Originally Posted by rfarlow
Thank you for all the advice!!! This is all really good information. What I am looking for is a basic "birthday cake" or "wedding cake" type of recipe. So, I am thinking from what you all have said that oil is not the way to go. Though I add oil to boxed cake mixes, so what is the difference there? Just curious. So, what if I switch from Crisco to butter? What will that do to my texture? I guess I probably don't want to exchange exactly since the texture of my Crisco cake was too dense and an adjustment is needed anyway. So if I sub butter for the Crisco, would I need more or less to help make the cake lighter? Also, What would adding pudding mix do to this? One more thing....I am using milk. Could the cold milk be toughening it up too? I am not using any water- just milk and eggs for the liquid.
I definitely see your point when you say that I should start with a recipe. I mean, vanilla cake is vanilla cake generally. Because you have to have certain ratios there are only so many variations. My only issue with that is then how do I make it my own? Or is this just a dumb experiment? Maybe I should just find one I like and use it and call it my own for the sheer fact that I made it using my tools and my techniques. It's still a from scratch cake...I guess I just wanted to be able to have my own. It's not that hard to follow someone else's recipe in my opinion. It takes more skill to have your own, obviously.
Oil leaves a greasy feel on the tongue - you may not notice if you;re used to cakes with oil, but once you;re used to butter cakes you will probably find the oil cakes a bit unpleasant. (You might say, better not to know, right? But you'd be losing something if you don't). Also butter has a flavor that is wonderful in cakes while oil is tasteless grease, or has a taste that may not be very good in the cake (olive oil, peanut oil, for instance).
If you're fiddling around with boxed cakes, why are you reluctant to try an actual recipe? A box cake is a recipe that;s already been measured out anyway (and using specially treated ingredients and chemicals because they have to stay in powder form in a box!). Then as you adapt box cakes with your own additions, you can do the same with a recipe cake, but at least instead of the long list of chemical substances you find in boxed cakes you have a much shorter list of good-quality ingredients. Mainly, THE TASTE IS VERY DIFFERENT AND MUCH BETTER!
When i was a kid we used to doctor up boxed recipes, mainly bisquik - we'd make pancakes but add more butter and egg and stuff. But when i came to italy i found i had to make pancakes from a recipe! I had never done that, much as i did a lot of from scratch baking. Well, lo and behold, it was hardly any harder than using bisquik - the only advantage bisquik had was i didn;t have to measure the baking powder and salt. wowee. big deal. Now i think how ridiculous i was for making pancakes using bisquik.
The reason i suggest using a recipe to start with is you have a good model of a good cake, simple, always works, and you can then work from there. You can modify a little at a time.
So, here goes, i'll give you a simple decent vanilla cake. From betty crocker's 1950 picture cookbook.
can't go wrong with this one. For all its simplicity and its total lack of snob appeal, it's a very good cake.
grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans, or one 13 X 9 cake pan
heat oven to 350 F
cream together till fluffy:
5/8 cup butter
1-7/8 cup sugar
beat in one at a time and beat well after each:
Sift or whisk together in another bowl:
3 cups cake flour or 2-3/4 cups regular all purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Stir this into the butter/sugar/egg mixture alternately with:
1-1/4 cup milk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
(add half the dry mixture, stir by hand only till barely combined, add 1/2 the liquid mixture and stir till barely combined,
then half the remaining dry, then the remaining liquid and the remaining dry. Don't beat it, just stir gently.
pour into pan(s) and bake in 350 oven for 30-35 min if you used the round layers, and for 35-40 min if you used the rectangular.
This is a very simple, not very rich basic vanilla cake. Pretend it;s a boxed mix, make it and see how it comes. Then figure how much more butter you can add, maybe substitute volume for volume egg yolks for whole eggs, or use another liquid mixed with or instead of milk, etc. etc etc.
ALTERNATE RECIPE FOR VANILLA CAKE
This is from the same book, but uses the simpler method later made popular by Rose Beranbaum
same pans, same temp
sift or whisk together:
2 1/4 cup cake flour
1-1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup soft (room temperature, not melted) butter
and pour on top of it a little over half of:
1 cup milk
1-1.2 tsp vanilla
beat two minutes at medium speed
add remaining milk and
beat another two minutes
pour into cake pans and bake the same time as above.