So I settled on a yellow cake from a new cookbook, bake!, by Nick Malgieri. I was drawn to the recipe because it called for lots of deep yellow egg yolks and sour cream. I fear a dry cake and these ingredients generally serve as insurers against dryness.
As the batter came together, I was concerned because it was extremely thick, like biscuit dough. It was late in the afternoon before the party, so I pressed on. Hard tack cake or no.
In retrospect, I think the original recipe inadvertently omitted 3/4 cup of milk. All to the good, however, because the finished “biscuit” cake was moist, with a thick golden crust. It reminded me of a true strawberry shortcake, which is made from sweetened biscuit dough. So I decided to balance out the hearty yellow cake with a double batch of a light chocolate swiss meringue frosting. And because it is finally spring and strawberries are in season, I festooned the cake with those red delights.
I chopped up strawberries and loaded them into the middle layer.
Then, taking a tip from i am baker, I hunted for a forgotten serrated plastic tool that came with a silicone baking set, and put it to good use.
At the end of the day, the cake was a happy accident. The frosting and strawberries were smooth and light and contrasted well with the moist “biscuit” cake. All makings for a happy spring birthday!
Accidental Shortcake Layer Cake
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
8 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup sour cream, room temperature (I increased this from the original recipe)
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Generally grease two 9 inch baking rounds with butter and flour (or use baking spray with flour).
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, thoroughly whisk the sour cream and egg yolks together. Set aside.
4. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until well mixed, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is light and pale in color, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract and scrape down bowl.
5. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add ¼ of the flour mixture, alternating with 1/3 of the sour cream mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat the batter on medium for an additional 2 minutes.
6. Divide the batter equally between the two pans (I use a kitchen scale) and smooth the tops. Bake the layers until they are firm in the center to touch, and lightly colored, 20 to 25 minutes.
7. Cool the layers in the pans on racks for 5 minutes. Remove from layers and place top side up on cooling racks until completely cool.
Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 sticks (1 ½ cups) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1. In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water on medium heat, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees F. on an instant read thermometer).
2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks, about 5 minutes.
3. Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. If the frosting appears to separate after the butter is added (it usually does), beat on medium speed again for another 3 minutes.
5. Add melted and cooled chocolate (I usually chop baking squares into pieces and melt the chocolate in 30 second intervals in the microwave). The recipe makes approximately 5 cups. If I’m making a large layer cake or making a cake with intricate decorating details, I double this recipe.