From Angie’s Kitchen – White Cake Revisited

Just like that, round two is done! After round one I wasn’t sure which direction I intended to go in at first, but after some thought I decided that the best thing to try with this recipe was to make the cake lighter if possible. My immediate first thought on how to do that was to increase the butter and the eggs. As you may recall from round one, the original recipe only had 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 egg. Before diving into the concept I did some research to check my hypothesis.

I found that more eggs and more butter are indeed supposed to help with making a cake lighter. I also read that you should make sure to let not only your butter get to room temperature, but your eggs as well. If my wife is reading this, she is no doubt vigorously shaking her head yes! She always does this and I know that you should, but I must admit that I don’t always have the patience to wait – clearly it is time to get some! This recipe also calls for milk, so I started to wonder should that also be allowed to hit room temperature? The research on that one also came back as yes.

My next thought was about the flour – to sift or not to sift, does it really matter? The answers weren’t as clear on this topic when I researched it. Some say you should go for it – it makes the flour incorporate into the other ingredients more easily which helps make what you’re baking lighter. Others say today’s flour is pre-sifted, so there’s no need and a subset of that group agrees with that notion unless you’ve had the flour for awhile and find it to be a bit lumpy, in which case you should go ahead and sift. One of the biggest arguments for not bothering to sift pre-sifted flour was that sifting just gives you another kitchen tool to clean. True, but that argument didn’t fly for me – it’s not that hard to clean a sifter and there’s no harm in sifting the flour, so I just went for it!

Finally, I thought about how you normally cream the butter and sugar together alone in most recipes before adding additional ingredients. The idea behind this concept is that the sugar helps aerate the butter to make it lighter. The original recipe had you mix the butter, sugar and eggs together at the same time, but for this round I waited to add the eggs one at a time after creaming the sugar and butter. Even with doubling the butter to two tablespoons, creaming that amount with a whole cup of sugar took some time to really come together. It wasn’t quite the fluffy mixture you’d find in recipes that use more butter, but with some patience the butter did mix evenly into the sugar.

So how did it all turn out? I decided again to go with the two 9 inch layers and this time I finished it off with a lemon buttercream just to change it up a bit.

The lemon buttercream was nice, light and refreshing. As for the cake itself… After all of my research and procedural changes I found the batter to be lighter and less thick, but much to my surprise the cake was at best maybe only 10% lighter! I guess it would take quite a bit more butter and eggs to really change that. The one nice change was the flavor – the first round wasn’t bad, but I felt like you could taste the flour a bit. The extra egg and butter definitely did help to change that and give it more of a familiar cake flavor.

Overall, I would say this round two experiment was not a great success – not enough about the cake changed to even share the new recipe! If you are interested in trying it for some reason, simply double the butter and eggs from the original recipe and follow the procedural changes I outlined above.

If at first you don’t succeed…. That’s all well and good but just the same, I think I’ll wait awhile before I try try this white cake recipe again! Now I’ll hand this over to Karen – perhaps she found greater success in her second round.

Not a great success” would be putting it mildly in my case. How about “Failure, thy name is Karen” ? That would be more like it. In my mind, I had some great ideas, but sometimes (actually, a lot of times) life does not turn out like we imagine and neither do cupcakes.

Remember that Ray and I do not consult with each other and it is sometimes amusing to see how similarly we approach things. I too decided to double the butter. I also increased the amount of egg, but in my case I used the whole egg from the original recipe and added two egg whites. I also sifted my flour. Twice. I had done a bit of research and learned that bakers emphatically advocate for using cake flour because the protein percentages are lower and provide a more pleasing light and tender structure. Well, I didn’t have any cake flour on hand and wondered if Grandma Angie would have used cake flour. I did however find many instructions on how to make a homemade version substituting 2 TBSP of cornstarch for every cup of flower, so that’s what I did.

I also decided that I did not wish to make the same vanilla on vanilla that I previously made. I just happened to have some Sumo Citrus oranges and thought they were delicious and would make a lovely flavoring. I added the zest along with some juice to the batter, but one thing I failed to do was to deduct the amount of juice I was adding from the milk to keep my liquids the same as they were in the previous batch. That was a mistake. My batter was much thinner and so I couldn’t really use my previous bake as a true guide as to how long I should bake this batch.

The results of my efforts were actually horrible. I checked my bake with a toothpick which came out clean and checked for spring, so I thought they were done, but these cupcakes were definitely under baked. I had planned to frost them, but there was no point. It would be like putting lipstick on a pig! There was really nothing redeeming about this bake.

I do think it is important that we talk/blog about our failures along with our successes. It would be nice if we were perfect and always presented gorgeous photographs of delicious looking food that makes you want to devour it or run into the kitchen with an inspiration to cook or bake it, but that is not who we are. We sometimes fail, but we can also learn from those failures as much if not more than our successes. My biggest takeaway from this little experiment is to not make so many changes all at once. I don’t have a clue which variable did what because I changed way too many variables. Another take away? Go ahead and get the darned cake flour!

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