Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cake Versus The World

While most of the news coverage is focusing on the ten year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, I choose to focus on cake instead. Call me what you want, I just like cake.

Yesterday while trying to figure out a good butter cake recipe to make lemon cupcakes with, I ransacked my mother-in-law’s multitude of cookbooks. Figuring one that looked like a collection of old recipes from various folks in the south was a safe bet, I quickly flipped through it to find one called “Just Butter” Cake. The quotations should have been the first warning flag, but I read the recipe instead. Now, just so you know, I’m not a cake mix snob, but I wasn’t using a cake mix this time, so when the first ingredient was a box of yellow cake mix I should have simply shut the book. Instead, I read the remaining ingredients. Box of pudding, milk, stick of margarine, two teaspoons butter flavor… I’d go on, but really, this isn’t a recipe but more a lack of one. I mean, c’mon. If you’re going to call the cake “Just Butter” put some damn butter in it!

Alas, I closed the cookbook, set it aside, and grabbed an old standby, the Better Homes and Garden cookbook, and just looked for a basic white cake recipe I could alter. I’m still bad at remembering the baking powder/baking soda ratio, but I’ve got the rest down. After reading the recipe, I quickly altered where I could, doubling the butter, using lemon zest for flavor and the juice of two lemons for the liquid, adding just enough milk to reach the required amount. It was delicious. Of course, I may be saying so because I made it, but there were too many other people eating them and commenting on their deliciousness for it to not be true.

Cory’s Lemon Cake

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 cups sugar
2 sticks butter, room temperature
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of two large lemons
juice of two large lemons
enough milk to make 1 1/3 cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. Set aside. Stir the lemon juice and milk together and don’t be afraid, it will curdle quite quickly. Trust me, it will be fine. Beat the butter and sugar on medium high until light and fluffy, about five minutes. With mixer on low speed, add lemon zest and eggs one at a time until well combined. Alternate the flour and milk/lemon juice mixture until just combined. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes. Or fill two 8 inch rounds or a 13 x 9 inch and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out with just a smidgen of clinging crumbs.

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