Ok, Koukou, here we go.
I'll give you a good basic beginner's yellow cake, that works well. It's not the best ever, but the richer the batter the more sensitive it is to mistakes. And it's a very good cake and nobody has ever complained!
My only doubt is the convection oven. The only one i ever used was in my microwave which has a convection oven function and grill and a ton of other stuff. My gas oven was broken and i had promised to bake a cake and did it in there, and it was not very good, though that could have been because it's a small oven, and the cake was too close to the heating element (or whatever it is that a convection oven has, the convector ? So I don;t know if you have to adapt the temperature. Is there an option to use it as a regular oven without the convecting, whatever that means? Otherwise i hear you have to change the temperature, in which case this is not my area of expertise. My guess is that if you have to choose between it being a little too hot or a little too cold, better too hot or the cake won;t rise, but you'll have to watch it to be sure it doesn't overcook.
Anyway, this is "Light Yellow Cake" from General Mills (1950) Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book. New York: McGraw-Hill (this being copyrighted, I'm citing my source). The recipe is my adaptation for techniques, but the ingredients are the same.
- Preheat oven to 350 F (preheating is really important, so make sure you do this before starting)
- grease and flour two 9" pans: spread butter with a paper towel all over the bottoms and sides of the pans, throw in a little flour and toss it around to coat, and then knock out the excess. You have springform pans, but if you didn;t you might want to cut a circle of parchment paper and put it on the butter on the bottom of the pan and then grease that, so there's no risk of the cake sticking.
- get two racks ready so you can let the cakes cool on them after
- Get your ingredients together:
5/8 cup butter (10 Tbsp; 5 oz) (room temperature or cold but not melted)
1-7/8 cup sugar (that's one and seven eighths)
2 large eggs (about 1/2 cup - if your eggs are small you can use 2 eggs and one yolk)
3 cups cake flour or 2-3/4 cups all purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1-1/4 cup milk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Measure the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl (not the mixing bowl) or use a large measuring cup - mix well - if the flour is lumpy, mix with a whisk. If you don't do much baking, make sure your baking powder is fresh (in 45 years of baking i never had a problem with baking powder, but i suppose if you don't bake it can get damp and will not work - it's not the time but the humidity that make it not work.)
- Measure the vanilla into the milk
cream together the butter and sugar:
- Put the butter in the mixing bowl of the mixer. Start beating it. If the butter has been out of the fridge a while just go ahead and beat it, but if it's cold from the fridge, cut it into a few pieces and if it's especially hard smash it with a spoon a little. Turn the paddle beater (not the wire whisk or the dough hook) and start at low speed. If the pieces of butter just bounce around you need to smash them against the bowl with a spoon first. When there is no more risk of them jumping out you can raise the speed. ,To speed up the process with very cold butter, you can take the bowl and run some hot water from the tap onto the outside of the bowl to warm the bowl a little - less than a minute, don;t melt the butter - and then keep beating. You should beat until the butter is soft. Cold butter and a cold bowl will still get soft from the friction of beating, but i sometimes do this if i'm in a hurry.
- As it's beating add the sugar gradually (maybe over half a minute to get it all in) (you can also dump it in altogether but it's just a little easier if you do it sort of gradually) and keep beating until it appears fluffy. It's not a lot of butter for that amount of sugar, so it won;t get to that silky state like buttercream in this recipe but let it go for a few minutes at the highest speed you can without stuff flying out all over the place.
- Shut the mixer, scrape the sides and paddle with a rubber spatula to be sure you don;t have hideouts of recalcitrant butter or sugar anywhere. Beat a little more to incorporate them. Maybe a minute.
add the eggs, one at a time, and beat till silky and fluffy:
- Stop the mixer. Add one egg,. Beat it a couple of minutes at medium then high speed until you see that the consistency of the mixture is changing and getting softer, smoother and fluffier. Here you have a good excuse to test the batter, you want to make sure there are no sugar granules crunching in there, so if there are, beat a little more, but then go on and add the second egg, and beat the heck out of it, so it's nice and fluffy (add the yolk if you had small eggs) and you should be able to feel it in your mouth as soft and smooth and you will probably be tempted to eat it by the spoonful at this point if you did it right, and that's when you can stop. It's smooth, soft and fluffy. No sugar graininess.
