Being that I'm known in my circle of friends as something of a food lover and able cook, I often get called upon to bring contributions to communal meals or other food events. Nearly once a month, I get tapped to make a birthday dessert and so I'm always on the hunt for a quick, tasty birthday cake that doesn't come from a box. I have a go-to cake for the chocolate lovers but I've always been stymied by from scratch white cakes. They never come out quite right for me and so the search continued.
Until Saturday morning, that is. I needed to make a cake for my boyfriend's birthday party that night, and he had specifically asked for a white cake with chocolate frosting. Simple enough, right? My theory is that when you're working with such a classic combination, you have to do a really great job of it, or it's a let down. I flipped through at least six cookbooks, looking for a recipe that didn't use a pint of cream or require you to separate half a dozen eggs and beat the whites. What I ended up using was the All-Occasion Yellow Cake recipe from the Gourmet Cookbook. It is billed as being "incredibly simple" and it lived up to that promise. It came together quickly, baked up evenly, came out of the pan easily and tasted wonderful. This one is a keeper (and the recipe is after the jump). All-Occasion Yellow Cake
from the Gourmet Cookbook
2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, kept at room temperature for 30 minutes
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup whole milk
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 13- by 9-inch metal baking pan (not dark) or 2 (8- or 9-inch) round pans.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer (fitted with paddle if using a standing mixer) at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla, and beat until thoroughly incorporated, about 5 minutes. Mix in flour mixture in 4 batches alternately with milk at low speed, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until batter is just smooth, then spread evenly in pan.
Bake cake in middle of oven until it begins to pull away from sides of pan and a tester comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes (cake will be pale in color, not golden brown like a cake-mix cake). Cool 5 minutes in pan, then invert onto a rack and cool completely.