As I wrote in my last post, I have been following The Great British Bake Off. I even purchased a cookbook written by past winner Jo Wheatley called A Passion for Baking. All the measurements are in metric. I am really liking that aspect because I get to use my kitchen scale. Using the scale allows me to be more accurate with my measurements. It is particularly helpful with measuring flour.
There are different philosophies regarding how to measure flour into a cup. I used to fluff the flour in the sack with a fork before scooping with my measuring cup and then leveling with a knife. Some people use little scoops to fill a larger measuring cup and then level with a knife. When you use a kitchen scale, you don’t have to do any of that. You just put a bowl on the kitchen scale, zero out the weight of the bowl, and then add as much of the ingredient as you need for the recipe. It is really so easy. And since my scale has the ability to measure in both ounces and grams, I can use a recipe from anywhere.
Today’s cake was a definite winner. It was Jo Wheatley’s Yellow Birthday Cake from A Passion for Baking. The occasion was my father-in-law’s 85th birthday. He requested a yellow cake with chocolate icing.
The thing I liked about this cake, and other’s by Jo, is that they use self-rising flour. This is not an ingredient that is widely used in the US. In fact, I bought my first box for the Chocolate Malt Cupcakes from the last post. I have to say it really is a time saver. I don’t have to add salt, or baking powder, or baking soda. It is pretty darn good.
The only ingredient I did not have for this recipe was the full fat milk. I hate to buy a big container of something when I only need two tablespoons. So, instead, I used heavy cream, which I always have around. I could have watered it down a little bit, but I did not.
The cake icings were pulled from my freezer from past bakes. The Chocolate Caramel Ganache between the layers came from here. And the Chocolate Malt Buttercream on the top and sides came from here. Then I added the Sno-Caps to the cake top and Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies (carefully cut in half with a serrated blade) around the sides. Finally, I added some color on top with sprinkles.
I made the cake on Saturday and then covered it with plastic wrap and put it into the refrigerator until Sunday morning. This time allowed the Pirouette cookies to soften. That was one of the best surprises. The cookies out of the can are hard and crisp, but now since they softened, they added a nice slightly crisp texture to the cake. And the placement of the cookies aided in cutting the cake because I knew exactly how big each piece was by the number of cookies on the outside.
The cake was delicious and the icings were great. This is definitely a combination I can do again for another birthday. Yum, yum!
Yellow Birthday Cake by Jo Wheatley from A Passion for Baking
250 grams margarine or unsalted butter, softened
225 grams caster sugar (or granulated sugar)
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
225 grams self-raising flour
2 tbsp full-fat milk
Recipes are indicated in links above
Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes – Chocolate Fudge
Sno-Cap candies, – one box
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Place the oven rack in the middle.
Grease two 8” cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Then grease the parchment. (You can use a baking spray for this. I like to use Baker’s Joy.)
In the bowl of a free-standing mixer, cream the softened margarine or butter and sugar together until pale, light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract. Add the flour and milk and mix until light and fluffy.
Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans, spread level and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 22-25 minutes until golden and a skewer comes away clean when inserted into the middle of the cakes. (For this step, I like to place the pans on my kitchen scale to make sure they are the same weight filled. It is ok if they are off by a gram or two. Then to test for doneness, make sure the cake has come away from the sides of the pan, in addition to it being nicely browned).
Turn the cakes out of the pans onto a wire cooling rack and leave until cold. (I left mine in the pans until I could touch them and easily turn the cakes out, about 15 minutes).
When the cakes have cooled, place on on the cake plate. Slide three strips of wax paper under the cake so that all cake edges are sitting on the paper. This will prevent the plate from getting icing on it.
Add Chocolate Caramel Ganache on top of the first layer. It should be about 1/4 inch thick. Then place the second cake layer on top. Add the Chocolate Malt Buttercream to the top and sides of the two layer cake. Use an off set icing spatula to do this. Add the Sno-Caps individually to the top of the cake. Then place the Pirouette cookies around the outside of the cake. Finally, sprinkle some colored sprinkles on top of the cake. Carefully remove the strips of wax paper. Wrap the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Allow it to come to room temperature before serving.