Friday, November 12, 2010

Yellow Butter Cake With Chocolate Sour Cream/Yoghurt Frosting

Wouldn't be Friday night around here without a cake-this one is so easy you can bake it with a fever of 103 degrees F.

I don't know about you, but when I'm sick, I get restless and start re-arranging the cupboards. I don't know why I'm like this. I did manage to clear out a rolling coat rack from the front room which is great because now I have room for another bookcase (three weeks to the next Friends of the Library book sale in Omaha-mark your calendars!).

This cake...oh this cake smells heavenly while it bakes. The whole house smells like butter, sugar, and vanilla which is great because it was raining all day and the wet hay neighbour has sitting in the drive starts stinking like a mixture of moss, Revere Beach at low-tide, and corn nuts. It smells much worse than it sounds. Anyway, the cake was a nice change from the regular air.

I only used yoghurt in the frosting because I had a bit of strained stuff left from a few nights ago and wanted to use it up. I can't tell the difference between thick yoghurt and sour cream in baked goods, and certainly not in frosting, but you could easily use all of one or the other-the combination was nothing more than me being a cheapskate that can't bear to throw out 1/4 cup of yoghurt.

While I'm all chatty, (god, I really am, it must be the fever) let's talk about double boilers. I don't have one. They're silly. For the three or four times a year I need one, I can rig up something suitable with a strainer and a bowl. I don't like a kitchen filled with items I won't use. Sure, every time I scrape my knuckle grating breadcrumbs, I mourn the sad death (after like, 17 years) of the food processor-but not enough to go out and purchase another-not to grate stale bread anyway. To melt chocolate I either use the microwave on half power, or I set it in a small, heavy pan (enamel over cast iron) on low heat, and stir it gently until it melts. I've never in my life scorched chocolate with this method, and even if you were tempering it, the double boiler wouldn't guarantee you better success. Or rather I should say, it wouldn't guarantee me better results. Because I'm blogging about how I bake, you won't find mention of a double boiler for melting chocolate. If you prefer to use one, and it works well for you, by all means do so-but my lack of insistence isn't because I'm unaware of the practise. I bake bread without a stand mixer as well, but that's just masochism.

I adapted this (and I really did make changes, I'm not just copying it word for word) from Better Homes and Gardens Pies and Cakes, 1966

For The Cake:

2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temp
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar (or vanilla sugar if you have it, which I did)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used this in addition to the vanilla sugar for a very strong flavour, but you could decrease as you see fit)
3 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk (I used whole, but you could use any milkfat you like-I think the butter in the cake has you covered for fats)

Grease and flour two 9 inch pans and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream the butter. Add the sugar gradually-about 4 tablespoons at a time (I know this sounds fussy, but it helps incorporate the sugar into the butter). Beat until light. Add the eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract if using. Sift dry ingredients together, and add in small batches alternating with the milk. Don't overbeat the batter. Pour into pans and bake in the centre rack for 30-35 minutes (mine took closer to 40, but best to keep checking). Cool 15 minutes in pans on rack, then cool completely on rack. Trim, and frost.

For The Frosting:

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup thick yoghurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar

Melt together over very low heat, the chocolate and butter, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add yoghurt, sour cream, vanilla, and slat. Mix well. Slowly, with a heavy whisk, beat in the confectioner's sugar until it is thick enough to spread. Keep in mind that it will harden with chilling, so don't go nuts and add five cups of sugar, or you'll have fudge. Fudge is nice, mid-but that's not what we're aiming for here. If you screw-up, just beat in a bit of milk or cream, and pretend nothing happened-I won't tell.

Fill and frost cake, decorate with festive jimmies (because damnit, I paid perfectly good money for these "Fall Leaves", so I'm using them!). Set out at room temperature a few minutes before serving.

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