Help me bake a cake! Please!

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Dear ILC,

I do very little (er, zero) baking, and would normally outsource the baking of a birthday cake. This year, I'm going to have to step up and make one myself.

I would LOVE for some ideas and recipes for something can't-fail. Because if it can fail, it no doubt will (did I mention that I don't bake? There is a reason for that).

Ideas? Please? I'm already feeling the nerves.

quincie, Tuesday, 10 September 2013 23:25 (five years ago) Permalink

my mum & nan taught me a pretty easy cake recipe - called the 4 4 4 2 method

4 oz self raising flour
4 oz sugar
4 oz butter (room temperature)
2 eggs
1 tb milk

cream the butter + sugar in mixer: ie beat on medium speed for abt 5 minutes until the butter is pale, almost white.
lower the speed and add the eggs, mix til combined.
slow down the mixer almost all the way and add a spoonful of flour, mix, and keep adding gradually til flour is combined. add the tb of milk once the flour's added. mix for another minute or so til it's all combined into a nice smooth batter.

pour into a greased cake tin (9' is a good basic size) - cook at 350 for 20 minutes (check it after 15)

to test cake for doneness, take a wooden skewer and stick it in the middle of the cake and then pull it out. if it comes out clean, it's done, if there's still wet batter on the stick then cook it another 5 minutes and check it again, repeat as needed til done.

this is for a very plain cake obviously - if you want a chocolate cake do 3oz flour and 1oz cocoa powder

you can make 2 cakes and then put a jam or filling between them, it's a pretty versatile recipe. But it might not be fancy enough for a birthday, maybe it's a good practice recipe? idk. this one's pretty old-timey.

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 10 September 2013 23:49 (five years ago) Permalink

but this was pretty much how I learned to bake cakes as a kid. once you move onto other recipes you'll find that the method is still roughly the same, it's just the ingredients and the quantities change

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Tuesday, 10 September 2013 23:50 (five years ago) Permalink

Thanks VG! Basic is good. Are there cakes that don't involve frosting somehow? Like, er, I dunno the frosting part seems intimidating. OOOOOH maybe I should make a pound cake and just serve it with ice cream? Any good pound cake recipes?

quincie, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:01 (five years ago) Permalink

Hmmmm also self-rising flour is a problem in Mexico. . . I'm sure there are substitutions using regular flour, but that puts the phear in me.

quincie, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:02 (five years ago) Permalink

No shame in using a cake mix imo. People will usually eat whatever goddamn cake you put in front of them, regardless if it's from scratch or not, and they are nearly foolproof. If elevation or somesuch gives you trouble with baking times, the trick where you put a toothpick or buttrknife in the middle to time doneness does work. If it comes out clean, you're good.

even the beatles had a coinstar machine in their living room (Crabbits), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:07 (five years ago) Permalink

I have still managed to fuck up cake mix cakes by doing something like "I forgot to put in the eggs," so I feel you, baking has too many variables for it to be easy and a mix takes care of many of the variables for you.

even the beatles had a coinstar machine in their living room (Crabbits), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:08 (five years ago) Permalink

yeah actually crabbits otm -- cake mixes keep everyone happy, and your variables of ingredient availability, elevation etc are good enough reasons to start there instead of full-on scratch

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:10 (five years ago) Permalink

re frosting: unfrosted cakes are what I grew up with --- a dusting of powdered sugar on that 4442 cake is yum.
and/or a bit of fruit scattered over top is just as good, with a bit of whipped cream on the side, no worries.

you could put food coloring in the basic cake and give it a color, that's also a fun thing

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:12 (five years ago) Permalink

I think the best cake anyone ever made me was a Funfetti mix where they painted a halfassed frowny face with chocolate icing on top and called it Sadfetti. Your audience may be more sophisticated than I am.

even the beatles had a coinstar machine in their living room (Crabbits), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:14 (five years ago) Permalink

this is a delicious cooks illustrated pound cake recipe that I've made a few times -- you can make it in the food processor

to substitute cake flour for all purpose, ratio is 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons of AP flour = 1 cup cake flour. it's not perfect but it'll do if you can't get cake flour

Lemon Pound Cake
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 Tblsp. grated lemon zest plus 2 tsp. lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Lemon Glaze
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 by 5 loaf pan with 1 Tblsp. softened butter, dust with 1 Tblsp. flour and tap out excess.

In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside.

