Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Search for the Perfect Yellow Cake: Part 5

This cake was my favorite so far, but it still has a long way to go. It comes from Martha Stewart. I baked it in my oven, so it wasn't fully done in the middle, but it still had the prettiest, external color out of the five cakes we've made :(.

I picked this recipe because it had oil in it just like what is required in cake-mix cakes. The batter came out so runny that I added a little more flour to make it thicker. It was still not very thick, but I didn't want to change the recipe too much so that I could have a fair judgment of the cake. I forged on with this batter because it reminded me of the batter of my favorite chocolate cake recipe, which is also very runny.

For the frosting, I made the cheap variety like I did in the second cake; however, I also added some leftover frosting I made for another cake (I will blog about this later). So, the texture of the frosting was gritty but tasty.

Let's proceed to the ratings, shall we?

THE GOOD: I liked how moist it was. I liked the flavor. It didn't taste "eggy" like the second one did, and it was pretty yellow for not having dye. Lydia liked it and said it would be a good rum cake. I just took her word for it because I don't drink :).

THE BAD: It was also too moist. Some oil even sort of leaked out of the cake as my fork sank through a piece. That could be because it was not fully done, but I really think there's too much liquid in the batter. My neighbor said this cake was spongy. I think that is a good quality, but he felt it was a bad one, and its spongy state contributed to his lower rating.

Memoria: 7.5/10 (C1: 6.5/C2: 5/C3: 0/Cake-Mix(C4): 8)
Lydia: 7.5/10 (C1: 5/C2: 5/C3: 0/Cake-Mix(C4): 9.5)
Lydia's Husband: 7/10 (C1: 8.5/C2: 9/C3: 4/Cake-Mix(C4): 9)
The Neighbor: 7.5/10 (C1: 8.5/C2: 9/C3: N/A/Cake-Mix(C4): 9)

As you can see, Lydia and I feel more differently about most of these cakes than the two other raters with the exception of this one and the Duncan Hines cake. Case in point, this cake received the highest rating Lydia and I have given one of the from-scratch cakes and the lowest rating from one of the other two judges. I hope that when we find THE cake, we will all be in consensus or at least close enough.

Because Lydia and I think highly of this cake, we plan to work on this recipe to reach the quintessential cake. I will post only the final result. In the meantime, I will have something special for you all on Monday that has absolutely NADA to do with yellow cake.

Martha Stewart's Basic Yellow Cake
slightly adapted and found on Slice of Feist

4 1/4 cups flour (I added an extra 1/4 cup, so I used 4 1/2. I also used half cake flour & AP flour.)
3 1/3 cups sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1 3/4 cups warm water (warm up cold water for 1 minute)
2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cups vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 360 degrees, and prepare cake pans.

In a mixing bowl, sift all dry ingredients together.
I use the whisk to sieve the dry ingredients.

Slowly beat in all of your other ingredients.
I think the the eggs and vanilla should be mixed in a bit before adding the other liquids to avoid small, drier clumps of batter. I also think the amount of liquids should be reduced.

Bake cake at 360 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until slightly brown on top and firm to the touch.
You would think the cake was done at this point, right?

[It was hard to strictly follow these steps above. I really think you should add the wet ingredients in more moderation than is described here. When I revamp this recipe, I will give more detailed instructions.]


  1. Super admiring ur dedication to this task! Can't wait for the final result!

  2. I would have thought the cake done as well.....I have never had great luck with yellow cakes, not that I am a very talented baker....but it looks as though you salvaged the day, the cake looks beautiful!

  3. I'm really enjoying reading about your quest for the perfect yellow cake. This one looks great!

  4. Hats off to you, my friend! You are so meticulous and detailed ... I am in awe. ;) You know what, it's that frosting that got me all excited. I can safely say, regardless of whether you find that perfect yellow cake, you're showing us your perfect frosting skills. I thought your strawberry shortcake cake was sublime, and then I see this ... and two perfectly frosted cakes in a row can't be a fluke! So, kudos!

  5. Wow. I'm starting to get tired of yellow cake for you! What happens to the rest of the cake after you each have a piece? Do you toss it? If you had to finish it I can totally understand how you need some time away from yellow cake!

  6. Hey lady! I'm so sorry this cake didn't work out too well for you! It is a rather spongy yellow cake, which I adore. I usually only use 1/2 cup oil, but you really should stick to the 4.25 cups of flour. I still can't figure out why it didn't cook all the way through for you...I have never had that problem. It might be the extra flour. I agree with you that Martha's directions (adding the liquids to the flours) is the stupidest thing in the world, and each time I do it I wonder "why in the hell do I keep following her directions!" So lately I have been adding the flours to the liquids, like you said. But, this is my favorite recipe of all time (people are always asking me for the recipe at parties) so I think you should give it another go....using 1/2 cup of oil and sticking with the measurements that are called for in the recipe. Sorry again! Slice of Feist hopes to never let you don't in the future!

