Friday afternoon, and I had the house all to myself. When Andy's home, there is always music on. But sometimes when I bake or cook I like to have it completely quiet. There's just the whirring of the mixer, the slip-slop sound of the eggs going in, the birds beyond the storm windows, singing because it was as warm as spring outside. Friday afternoon alone, in the clean, quiet house, waiting for people to come over is pretty nice, I have to say.
I got out my huge new toolbox of cake decorating supplies, but I wound up doing much the same kind of cake I always do: yellow, with buttercream frosting. Not very exciting, of course, but still, a classic. I am a vanilla person, vanilla and almond. It was the first time I used the mini cake-pans and I love them. I used the Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake recipe from A Piece of Cake by Susan G. Purdy, which is, essentially (with some baking powder and salt and vanilla thrown in), 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, and 4 eggs. It makes a thick, delicious batter, enough to fill my twelve little tins.
The recipe called for baking two 8-inch rounds for 35 minutes; I pulled these out at exactly 20 and they were perfect. In fact, I think these are the first cakes of my whole life that did not sink in the middle, at all. Go figure. Still not sure what causes that for me, since it turns out that my oven is a little under temperature when tested, but I might stick with this recipe (or this book) from now on. I didn't grease or flour these pans, either; I wanted their sides to be perfectly golden because I intended to do an unfrosted-sided stack, like this cake from Miette I mentioned a while ago. And anyway, what good is Teflon if you still have to grease and flour everything?
Out they popped, just fine. I sliced off the tops of half of them (something I find oddly satisfying). One "accidentally" got "wrecked" so I "had" to eat it. Then found some seedless black-raspberry jam in the fridge to spread on the inside. In retrospect, I think next time I'll slice even these layers in two, and make each cake a stack of four layers. I think that would look more elegant. But anyway, onto the jam.
I spread a layer of jam on the bottom half of each, then piped my usual spiral on top. Capped it with the topper, then piped another spiral. In the kit from Mom was a jar of gorgeous vanilla-bean paste from Nielsen-Massey, so I added a big blob of that, for those lovely little black bits throughout. I really hate frosting the sides of cakes. Probably because I stink at it. Time to learn that. Then onto their plates for a dusting of powdered sugar and a sugar posie.
These were fun, and super easy. I think next time I'll do dark chocolate cake, with pastry cream between the layers, split four-ways instead of two-, and with this frosting that my mom always made with cooked milk and flour as a base. Need to get that recipe from her. It makes a lighter, less-sweet frosting. And I'll crack out the fancier supplies and learn how to pipe a real rose.