Melt the butter on the stove and stir it up to make sure it's mixed. In a food processor, process sugar and zest until combined. Add lemon juice, eggs, and vanilla until combined. Keep machine running and add melted butter, remove mixture to large bowl. Sift flour mixture over eggs in three batches, mixing just to combine after each step. Pour into breadloaf pan and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes more. When toothpick comes out clean, it's ready. Check after 35 minutes, but I found mine took another 5-7 minutes longer. Cool for 10 minutes, turn out onto wire rack, brush Lemon Glaze onto top and sides with a pastry brush.

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:17 (five years ago) Permalink

kinda disappointed that this wasn't a euphemism, although i'm not certain just what that would be

sorry i'm no help (also pie > cake imo) but i do have a kickass chocolate chip cookie recipe should the need arise

mookieproof, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:17 (five years ago) Permalink

arise lol

i see what u did there

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:19 (five years ago) Permalink

^^^hahaha

VG, I'd actually specifically looked up that CI pound cake recipe, but cake flour is also a non-starter. I found another one (will post recipe in a sec) that I think I will try. I would do some sort of a lemon glaze, but I don't think I've ever seen confections sugar in grocery here! So it may be straight up with ice cream on the side, maybe mango-lime-mint since it is mango season here.

MP if you ever baked me a cc cookie I WOULD DIE

quincie, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:26 (five years ago) Permalink

I mean seriously put that in an online profile and you will be beating them off with a stick. OF BUTTER.

quincie, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:27 (five years ago) Permalink

otm

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:28 (five years ago) Permalink

I think I can manage this, if it agrees to release from the pan:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups butter
6 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups white sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
Directions:
1. Grease and flour a tube or Bundt pan. Do not preheat oven.
2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. add vanilla.
4. Add flour mixture alternately with milk. Beat until smooth. Pour batter into tube or Bundt pan.
5. Place cake into cold oven, set the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake for 60 to 90 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.
6. Top with confectioners sugar or glaze.

quincie, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:28 (five years ago) Permalink

MP if you ever baked me a cc cookie I WOULD DIE

well i am not going to send chocolate chip cookies to mexico but if you ever return you better MAKE SURE YOUR WILL IS UP TO DATE or something

mookieproof, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:30 (five years ago) Permalink

Oh hey see, I've already identified a way in which I could've fucked this up. Mexican sticks of butter are a different weight than U.S.!

xpost oh I will return, and I will eat all of the cookies and die

quincie, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:31 (five years ago) Permalink

I will leave the bad kitty (Maria) to you.

quincie, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:31 (five years ago) Permalink

cake is too hard to make but if you're gonna make one make it a bundt

veryupsetmom (harbl), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:40 (five years ago) Permalink

^^^we are on the same wavelength, you and I

quincie, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:53 (five years ago) Permalink

this is like totally semi-homemade but iirc it is v good (though "iirc" from like when I was 14 so). Does not need frosting; is v moist and rich

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/too-much-chocolate-cake/

https://vine.co/v/hB9QbLYPP0K (Stevie D(eux)), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:59 (five years ago) Permalink

"This cake won me First Prize at the county fair last year. It is very chocolaty." — Denise

HOW CAN YOU GO WRONG?

https://vine.co/v/hB9QbLYPP0K (Stevie D(eux)), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 01:59 (five years ago) Permalink

Oh shit I don't know if there is a bundt pan here? Checking now. . . fuck, no. Also chocolate chips is not something I am totally sure about, although I could probably figure something out. . . pretty sure I can secure choc. pudding. Gonna bookmark the recipe, it could happen! S. looooove chocolate, regardless of brow-level!

quincie, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 02:54 (five years ago) Permalink

It's like the PopeYes of chocolate cakes.

https://vine.co/v/hB9QbLYPP0K (Stevie D(eux)), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 02:57 (five years ago) Permalink

That is setting a high bar, because iirc correctly, PopeYes is awesome and not something I could ever hope to replicate in my own home!

quincie, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 03:00 (five years ago) Permalink

Pope Yes was one of the best popes, it's true.

even the beatles had a coinstar machine in their living room (Crabbits), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 03:01 (five years ago) Permalink

chocolate chips = just get a bar of chocolate and chop it up, it totally does not matter

Dora Viola G. I. de Orellana Dysart Plantagenet Tollemache-Tolle (c sharp major), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 08:20 (five years ago) Permalink

What kind of baking tin do you have? Things cooked in loaf tins always look kinda rustic and charming and therefore need little-to-no frosting, like maybe a dusting of confectioner's sugar if you're feeling faaaancy (nigella lawson's dense chocolate loaf cake is a good option if you want something chocolatey and damp that may sink but still looks super appetizing, and iirc it's not very difficult, and its recipe is available across the internet).

