Baking The White Whale

Decorating By OneHotMess Updated 2 Apr 2014 , 2:50am by Eachna

OneHotMess Posted 20 Mar 2014 , 8:38pm
post #1 of 69

Inspired by costumeczar, AZCouture, and a strange discussion about moisture test-strips for cake, comes the ultimate question: What's your baking “White Whale”? The cake that is supposed to be so simple, so delicious, so tried-and-true...but no matter what you do or try, you can't master it. You've baked it by cups and spoons. You've baked it by weights and measures. You've baked it by voudoun magic under the light of a full moon. The oven service company knows your phone number – and to avoid it – because no amount of temperature calibration will make your facial tic go away.

 

You march into your kitchen, wielding your spoons as Ahab wielded his whale-bone leg, crying “Harpoons!” convinced that this time, it's all gonna be all right. You've got this. You're gonna capture the magic. Later, you come out...well...just crying. You've single-handedly kept whole dry-goods stores in business by repeat ingredient purchases. You swear you'll burn that cookbook...after just one more try.

 

For me, it's Rose Levy Beranbaum's All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake. The only occasion this cake celebrates for me is “Abject Sorrow and Misery, in the key of Cake-Flat.” It's a dry, leaden, crumbling brick of horrors. Soaked in anything, it's wallpaper paste. Plain, it causes the kind of hacking reserved for those with COPD or hairballs. Frosted, it's a horrible blonde tease. It looks back at you, feigning moistness, winking at you from under its shimmering cap of buttercream-y deliciousness...and you take that first bite, thinking, “This time, it'll be different. I'm so glad I came back to you!” And then...the throat-clogging crumbs. Your eyes water, you're projectile cough-spewing half chewed cake bits across your kitchen, your neighbors are staring slack-jawed as a Downy Yellow Butter Cake becomes a Downy Yellow Lawn Dart...

 

I'm so glad I met Toba's yellow cake. Saved me from a twelve-step group for people who need anger management and lessons in the socially appropriate treatment of stand-mixers.

 

Your turn! And, a favor - please, if you've figured out a way to make that honkin', bleepin', frick-a-frack, yellow brick of eee-vihl cake work, please. Please. Let me know. There goes that tic, again. :cry: 

68 replies
natt12321 Posted 20 Mar 2014 , 9:22pm
post #2 of 69

Quote:

Originally Posted by OneHotMess 
I'm so glad I met Toba's yellow cake. Saved me from a twelve-step group for people who need anger management and lessons in the socially appropriate treatment of stand-mixers.

THIS made me laugh so much!

For me it's red velvet, I blame it on the fact it is a) American and I find recipes don't cross the pond very well, jet lag maybe?? I just find the ingredients don't react the same here, but b) I don't actually like it, so everytime it doesn't work I lose the will with it just a little bit more than before!! I think it tastes like it doesn't know what it is, I have no desire to make it and then when I do it doesn't work....

AZCouture Posted 20 Mar 2014 , 9:36pm
post #3 of 69

AI don't have anything other than THAT WAS HILARIOUS!

cakegrandma Posted 20 Mar 2014 , 9:36pm
post #4 of 69

Although I have a couple of cakes that are hit or miss they are not what I want to talk about.

Your tale of what you go through, it was fabulous reading even though you are presented with so many  little cake elves that are determined to make this a failure.  Think of it this way, if you never have victory over this cake and want a new vocation, writing.  You held everyone's attention.  It was like a mystery, and waiting to turn the page to see what was going to happen next.

Good luck with your other cakes and remember, you may have lost this battle but you have won the war!

Rosie93095 Posted 20 Mar 2014 , 9:45pm
post #5 of 69

THAT IS HILARIOUS!!! 

OneHotMess Posted 20 Mar 2014 , 10:04pm
post #6 of 69

Quote:

Originally Posted by natt12321 
 

THIS made me laugh so much!

For me it's red velvet, I blame it on the fact it is a) American and I find recipes don't cross the pond very well, jet lag maybe?? I just find the ingredients don't react the same here, but b) I don't actually like it, so everytime it doesn't work I lose the will with it just a little bit more than before!! I think it tastes like it doesn't know what it is, I have no desire to make it and then when I do it doesn't work....

