While scanning through the recipe book Birthday Cakes: Recipes and Memories from Celebrated Bakers by Kathryn Kleinman, I found a simple yellow cake recipe created by Alice Waters, owner of the world- famous Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California. For Miss C’s second birthday cake I choose to make her this delicious and less fuss 1-2-3-4 Cake.
By Alice Walters
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 cups sifted cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
Turn oven to 350 degrees F. Measure all the ingredients and get organized before you begin to make the batter. The butter should be soft. Cut it into small pieces, and put in a large bowl. Measure the sugar and set aside.
Sift the cake flour, scoop it into a measuring cup, scrape knife across the top of the cup to level it, and measure 3 cups. Put the flour in a separate bowl. Measure level teaspoons of the baking powder and add to flour. Measure the salt and add the flour. Mix together .
Separate eggs. Put the whites in one bowl and the yokes in another. Have the vanilla ready, and measure the milk and set aside.
Butter the insides of two 8- or 9- cake pans. Rub a small amount of butter all over the insides; don’t miss the corners. Then put a tablespoon or do of flour in the pan and turn it all around so the pan is completely dusted with flour. Turn the pan upside down, and tap the edge on the table to let the flour fall out.
Now everything is ready to make the batter. Best the butter with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until very fluffy. Add the sugar and bear again until very fluffy and light yellow. This is what it means to cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and beat them on briefly. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and mix it in well.
Next add the flour and milk in parts. Sift about half of the flour over the butter mixture and lightly stir it in. Exchange the spoon for a large rubber spatula, and pour in about half the milk into the batter. Sift over the rest of the flour and stir it in. Pour in the rest of the milk and gently mix it in.
The last step is to beat the egg whites and fold them into the batter. Put the egg whites in a very clean metal bowl, and beat with a whisk or mixer. They will gradually thicken and get very white as you beat in the sir bubbles. When the whites are very fluffy and will hold a soft peak shape when you lift up the whisk, they’re ready.
Scoop up some of the whites and the spatula, add it to the batter, and very gently stir them in. This will lighten the batter and make it easier to fold in the rest of the whites. Then pour the rest of the whites onto the batter and begin to fold them in. Folding is more delicate than stirring. Use the spatula to lift up some of the batter from the bottom of the bowl and fold it over the egg whites. Turn the bowl a little and fold again. Do that just until the egg whites are mixed in. The air bubbles in the whites will give the cake a light and delicate texture.
Divide the batter between the two cake pans, put in the center of the oven to bake for about 25 minutes. When the cakes are lightly browned, and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, they’re done. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
Note:You can cut the recipe in half to make a single layer cake.
For cupcakes: Fill 24 standard muffin cupcakes three-fourths full.
This cake was easy and enjoyable to make.