  7. Kirsten, so far this is my favorite cake. Lydia and I plan to modify this recipe because it had the most promise so far. Thank you for posting this recipe. I'm sure that using less oil will help it out a lot. I keep dreaming about making it again with the modifications. Then, I remember that I will be stuck with a bunch of cake, and that thought prevents me from running in the kitchen haha.

    Maranda - Lydia and her husband have cakes 4 and 5, and they tend to have lots of company and are chummy with their neighbors. She threw away cake 3 because it was so awful. I have 1.5 slices of cake 5, but it will probably go in the trash because my stomach aches every time I look at it hahaha. Even though it was a good cake, I'm not even close to being tempted by it. Thanks for commenting on all my recent posts. You're awesome.

  8. I wish I could be on your committee. Of course we live too far apart. And I'm vegan. Maybe I'll have to make a vegan yellow cake here and have a committee to taste test a segue...and so I won't feel SO left out! ;-)

    (I'm just kidding, you know. I think this is a really cool idea to test different recipes!)

  9. I am enjoying your cake journey my only complaint is that I can't be one of your testers :-)

  10. I had no idea that it was so difficult to make a good yellow cake! I think I might check my Chatelaine cookbook and see what they have. How fun to have this little challenge. I think it is great idea.

  11. Those cakes would disappear in a flash at my house- yellow cake with chocolate frosting is THE CAKE at my house, and my family complains if I make anything else. Thanks for doing all of these comparisons- I can't wait to see which cake gets highest approval!

  12. Saw this recipe for moist yellow recipe, at
    She(Bakerella) was also on the hunt for moist yellow cake. She finally found the recipe from her friend's mom. She(friend's mom) used to own a bakery.

    Moist Yellow Cake

    1 cup (2 sticks) of butter (room temperature)
    2 cups of sugar
    4 eggs (room temperature)
    3 cups of sifted self-rising flour (White Lily)
    1 cup of whole milk (room temperature)
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (McCormicks)
    1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring

    * Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    * Grease and flour (3) 8 inch cake pans.
    * Using a mixer, cream butter until fluffy.
    * Add sugar and continue to cream for about 7 minutes.
    * Add eggs one at a time. Beat well after each egg is added.
    * Add flour and milk (alternating to creamed mixture), beginning and ending with flour.
    * Add vanilla and butter flavoring to mix; until just mixed.
    * Divide batter equally into three cake pans.
    * Hold each layer about 3 inches above your counter and carefully drop the pans flat onto counter several times to ensure release of any air bubbles. This will help you have a more level cake.
    * Bake for 25 – 30 minutes (depending on your oven) until done.
    * Cool in pans for 5 – 10 minutes.
    * Remove and immediately wrap each layer in plastic wrap to seal in moisture. Cool completely on wire racks.
    * Once cooled, you are ready to assemble your cake.

    Here’s a little trick to add moisture into your layers:

    * Combine 1 cup of sugar and 2 cups of water.
    * Bring to boil and boil for approximately 3 minutes. Let cool.
    * Pour liquid into a spray bottle or pouring bottle.

  13. Espero que encuentres el cake perfecto, estos por lo menos se ven increibles. Saludos

  14. Ooh that Bakerella cake is a no go! Don't do it! ha ha!

    That does seem like a lot of liquid in a cake, but that's a lot of flour too. It's hard to give it a fair rating though because your oven is so wonky! You need to bribe your landlord with cake so he'll get you a new one :-)

  15. I'm not into yellow cake,or sweets in general but I read all your post about it; to funny! I can't wait for the final results.

  16. If you are looking for the perfect yellow cake the one at the following link is pretty tasty, the frosting i great too!

  17. Glad to know this is the front runner. I have faith in Martha :)

  18. I saw your comment on the bacon cookies and I was like, right on, lemme see her blog. Then it turned out to be a blog 1) with an Italian name and 2) that I've seen cool stuff on before. Add in the multilingual comments and the search for the perfect version of a recipe, and well, you've got a fan :).

    I'm actually working on a computer program to help me visually compare recipes, I'll see if I can get it working on your yellow cakes.

  19. I'm sure you'll find the perfect recipe soon. You are a very dedicated person! That cake looks scrumptious!



  20. Have you tried this one?

    I really liked it.

    I also made this one - - which is a slight adaptation of my friend JustJENN's recipe; however, it's not as yellow as it could be - maybe somewhere between yellow and white cake. It is, however, delicious!

    Good luck with your search!

  21. WOW! Two women on a mission! I am sooo happy and grateful you ladies did this search. I'm sorry you still haven't found THE recipe, but it definitely seems like you are getting closer. I can understand that you're probably sick of yellow cake by now. Take a break and I'm sure you'll be craving it again soon!

  22. Hey!! I haven't made this cake but I use her white cake recipe religiously. She's amazing and knows what she's talking about!!!

  23. Good to know! I can't wait 'til you find "IT"!

  24. yes! the two above from epicurious and rose are the way to go.

  25. I would put a drop of yellow food coloring, it will make it look much better. The taste will speak for itself. I wonder why the chocolate frosting doesn't seem smooth in texture?

  26. Ok I know now why the texture of the frosting looks gritty. hahaha


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