don't. I'm not so sure anymore that I even like the doctored up ones, either.


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