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October/November 2011

Yellow Layer Cake

We were looking for a moist, tender cake that was both foolproof and full flavored. By changing mixing methods and ingredient ratios, we achieved our goal.

Why This Recipe Works

Traditional yellow layer cake should melt in the mouth and taste of butter and eggs. But many layer cake recipes that we tried came out crumbly, sugary, and hard. As for the flavor, they tasted merely sweet. We made a few refinements to the usual yellow layer cake recipe. For starters, we took down the sugar slightly, which allowed more buttery flavor to come through. Melted butter blended more easily into the dry ingredients, and the addition of vegetable oil ensured a moist cake. Whipped egg whites gave the cake a light and airy texture, but left them sturdy enough to stand up to a heavy slathering of frosting.

Ingredients

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Instructions

Makes enough batter for two 9-inch or three 8-inch cake layers

Ingredients

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2 cups (8 ounces) cake flour
1 ½ cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup buttermilk
5 large egg yolk plus 3 large egg whites
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
teaspoon cream of tartar

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Instructions

Makes enough batter for two 9-inch or three 8-inch cake layers

We developed this recipe using Softasilk Cake Flour.

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch or three 8-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pans. Whisk flour, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, egg yolks, melted butter, oil, and vanilla together in separate bowl. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

2. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip whites to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and whip until glossy, stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Whisk one-third of whites into batter. Using rubber spatula, gently fold remaining whites into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans, smooth tops, and gently tap pans on counter to release air bubbles.

4. Bake until tops are light golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes (for 8-inch pans) or 20 to 25 minutes (for 9-inch pans), rotating pans halfway through baking. Let cakes cool in pans for 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, discard parchment, and let cool completely on wire rack, about 2 hours.