Now comes the delicate part:
stir in the dry ingredients alternately with the liquid (flour mixture and milk mixture) starting and ending with the flour:
- Add about half the flour mixture.
- mix to incorporate it. You can mix by machine but it's really easy to overmix. You don;t want to overmix because you will create gluten and will make a cake that's rubbery and has little channels in it like wormholes and it won't have a nice texture. You do want to mix enough so that there are no pockets of flour (this is why if there are lumps in your flour, you need to mix it up first with a whisk or sift it but that's a real pain - i find sifting is unnecessary if you use the whisk). If you use the mixer use low speed. When you don't see much flour left loose, stop the mixer. If by hand use a spatula and insert it in the middle, scrape it along the bottom and dump what's on the bottom on top, turn the bowl and do it again and again until you have it pretty much incorporated. This will prevent you from beating it which is not good at this stage.
- Add about half the milk mixture
- mix to incorporate, stopping just before completely incorporated (some of the batter will be less wet and some more wet but there is no loose milk sloshing around)
- add half of the remaining flour mixture,
- mix again till almost incorporated
- add the rest of the milk , mix again the same way
- finally add the remaining flour and this time mix until there are no traces of flour left, still delicately or on low, and stopping as soon as you see no more flour this time. Lift the beaters if using the mixer, and scrape into the bowl, scrape the bottom and sides of bowl to be sure none is left. Definitely taste it at this point too, not because it's necessary but because you can say it's necessary (raw cake is almost better than cooked cake).
Pour the batter into both pans so they look like they contain equal amounts. Spread it around so it's even.
Bake in the center of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes
If your oven is big enough you should be able to stagger them so one is towards one corner and the other in the other corner. Neither should be near the oven walls. If the oven is small, you'll have to put them on two racks, but try to stagger so one is not completely over the other. Wait till the minimum time to open the door, but if your oven tends to be hot, check after 25 minutes. It's not a disaster to open the oven before, but don;t let too much heat out. If you're a better housekeeper than me, which i bet you are, you can actually see into the oven through the glass . You should see the cakes slowly rising and the tops rounding off. They will begin to get a little color. If you see color before 25 minutes, the oven is too hot, and you should lower it a little, or they're too near the top of the oven (the cake should be baked in the center of the oven). When you get more confident, and if your oven heat is uneven, you may want to turn the cakes partway through - like after 20-25 minutes - but i don;t recommend it until you feel more confident.
after the minimum amount of time (30 min) test for doneness
This is the scary part, but it shouldn't be a problem unless your oven is not hot enough.
- Open the oven. You should see the cake rounded and somewhat colored, a light tinge of brown. There will be places around the edge where the cake seems to have started detaching.
- stick your hand in and very gently touch the surface in the center. If it feels bloopy, not springy, or if it indents, it's going to need another ten minutes.
- If it seems springy, take a toothpick and insert it into the center. It should come out dry. If not, put it back in - five minutes if a little wet, but not coated, ten minutes if there is raw batter all around the toothpick (next time, raise the heat a little).
remove from oven and leave it to cool for ten minutes.
Remove from the pan, reversing it onto a rack. Let it cool completely before frosting.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan, if it's a springform, unhook the spring and lift off the sides. If a loose bottom pan sit it on a large can and let the sides drop down. Run a thin spatula between the cake and the bottom. Put the rack on top, reverse both together and remove the bottom from the cake.
If it's a regular pan, give it one sharp shake to dislodge it. If it seems stuck, stick a butter knife or a spatula straight down the side then scrape the tip of it towards the center, to separate the parchment paper from the bottom, and do that three or four places around the edge. Give it another sharp shake. Take the rack, put it on top, then turn the whole thing over, and the cake should drop onto the rack. If it doesn't, give it another shake or dislodge with a spatula some more places around the edge. If you're having this much problem the oven was probably too cool. No, not that kind of cool, though that kind of cool is like a too cool oven, very annoying. Next time raise the heat a bit.
Once you've done this all you can just read the parts in bold for the technique. Otherwise it's really annoying!
happy baking (and tasting, half the pleasure of baking)
And Let the magic begin!
Edited by siduri - 3/18/13 at 4:20am