Well, that’s pretty much the story behind this cake!! This was made for an elderly friend of mine, D, who was turning 81 last month, whom I got lucky to meet early this spring and she touched my heart and left her handprints, sharing the story of her life and passing a bit of her passion too. D is a cancer survivor; the disease damaged her ability to speak normally and chew properly and to worsen her burden, she also suffers from arthritis and yet she continues her passion in life and earns her livelihood and drives around on her own, without depending anyone and more importantly without complaining about her plight!! Directly or indirectly, she helped me look at life with more hope and positive thoughts…….taught me what independence and self sufficiency really mean……taught me what passions mean to one. Now when I get a minor toothache and am forced to chew with one side, I think of this brave strong woman. Honestly, standing there, looking at the surprise and happiness on D’s face that day, really filled my heart!
Ingredients for Yellow Cake (Makes two 8” inch cakes)
(Recipe Source: “Wedding Cakes You Can Make” by “Dede Wilson”)
- 2 ¼ cups cake flour
- 1tbsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¾ tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- ¾ cup whole milk, at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare cake pan by lining the bottoms with parchment paper and grease the sides and sprinkle lightly with flour.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; Set aside.
- Beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes and add sugar and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes ; scrape down the bowl once or twice and then continue beating.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, allowing each eggs to absorb fully with the mixture; scrape down the bowl a couple of times.
- Add the flour mixture in 4 additions, alternatively with the milk and flour, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beat until smooth on low –medium speed after each addition.
- Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pan and level the tops with a spatula. Bake for about 23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted shows a few moist crumbs or the sides of the cake have begum to come away from the sides of the pan, showing a very light golden colour. Cool on racks in pans for 8 minutes before unmoulding.
(Source: Recipe By Tami Smith from www.baking911.com.Click on the link to go to the page for the recipe.)
Note: I halved the original recipe of Tami Smith, to reduce the quantity, so as to avoid refrigerating the leftover and it yields the right quantity for this cake.
Ingredients for Praline
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup dry toasted almonds or cashew nuts
- 1 tbsp water
- Prepare caramel by heating and melting sugar along with water, specified in the ingredient list, until they turn medium brown. Keep swirling the pan but do not stir. When sugar is completely melted and bubbles start coming up and if it has reached the colour you want, turn off the stove and add the dry toasted nuts to it, and pour them onto to a non-stick aluminum foil or a lightly oil coated aluminum foil sheet, placed on a cookie sheet and let it set. While pouring the caramel coated nuts, make sure that a thick layer is not created. When completely dry, crush the caramel coated nut sheet using a rolling pin and then powder them in a food processor or in the smallest jar of a mixer/blender. (Note: Hot caramel can create serious burns, so make sure that you play safe and kids are not around while preparing it. The taste of the caramel depends mainly on the intensity of the colour. If the caramel turns too dark brown, then it will be quite bitter and it is better not to use that batch for this particular cake. Target for a medium brown colour.)
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ to ½ tsp vanilla extract or any flavored liquor or citrus juice
- Boil water in a pan and add sugar and let it boil until sugar melts. Turn off the stove. Just before assembling the cake, add vanilla essence and mix well to the syrup. (Note: Start adding the vanilla essence in small drops as it can be overpowering; add to taste. If you are using flavored liquor, use 1 tablespoon only, just before assembling the cake.)
Baking Schedule I followed:
- Baked the cake one day in advance and when completely cool, double wrapped in a plastic wrap and kept at the room temperature.
- Made buttercream and praline just before assembling everything. You can make the buttercream in advance and refrigerate as well. If you made the frosting in advance make sure that you beat it vigorously with a heavy spoon before using to take away the spongy texture.
VERDICT: This has become one of our family favorites and I have received requests for the recipe after that get-together. I have made this cake twice and from my experience, one good slice is pretty impressive for any informal gathering or small birthday parties or tea-time get-togethers. The cake provides a balanced and neutral platform to absorb the flavour of the buttercream and praline and for the same reason, I feel it will go well with any other more predominant flavours. The yellow cake is soft but it is not extremely moist, like the ready-made cake mix. From my experience, I have noticed that the cake tends to become dry if you overcook the cake even 3 or 4 minutes more but moistening syrup will bring it back to its soft texture. Tamy’s buttercream recipe has been my loyal companion ever since I tried it. I am pretty happy with its consistency and taste. A bite into the soft cake feeling the crunchiness of the caramel and richness of the buttercream is quite satisfying.
Note: If you are not planning to layer the cake, then there is no need for moistening syrup, in which case make sure that cake is not baked more than the specified time.