If you only have one round tin then the easiest way to not have to go to the trouble of making buttercream for frosting, while still having it look put-together, is: make sure it bakes until it passes the skewer test, leave it to cool, cut it across horizontally into an upper layer and lower layer, spread jelly along the top of the lower layer (or maybe put some fruit in? maybe some whipped cream? depends how complicated you want to go. NB because of crumbs it is advisable that you use at least one not-totally-dry ingredient to hold it together), put it back together. and then if you want to you can add a ~dusting of confectioner's sugar~ over the top.

Dora Viola G. I. de Orellana Dysart Plantagenet Tollemache-Tolle (c sharp major), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 08:31 (five years ago) Permalink

I do not bake but had to make a birthday cake earlier this year: food friends sent me to this recipe when I said I needed something delicious and foolproof (they know I am a cooking fool).

It went well! I seem to remember the frosting/icing/ganache being weirdly straightforward.

woof, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 09:13 (five years ago) Permalink

http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/DEVILS-FOOD-CAKE-5310

This looks moderately complicated but is not really. You can also mask any imperfect baking with the amazing icing. Secret of a good sponge seems to be a wet mixture.

Inte Regina Lund eller nån, mitt namn är (ShariVari), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 10:46 (five years ago) Permalink

Do you think I can do a pound cake in a springform pan, or is that madness? I'm in a rental house with a limited selection of bakeware, but there *is* a springform pan. Close enough to a bundt/funnel pan?

quincie, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 14:41 (five years ago) Permalink

Oh man those choco cakes look soooooo good, but I phear the frosting. I like C sharp's idea of dressing up a basic pound cake with jam/whipped cream/fruit--I should be able to manage that.

Man I really wish I had some chocolate cake to have with my morning coffee!

quincie, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 14:43 (five years ago) Permalink

Ya I think this thread has inspired me to go acquire a Bundt pan and make that sour cream cake

https://vine.co/v/hB9QbLYPP0K (Stevie D(eux)), Wednesday, 11 September 2013 14:46 (five years ago) Permalink

Put a clean empty can or cup in the center of your springform pan and you've got a tube pan. If you don't want to try that, just keep an eye on the edges and cover with foil if they brown before the center is baked.

Jaq, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 14:59 (five years ago) Permalink

Vegemite, love your 4442, going to try it!

I usually dust cakes with powdered sugar or do the simple powdered sugar and water (or milk) frosting. Sometimes add cinnamon. I like how that frosting melts down the side of cakes too:
http://instagram.com/p/aPTT_xy3x4/

*tera, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 15:53 (five years ago) Permalink

Jaq THANK YOU, that would not have occurred to me!

quincie, Thursday, 12 September 2013 00:40 (five years ago) Permalink

Pound cake can definitely be made in a springform - that's the cake i grew up making and we never had a bundt pan.

and we'd never thought of Jaq's amazing can trick either-- brb, making so many fancy cakes.

Dora Viola G. I. de Orellana Dysart Plantagenet Tollemache-Tolle (c sharp major), Thursday, 12 September 2013 10:13 (five years ago) Permalink

Fucking cake is in the fucking oven. It was hell. God I hate baking.

quincie, Saturday, 14 September 2013 18:52 (five years ago) Permalink

We are so proud of you though!

Baby, where'd you get Chobani from? (Stevie D(eux)), Saturday, 14 September 2013 18:57 (five years ago) Permalink

Awww that is sweet, I'd bake you a cake anytime Stevie but I'd rather go out for awesome chinese food ;)

quincie, Saturday, 14 September 2013 19:05 (five years ago) Permalink

yay quincie!

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 14 September 2013 19:06 (five years ago) Permalink

Stupid cake is too brown on the top (not burned but def over-brown); hope it comes out of the pan OK and I serve it ass end up.

quincie, Saturday, 14 September 2013 20:25 (five years ago) Permalink

Can always gently slice the top off

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 14 September 2013 20:37 (five years ago) Permalink

^^ secret reason for the invention of frosting

Dora Viola G. I. de Orellana Dysart Plantagenet Tollemache-Tolle (c sharp major), Saturday, 14 September 2013 22:58 (five years ago) Permalink

troo

set the controls for the heart of the sun (VegemiteGrrl), Saturday, 14 September 2013 23:04 (five years ago) Permalink

You did it!!!!!!!!

*tera, Saturday, 14 September 2013 23:26 (five years ago) Permalink

We'll see how it tastes. I really admire those of you who bake willing, cheerfully, and successfully!

quincie, Sunday, 15 September 2013 00:49 (five years ago) Permalink


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