 

Oooh, that's the ugly stepsister of the Downy Failure Cake. Tastes like food coloring no matter what else you put in there, up to and including little baby seals and their big sad brown eyes. Once upon a time I had an RVC recipe that was red due to the type of cocoa used in it, rather than the type of chemical pool vis-a-vis Red Lake 40 squeezed into it. I'm inspired to look for it, if you don't mind the wait. It's a deep dig through a cedar closet. I'll have to move Hoffa. :?  Though it is a lovely excuse to eat cream cheese frosting.

(Yes, yes, for every cake-er-ster in the South - I hear you wailing and rattling your rolling pins. Cream cheese is not, strictly speaking, Traditional. The Real Deal Icing, for RVC, has cooked-out flour and milk in it, and is a time-consuming git to make. Don't hang me up by my juleps, I'm from Michigan. I like my cream cheese.)

@TheRestOfYouLovies - no fanning the flames of my ego. Nobody like a burning cake. Unless it's the downy yellow cake. That...well...can I soak it in rum first? It'll burn in nifty colors! (I swear, I have no issues with that cake. None. It's not like it haunts my dreams or anything.)

AZCouture Posted 20 Mar 2014 , 10:15pm
post #7 of 69

ABwhahahaha....TELL me you have a hilarious blog out there or something we can subscribe to , to keep up with your shenanigans!

natt12321 Posted 20 Mar 2014 , 10:31pm
post #8 of 69

Quote:

Originally Posted by AZCouture 

Bwhahahaha....TELL me you have a hilarious blog out there or something we can subscribe to , to keep up with your shenanigans!


I agree with this so much! And if you do not have a blog, OneHotMess now is the time!! Your cake tales are hilarious!

If you do find the colouring free velvet recipe, I'd love to give that a try!

MBalaska Posted 20 Mar 2014 , 10:46pm
post #9 of 69

http://cakecentral.com/t/766143/basic-sponge-or-butter-cake

 

try my butter cake recipe just once.  I also had several failures with the RLB yellow butter cake.  This is my go to scratch yellow butter cake now.

cheers,

mb

morganchampagne Posted 20 Mar 2014 , 10:51pm
post #10 of 69

AUsed to be cheesecake but then MBalaska fixed that :). So that leaves macarons. They still taste good. They just don't look very pretty

-K8memphis Posted 20 Mar 2014 , 11:49pm
post #11 of 69

the red without the food color cake that i know of is called red devil's food--it's a subtle red from the chemical reaction--but it is a chocolate cake--not a mild choco like rv

 

http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/red-devils-food-cake/867adb8c-54a3-4f56-88f4-c6e464426412

 

onehotmess--you have a way with words and i enjoy your posts--the baby seals thing was hysterical!! i was surprised to learn that you had used them too--hahahaha

Danilou Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 12:48am
post #12 of 69

AThe Sylvia Weinstock yellow cake.

OneHotMess Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 1:35am
post #13 of 69

Ah, the multi-quote button. Delicious. I'd try an evil cackle but I'm pretty sure I'd sound like a parrot with throat polyps. And of course, a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has said I'm amusing. Makes my day to make someone smile. 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by AZCouture 

Bwhahahaha....TELL me you have a hilarious blog out there or something we can subscribe to , to keep up with your shenanigans!

 

I wish I had a hilarious blog, but unless I hand my keyboard over to a flock of elves, feed them sprinkles and hallucinogens, and task them with updating it, it would probably get very boring very quickly. It's definitely something I'd consider, if it turns out I have sticking power and audience "pop" around here. I'm first and foremost on CC to learn, but it doesn't hurt that I can get a chuckle or two out of everyone along the way.

 

As a random aside on the topic of learning, I found a nine-minute video on the art of making a buttercream rose. They were bright pink, and I mean Bright, Hi The 80's Called And They Want ALL Of Their Neon Back, Pink. A piping expert made meticulous roses, first on pre-formed buds, next on flower nails. He used exactly two paper towels in the entire demonstration, and of those two towels, he only wiped his piping tip on them two or three times. Not a molecule of sugar was out of place, and frankly, he probably intimidated those molecules into submission. Threats of carmelization. Showed them a jar of molasses. The nerve.

