Test Kitchen–Yellow Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Frosting

I recently had to make a birthday cake to take to a celebration so I went looking for a yummy recipe.  And as I’ve said before, it’s photo’s that help convince me if I will or won’t make a recipe.  And that my friends is why I love Pinterest.  So many pictures, so many recipes, so many creative people! 

Once I found a convincing picture with a recipe that I was happy with, I pinned it on my Party! board went to work. 

I did make a couple modifications to this recipe.  I used margarine in the cake since I was nearly out of butter – I saved the butter for the frosting.   I also used skim milk instead of whole milk, and added an extra teaspoon of vanilla to the batter for good measure. 

I made a 6” double layer cake and 6 cupcakes from this recipe.  I baked the cupcakes for about 11 minutes, and the cake for about 26 minutes.

And how did this cake recipe fare in my book?  The cake was delicious and received a lot of compliments, but it was a bit heavier than I had expected.  I would have preferred a lighter version.  The frosting was perfect because the cream cheese helped cut the sweetness that you’d find in a typical buttercream frosting.


So, are you like me?  Do you need a picture of a recipe to convince you to try it?


Cookbook and Cupcake Crazy

A few weeks ago I bought another, yes, another cookbook.  I can’t help myself.  I’m not a big spender (believe me).  Actually, I might have heard some of my family refer to me as, I hate to use this word… cheap.  I wouldn’t say I’m cheap.  Just cautious.  Do you know how easy it is to accumulate (stuff) you don’t really need? 

I do however, have a slight weakness when it comes to certain things.  Cookbooks happen to be one of those things.  I’m much happier if I can pick one up at a tag sale for a buck.  But in this case I had to pay $4.99.  I know you’re thinking that must be a winner of  a cookbook.  

The cookbook is a gem.  Cupcakes!, written by Elinor Klivans, and photographs by France Ruffenach  is a book dedicated to another favorite obsession of mine. Scrumptious looking recipes, and beautiful pictures all kinds of cupcakes fill the pages.    Cupcakes  is a cookbook I know I will use time, after time.

Alright, enough about my cookbook craze,  and onto the important stuff, my cupcake craze.  For those of you that follow my blog on a regular basis you already know I tend to (tweak) recipes.  I don’t do this necessarily to be creative, but more or less, because I don’t always have the exact ingredients on hand.   I prefer to refer to it as tweaking because  the word alter is a harsh word. 

The first recipe I decided to try out of Elinor’s book, White Christmas Cupcakes.   No, I don’t miss the snow.  And, no I’m not prepared for the holidays.  I simply wanted a white cupcake.  This recipe looked like it fit the bill.  And, I have to say – it sure did.

The recipe is as follows: 

1 1/4 c. cake flour sifted.  (I used all-purpose flour -sifted)

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

3/4 c. whole milk (I used skim milk)

1 tsp. vanilla extract (I used pure vanilla extract)

1/4 tsp. almond extract (I used more vanilla)

6 tbls. (3/4 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temp. 

1 c. sugar

3 large egg whites, at room temp

This recipe was a bit more time-consuming that most cupcake recipes I’ve made, but it was well worth the few extra steps, and minutes.

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into medium size bowl.  In separate medium size bowl, add milk and extracts.  In large bowl add butter and sugar.  Mix  butter and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes. (Until texture gets sugary and forms clumps on the sides of the bowl).  Settle mixture into the center of the bowl.  Now add your flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk in 2 parts.  Set this aside and beat your egg whites with clean beaters until they look foamy and stick to the beaters – about 30 seconds.  Stir the whites into your batter and blend well. 

The recipe’s suggested baking time is 20 minutes.  I set my timer for 15 minutes and checked on them.  At  15 minutes in my oven they were baked to perfection.  My oven tends to run hot though.  Oh, here is a little trick too.  If you don’t have a toothpick on hand to check the centers to see if they are done, use a piece of uncooked spaghetti.  Works like a charm.

The frosting recipe also came from Cupcakes!  I tweaked that a bit too.

The recipe is as follows:

3 ounces of white chocolate chopped ( I used 1/4 cup of chocolate chips)

1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp

4 ounces of cream cheese, at room temp (I used 2 ounces of  light, cream cheese)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

(I also added about 1 tbls. of milk)

To start, beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla extract.  Then add the powdered sugar, and a tiny bit of milk to help the frosting beat easier.  I wanted both chocolate and white frosting so once I made the vanilla frosting I divided the frosting in half.  I added the chocolate chips (which I had melted) into one bowl  and mixed thoroughly.  This gave me two different flavors of frosting to work with.

These cupcakes are delicious.  When I handed my husband his, he asked me why it weighed 5 pounds.  I told him that’s because I put 5 pound of frosting on them…   I decided not to weight myself this morning!

Finished and frosted…

Carrot Cake (Williams Sonoma Baking Cookbook)

350 Degree Oven

2 c. all-pupose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground allspice  (*I used nutmeg)

4 large eggs

3/4 c. canola oil

3/4 c. sugar

1 c. firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 c. buttermilk  (* I used sour milk)

3 c. shredded carrots

Cream Cheese Frosting to top it off which I whipped up from years of practice and no recipe.  Sorry…

In the middle of making a carrot cake

I have procrastinated all day long.  I had good intentions of baking a cake earlier in the day but it’s been a lazy day for me.  The weather is crummy, and frankly, my time this morning was spent watching Runaway Jury.  Good movie…  When I couldn’t make up my mind what kind of cake to make today I  asked my husband.  Would he prefer a yellow cake with a lemon filling, or a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting?  I knew what his answer would be.  Carrot of course!  I found a great recipe for carrot cake in a Williams Sonoma Baking cookbook that I bought for his birthday one year.   I’ve made this cake before and the first time it turned out great – nice and moist..   When the cake is finished I’ll post a picture or two and the recipe. 

I spent some time looking at some vintage recipe books today too.  That’s  a topic I definitely will have to spend more time on in a future post.