A Perfectly Sweet Vanilla Cake
This is a home-cook-friendly version of the recipe I adapted from my father's old formula for an American-style vanilla cake. At home, as at Carlo's Bake Shop, it will produce the same moist cake and perfect grain every time. The custard cream is optional.
You might be surprised to learn that I use vegetable oil to take the place of the liquid shortening we use at the bakery, but it replicates the effects better than I ever could have imagined before testing recipes for this book. Use this cake as the basis for everything from birthday cakes to strawberry shortcake.
Be sure the batter is at the indicated temperature before baking or the cake will crown and crack.
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Put the flour, sugar, custard cream, if using, vegetable oil, baking powder,
vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle
attachment. (If you don't have a stand mixer, you can put the ingredients
in a bowl, and use a hand mixer with the blending attachments, but
take extra care to not overmix.) Mix on slow just until the ingredients
are blended together, a few seconds, then raise the speed to low-medium
and continue to mix until smooth, approximately 1 additional minute.
With the motor running, add 1 egg at a time, adding the next one after
the previous one has been absorbed into the mixture. Stop the motor
periodically and scrape the bowl from the bottom with a rubber spatula
to integrate the ingredients, and return the mixer to low-medium speed.
After all the eggs are added, continue to mix for an additional minute to
ensure the eggs have been thoroughly mixed in. This will help guarantee
that the sugar is dissolved and that the flour has been thoroughly mixed
in, which will help produce a luxurious mouthfeel in the final cake.
With the motor running, add the milk, 1/2 cup at a time, stopping the
motor to scrape the sides and bottom between the two additions. Continue
to mix for another minute or until the mixture appears smooth.
Before baking, be sure the batter is at 70°F to 73°F, or the cake will
crown. (Test by plunging a kitchen thermometer into the center of the
batter; if it is too warm, put the bowl in the refrigerator for a few minutes;
if too cool, let it rest at room temperature.)
Grease two 9-inch cake pans (2 inches high) with the butter, and flour
Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans, using a rubber spatula
to scrape down the bowl and get as much batter as possible out. Bake
until the cake begins to pull from the sides of the pan and is springy to
the touch, 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes,
preferably an hour. The cakes should be at room temperature before you
remove them from the pan. Put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie
sheet, top with sugar, and one at a time, turn the pans over and turn the
cakes out onto parchment; the sugar will keep it from sticking. Refrigerate
or freeze until ready to decorate.
This recipe was styled by chef Karen Pickus for Good Morning America.