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Fluffy Yellow Cake from CI March/April 2008
Posted: 27 August 2008 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I finally had a chance to browse through the last few issues of Cook’s Illustrated.  The March & April 2008 issue has a recipe for Fluffy Yellow Cake that looks interesting.  It’s basically a butter cake, but the author of the article wanted to achieve the light texture of a box mix without all the stabilizers and additives.  It’s borrowed from the method used for making a Chiffon cake, substituting oil for some of the butter and incorporating whipped egg whites to lighten the batter.

Has anyone tried it?

I’m coming off a cake hiatus that’s lasted most of the summer to bake a friend’s birthday cake tomorrow.  I was going to make a Chiffon cake, but I think I’m going to try this recipe out.  I’ll report back how it comes out.

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Posted: 28 August 2008 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I have not tried the recipe you mention, but I baked a bundt cake from Lisa Yochelson’s “Baking by Flavor” (p. 402) that was similar to what you describe. It was basically a lemon butter cake, but with whipped egg whites folded at the end for extra lightness. It was one of the best bundt cakes I’ve ever tasted.

Good luck with your project.

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Posted: 28 August 2008 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Both those changes sound interesting and I generally find CI recipes do “work”—you may or may not like them as much as you thought you would, but if you follow the recipe you’ll end up with something good. Haven’t tried that one, though. Let us know how it turns out!

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Posted: 28 August 2008 05:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I just pulled it out of the oven. It looks good, but we’ll see how it turns out.  I realized just before it came out of the oven that I got distracted by a phone call pulling together the ingredients and forgot the *&(*^*%$&^$^%$%#$* 3 Tbsp of vegetable oil that was supposed to go in the mix.

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Posted: 28 August 2008 05:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’ll have to say this about this recipe.  It has the most un-mounded cake top I’ve ever seen come out of the oven.  I usually have to trim a cake made from every other recipe I’ve tried, even with the cake strips (which I did use for these layers).

Will add a picture later.  I have to run to the bank before it closes!

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Posted: 28 August 2008 05:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Dan, the cakes look good and so level. I am curious to know what the texture is like since you forgot the oil.

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Posted: 28 August 2008 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Freakishly level, quite frankly.

We’ll know soon enough.  Birthday party’s at 7pm and I haven’t even started to frost.  Just put layers in the fridge as they’re not quite cool yet.  Kitchen is a disaster.  Ugh.  So much for “mise en place” (sp?).

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Posted: 28 August 2008 07:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Dan O?B - 28 August 2008 09:31 PM

So much for “mise en place” (sp?).

Correct smile

Let us know how you finished the cake.

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Posted: 28 August 2008 11:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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All the whining and swearing (and more swearing) were for naught.  The cake was fine.  I wonder how much more moist it would have been with the extra 3 Tbsp of vegetable oil.

Very nice crumb.  Held up well to frosting.  Might be a little troublesome to use for a tiered cake, but with the right support, I think it could be done.  Don’t know how easily you could do a chocolate version.

Attached 3 photos:  First shows the completely un-humped layers.  Second is decorated cake.  Last is a shot of the cut cake, attempting to show the light and fluffy crumb.

I decorated it with Italian meringue buttercream. I didn’t have enough orange marmalade to fill the cake, so I put the marmalade in some reserved IMBC and hit it with a little Cointreau for some extra orange flavor.  There was Cointreau in the buttercream used to cover the cake, and some bits of orange marmalade from the frosting left over from filling the cake (I didn’t clean the bowl between mixing batches of frosting).

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Posted: 29 August 2008 08:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Dan, thanks so much for sharing your trial run of this recipe with us!  Great photo of the crumb, which apprears light and relatively open.  The super-level layers made a perfectly shaped cake!  I bet your guests enjoyed it.

Would you use the recipe again?  How would you compare it to, say, the downy yellow from TCB?

Best,
Julie

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Posted: 29 August 2008 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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It was well received by the guests, who politely rolled their eyes and groaned as I explained that I screwed it all up by leaving out the 3 Tbsp of vegetable oil.  I would (and will) absolutely make this cake again.  I might even try applying some of Rose’s techniques to convert it over to a chocolate recipe.

I know from reading the forum and from personal experience that some people prefer the style of cake and icing that they’re used to and that’s often a box mix and frosting in a tub (no judgment there - I’ve admitted elsewhere in this forum to having a soft spot for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner).  This recipe is a great alternative to a butter cake for someone that’s looking for a lighter cake.  It’s got a more open crumb than the downy yellow, but it’s still got enough structure to stand up to substantial icing. In terms of taste, I’d say it’s got a little bit less “buttery” flavor than the downy yellow.

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Posted: 29 August 2008 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Sounds yummy Dan - nice piping too!

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Posted: 29 August 2008 04:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Thanks for the recipe review, Dan! Your cake looks lovely.

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Posted: 29 August 2008 07:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Glad the cake turned out well in the end. It looks great.

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Posted: 29 August 2008 08:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Thanks so much for the in-depth notes on taste and texture!

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Posted: 29 August 2008 10:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I have tried this CI recipe, and while it was good, and I have no complaints against it, I still prefer Rose’s All Occasion Downy Yellow Cake as the only yellow cake in my recipe box.  The CI recipe was too much trouble to make, frankly. Again, I have no other complaint against it, nice crumb, nice taste.

And Dan, the above mentioned cake of Rose’s always comes out perfectly level for me as well, as you said, it’s almost scary how level it comes out of the oven.  If you’ve not tried this recipe, you can easily cut it in half and make one layer just to taste.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.

You did a really nice job of decorating it.

MrsM

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