 

All I could think, sitting there watching it, is that before I made it through my five-petal row - if I even made it that far - I would have dyed at least three fingers, a decent chunk of my hair, and one cat entirely pink. Not to mention the nifty pink facial war paint that would have happened, along with the newly pink floor and walls. I am OneHotMess, Amazon Queen of the melty Pollock-style rose-fails! Katy Perry, move along. Nothing to see here, all I am missing is the glitter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MBalaska 
 

http://cakecentral.com/t/766143/basic-sponge-or-butter-cake

 

try my butter cake recipe just once.  I also had several failures with the RLB yellow butter cake.  This is my go to scratch yellow butter cake now.

cheers,

mb

MB, there can never be too much cake in the house, so this is going to happen now. Any thoughts on an appropriate icing? The Viva method is amazing to watch (How does that work? And with no lint or towel-print!), and anything that makes whole forests quiver in fear of being pulped for toweling has *got* to be on to something.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by -K8memphis 
 

the red without the food color cake that i know of is called red devil's food--it's a subtle red from the chemical reaction--but it is a chocolate cake--not a mild choco like rv

 

http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/red-devils-food-cake/867adb8c-54a3-4f56-88f4-c6e464426412

 

onehotmess--you have a way with words and i enjoy your posts--the baby seals thing was hysterical!! i was surprised to learn that you had used them too--hahahaha

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by natt12321 
 


I agree with this so much! And if you do not have a blog, OneHotMess now is the time!! Your cake tales are hilarious!

If you do find the colouring free velvet recipe, I'd love to give that a try!

 

Nesting quotes didn't happen. Hm. This is why a blog would be a fail. Someone bring me an elf; I need a tutorial!

In any event, my dear sweet baba - 92 years! - is now looking for her "Red Devil" recipe. As k8memphis pointed out, it's technically not an RVC. Which clearly didn't deter Baba from writing it down as Red Velvet. Don't ask, she's old and she will inform you that she can do whatever she wants because, "You argue with old woman? Huh? YOU WANNA ARGUE? I go to church for you."

Asking for a second copy of the recipe was a trip - the closet copy is not going to unearth itself - Baba managed a lecture on the finer points of Bunko (Nope. No clue what Bunko is), threatened an exorcism because, "Why you ask your Baba about the Devil? Why? YOU MAKE BABA CRY! I go to church for you," and then grudgingly decided her grandbaby could have a second copy. I'll PM it over to you, natt. It's not going to be as nauseatingly red as a RVC, but it also won't make you question whether you've sprung a colon bleed, either.

OneHotMess Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 1:36am
post #14 of 69

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danilou 

The Sylvia Weinstock yellow cake.


What is it with yellow cake? I smell a conspiracy! Anyone think that all these yellow cake fails need to be lined up for a side-by-side bake-off comparison?

MBalaska Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 1:49am
post #15 of 69

Quote:

Originally Posted by OneHotMess 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Danilou 

The Sylvia Weinstock yellow cake.


What is it with yellow cake? I smell a conspiracy! Anyone think that all these yellow cake fails need to be lined up for a side-by-side bake-off comparison?

 

here's a copy of the version that I have.  I haven't ever made it, but you're welcome to it.

another version uses sour cream instead of milk, actually a search in recipes would find it.

 

Yellow Cake Recipe by Sylvia Weinstock

 

2 1/4 cups (281 g) cake flour

2 tsp. (10 g) baking powder

1/2 tsp. (3 g) salt

1 cup (2 sticks) (227 g) butter

2 cups (400 g) sugar

4 egg yolks

2 tsp. (8 g) vanilla

1 cup (240 ml) milk

4 egg whites

 

METHOD Preheat the oven to 350°F; and line 2 x 9" round or one 12" cake pans with parchment or wax circles. Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl with a mixer, cream butter and sugar together for about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing it in after addition of each. Add in the vanilla. Stir the flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides and beat for another minute. Beat the egg whites in another bowl until soft to medium peaks. Make sure bowl and whisk are clean and grease free. Fold half the egg whites to the batter to temper it. Then fold in the rest of the egg whites. batter in prepared cake pans and bake for approx. 45 minutes for the 9" cake pan or 60 minutes for the 12" pan. The cake is ready when an inserted wooden skewer or cake tester comes out clean or when cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger. Let the cake cool in pans for about 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a knife or metal spatula and invert to a metal rack. Invert again to another rack to prevent the cake from splitting. - See more at: http://www.make-fabulous-cakes.com/yellow-cake-recipe.html#sthash.0oG6eFL5.dpuf

natt12321 Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 2:08am
post #16 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by OneHotMess 
 

