A few weeks ago I posted a poll on my instagram on whether I should bake a vanilla cake or a chocolate one to incorporate a box of leftover frozen raspberries in. The result was an unsurprising 50-50, because of course the Social Media Gods wouldn’t help me with my inherent indecisiveness. So, much like every outcome of my life’s dilemmas, I went with both: a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting.
And strawberries, but we will get to that later.
Now, the cake…. eventually, tasted quite good. Bit on the dry side, however, the fruit made up for it. But what made this experience particularly outstanding were the basic baking etiquette I ignored and it cost me a few Adult Points, I’ll admit freely. As someone who doesn’t have all the professional kitchen appliances, I have used hacks that work acceptably enough as a replacement and have successfully done so in previous confectionery related posts.
However, I will concur to the recipe’s instructions in this case by an additional 15% – in that I should have used a large fucking baking pan, and I didn’t.
Although this blog celebrates mediocrity (but does not encourage it every aspect of your life, mind you; hustling is a thing we all need to do no matter what), and that cake was perfectly mediocre and – dare I say – even slightly delicious, I was extremely annoyed at having to find the inside of the cake still gooey and salmonella-friendly after 40 minutes of baking.
Large surface area = faster rate of reaction.
Basic goddamn chemistry and I forgot.
Do you know how bad that sounds? I aced chemistry in high school and uni. And I forgot, like a noob.
The final thing looked like this:
This cake reminded me of why bakers do the things they do, and why they are the way they are. Complete and utter failure aside, here is the recipe* and what you should do to make it somewhere between a decent vanilla cake and my version of it:
Total time: Like, an hour if you’re lucky and actually paid attention to the recipe unlike yours truly
Feeds: 10 people? This cake has two layers. If you want to make a single layer cake, you can half the ingredients.
INGREDIENTS (in metric, obviously)
For the cake:
- 210 g flour
- 2.5 tsp baking powder
- 110 g butter (unsalted is preferred but… eh. Make sure it’s at room temperature or slightly melted though)
- 210 g sugar
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (you can totally skip this for passable results)
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract (or 1-2 tbsp of vanilla sugar if your bank account has like, $12)
- 3 large eggs
- 200 ml milk (this is untested by me but what the hell right?)
- Raspberries/blueberries etc. of your preferred amount. I went with a small bowl because I ate the rest.
For the frosting:
- 100 g butter
- 4 tbsp cocoa powder
- 200 g icing sugar
- I think that’s it? The whole baking process was a blur.
- Oh yeah, strawberries for decoration.
- Preheat the oven to 175° C.
- In one bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Keep it aside.
- Take a large-ish baking pan or oven friendly dish (20 cm in length for best results) and line it with baking paper and butter
- Combine the butter, sugar, oil and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and mix with an electric mixer on low setting for about 3-4 minutes. If you don’t have an electric mixer, do the other obvious thing and use a whisk/ladel and mix thoroughly for 7-8 minutes.
- Add your eggs one at the time into the bowl while mixing in intervals. Make sure it is mostly combined.
- Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time while constantly mixing your batter (or you know… don’t. I certainly didn’t).
- Add your milk, mix again.
- Add your berries and flip through the batter instead of rigorously mixing it this time because fruit is d e l i c a t e or some shit.
- Pour it in the baking pan and put it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. Since this cake has two layers, pour the batter accordingly. Do the math.
- Do the poke test. If it’s not a shitty consistency of moist liquids, but instead a little bit of crumbs, you’re good to go.
- Take it out, leave it to cool.
- Mix all those frosting ingredients properly.
- Make sure the consistency of it is not too runny.
Cover your cake with frosting once cool (outside and in between the two layers of your cake).
(Also there’s this technique to layer your cake, you’re supposed to cut the top half or something, but I can’t be bothered to explain).
Add sliced strawberries to the cake to cover up your mistakes. Here’s what my cake kinda looked like in the end.
Note: Is your cake still gooey inside after after a ridiculously long baking time? Don’t worry, bring it out, leave it to cool, follow the rest of the recipe and pop it in the fridge. If it won’t bake, it will definitely freeze solidly enough to fool everyone into eating raw cake dough. *winks*
In the end I’d like to think we all learned something: you figured out how to make a proper vanilla cake by side-stepping my mistakes, and I learned that I should probably stop using baking as a coping mechanism. My BMI hates me.
* This was the recipe I nicked for this post, but it’s not the same one I used for baking my cake. I can’t find that, and this one looks better anyway. They used the word “moist” a lot.