Friday, 20 January 2012

1 2 3 4 White Buttermilk Cake

I had baked this cake around two weeks ago and was planning to write about it, but as you can see, its a bit involved recipe, and  what with my younger one been just  a year old and the elder one, although only 8 but acts like a pre-teen, I didn't find time to actually sit down and do it.
Now about this cake, culinary evidence confirms the practice of naming cakes, such as this one, for their measurements, dates (at least) to the 18th century. In the days when many people couldn't read, this simple convention made it simple to remember recipes. Pound cake and cupcakes are foods of this genre. In fact, they were composed of the same basic ingredients of this 1 2 3 4 cake. There are several variations on the recipe for 1 2 3 4 cake but "yr basic list" goes like this: 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour and 4 eggs. This combination, in its purest form, produces a chewy dense cookie-type treat or sugar cookies.
The recipe's basic 1 2 3 4 main ingredients have been added to and this cake is made by Two Step Mixing method, which gives us a very moist and tender cake.

1 cup unsalted butter (cold);
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising); spoon into measuring cup and level to rim ( if you do not have cake flour, then take 2 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup cornflour)
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk; well shaken;
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs;
4 large egg whites


Preheat oven to 177 degree Celsius and grease and line with parchment paper, two 9" springform cake pans or normal cake tins.

Remove the butter from the refrigerator, and cut into evenly-sliced pieces . Set aside, and let soften slightly, but for best results, they must remain cool. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the mixing bowl, and mix on low, about 10 to 15 seconds to combine. Make sure you get all of the ingredients mixed in from the bottom of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon or piece at a time into the flour mixture. Keep adding each butter-piece about 10 seconds apart, until all has been incorporated. Half-way through mixing, the flour mixture should begin to look like breadcrumbs and will clump together a little; if the butter is warm, the mixture will become sticky. You should not see any large butter pieces in the mixture. It may take awhile for this to happen depending on how warm the butter is.
When the butter has been incorporated into the flour, sugar and dry ingredients, the mixture will look like fine breadcrumbs. If the butter is warm, the mixture will clump together. I used butter cold from the refrigerator, so the mixture did not clump.
In a 2 cup measuring cup or a bowl with a pouring spout, add the buttermilk, water and vanilla extract, and stir. Quickly add the baking soda, stir until well incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the buttermilk mixture at the side of the bowl into the flour / butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix until the batter is smooth, taking about 4 to 6 minutes. Stop the mixer. 
 Lightly whisk together the eggs and egg whites in a medium size bowl. Turn on the mixer to low, and slowly add the egg mixture at the side of the bowl.
When the egg mixture has been added, scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula because you want to make sure you get all of the ingredients before the last mixing step. Turn the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter for one minute or until smooth and creamy. Scrape the side and bottom of the mixing bowl with a large rubber spatula. Fold the batter one or two times to incorporate all of the ingredients. Then, STOP!
Divide the batter evenly between the pans and gently smooth the tops. The batter will fill the baking pans about half-full.
Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes for two, 9 x 2 -inch layers; 35 to 40 minutes for one 9 X 13 x 2-inch cake, or until the top feels firm and gives slightly when touched and will shrink slightly from the side of the pan. The cake will be slightly browned on top.If you insert a toothpick in the middle and remove, there should be a few moist crumbs attached, but not batter. The cake, when done baking, should not look dry.
Remove the cakes to cool on wire racks for 10 to 15 minutes and then unmold onto wire cake racks, turning right-side-up to cool thoroughly. Be careful, the cakes are delicate when warm.

Cut each cake horizontally into two (you will get four layers). I lost one layer mysteriously, no one came forward to claim the mischief. I assembled the cakes on top of each other with a Strawberry Whipped Cream filling (recipe follows), and then covered it with a basic butter cream crumb coat as I was going to cover my cake with fondant, as my daughter Saee wanted a "flowery" cake.


200 grams fresh strawberries
125 ml low fat cream
1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4th cup sugar

Place strawberries, sugar, vinegar and and vanilla in a saucepan over low heat and simmer till it becomes thick and jam like. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.
Whip the cream and add the cooled strawberry mixture to it. Fold gently. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour before using.

The cake layers store nicely. They can be stored at room temperature for about 3 or more days. The cake layers freeze well for about a month or more. Keep well wrapped.

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