Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cakes 101 - The Good Stuff (Cake Recipes)

So for me, the good stuff is the cake itself...I can live w/o frosting! I have several tried and true recipes to share...the best part? They all start with a cake mix! (Duncan Hines to be specific).

I tried a couple "scratch" recipes when I was starting to mess around with flavors etc...and really, they were just dry and crumby. When I finally ran across my favorite cake cookbook, The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn , I became hooked on embellished cake mixes! She explains how the emulsifiers and other goodies (okay, not so "good" from a health perspective...but that's a whole other can of worms) in cake mixes have conditioned the vast majority of down-home Americans to prefer the taste and texture of cakes from a mix over from scratch. Now, I don't ALWAYS agree with that...my mother-in-love, Cheri, makes the BEST chocolate sheet cake on the face of the earth...but for the most part, I think that statement is right on the money!

This basic white cake recipe can actually be used with about any flavor or mix with stellar results. I used this as my standby "white wedding" cake...and it never fails to get raves!

White Almond Sour Cream Cake (WASC)

1 box white cake mix (Duncan Hines)
1 c sugar
1 c all-purpose flour
3/4 t salt
8 oz (1 c) sour cream
4 egg whites
1 1/3 c water
3 T oil
1 t pure almond extract
1 t pure vanilla

Stir all dry ingredients w/whisk until well blended. Add remaining ingredients and beat on low speed 2-3 minutes. Stop the machine after 1 minute and scrape the sides and bottom of your bowl really well. Bake at 325 for a bit longer than what's listed on the back of the mix box. The batter is thick and the cake is dense, so you can fill your pans 2/3 full...it shouldn't overflow.

Chocolate version: Use chocolate mix, omit the almond (or keep it if you like choc/almond YUM), and sub 3 whole eggs for the whites.

Lemon version: Use white mix (DO NOT USE LEMON!!), sub lemon juice for 1 c water, use 3 whole eggs and stir in 1 T lemon zest & 1 t lemon extract instead of almond. (THIS IS AWESOME!)

Okay kids, after perusing all my other recipes, guess what? They are all from The Cake Mix Doctor!! I don't feel right (probably since it would be illegal?) posting them so here's the deal...

1. Purchase the book HERE OR
2. See if there is a recipe you want to try on her website HERE
3. Check it out from your library OR
4. Borrow it from me!

I CAN tell you what my favorites are out of the cookbook:
  • Almond Cream Cheese Pound Cake (this was, hands down, The Sweet Ladybug's most requested cake flavor) p. 129

  • Deeply Chocolate Almond Cake (so yummers, but very fragile crumb...after awhile I just made the WASC w/chocolate and left the almond extract in to have a cake that would stay together better) p. 26

  • Triple-Decker Strawberry Cake (perfectly pink!) p. 67

Oh yeah! I DID make some chocolate cupcakes from scratch for Easter that turned out fantabulous! I have some not-so-fun new food allergies and now anything based with a cake mix is off limits (booooo!), so maybe I can update this with some successful scratch endeavors. What worked for Easter was Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake (click HERE).

There you have it! Happy Baking!

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