 

I wish I had a hilarious blog, but unless I hand my keyboard over to a flock of elves, feed them sprinkles and hallucinogens, and task them with updating it, it would probably get very boring very quickly. It's definitely something I'd consider, if it turns out I have sticking power and audience "pop" around here. I'm first and foremost on CC to learn, but it doesn't hurt that I can get a chuckle or two out of everyone along the way.

 

 

Not a molecule of sugar was out of place, and frankly, he probably intimidated those molecules into submission. Threats of carmelization. Showed them a jar of molasses. The nerve.

 

All I could think, sitting there watching it, is that before I made it through my five-petal row - if I even made it that far - I would have dyed at least three fingers, a decent chunk of my hair, and one cat entirely pink. Not to mention the nifty pink facial war paint that would have happened, along with the newly pink floor and walls. I am OneHotMess, Amazon Queen of the melty Pollock-style rose-fails! Katy Perry, move along. Nothing to see here, all I am missing is the glitter.

 

Nesting quotes didn't happen. Hm. This is why a blog would be a fail. Someone bring me an elf; I need a tutorial!

In any event, my dear sweet baba - 92 years! - is now looking for her "Red Devil" recipe. As k8memphis pointed out, it's technically not an RVC. Which clearly didn't deter Baba from writing it down as Red Velvet. Don't ask, she's old and she will inform you that she can do whatever she wants because, "You argue with old woman? Huh? YOU WANNA ARGUE? I go to church for you."
 

 

 

All of these parts (and more, but I thought the bits I quoted were already overkill, I just couldn't choose my favourites) are the reasons you NEED a blog!

The neon pink cat kept me laughing through the whole post so the introduction of Baba at the end had me crying.

AnnieCahill Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 2:21am
post #17 of 69

AThe bake off was done a while ago:

cakecentral.com/t/633981/the-great-scratch-off-yellow-cakes

Of course, that doesn't mean we can't do another!

OneHotMess Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 2:28am
post #18 of 69

Quote:

Originally Posted by AnnieCahill 

The bake off was done a while ago:

cakecentral.com/t/633981/the-great-scratch-off-yellow-cakes

Of course, that doesn't mean we can't do another!


Argh! The pitfalls of being a half-baked cake; I haven't made it deep enough into some of the threads and past events to know any better. My husband is advocating "Yellow Cakes: When Yolks Attack" because he knows he's going to be drowning in goodies. Even if some do make him yack up a lawn-dart. Rose, I'm coming for you.

 

Off to read about the results of The Great Scratch Off! Sounds...itchy. Cake crumbs in no-no spots.

JWinslow Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 5:23am
post #19 of 69

Well, OneHotMess, if you do a blog, I will be reading it.  Your posts have me rolling on the floor.  The "pink" paragraph had me flash back to my first encounter with food gels - not only did I get it everywhere but my butter cream was transformed into gak.  No longer edible, it became practice icing for butter cream roses - which I still can't do.  I'm so glad you joined CC :)

cheeseball Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 8:38am
post #20 of 69

I had a White Whale.  Cream cheese pound cake.  Yup.  A simple cream cheese pound cake.  For years, I would look in the mirror, do my Stuart Smalley affirmations and march into the kitchen, positive that this time would be different...and every frick fracking time I would end up with a shriveled, dried apple doll looking abomination on the outside, huge sad streak on the inside.  My darling family would chorus, "But we like it this way!"  I would cut my eyes at them and at the offensive thing and growl that I was never making it again.  Every time I would see the recipe online, it had scads of "The best cake ever!" and "Perfect every time!" reviews, from apparent prodigies who only baked once or twice a year.  Meh.

 

I finally broke down and asked Sarah Phillips at *********.com what the hotel was happening and she patiently explained that those old fashioned recipes were created long before the invention of the heavy duty stand mixer.  Beating the bejaysus out of the cream cheese and butter was breaking it down rather than fluffing it up.  By the time 6 eggs were beaten in, I had a soupy, curdled mess. Duh.  But she didn't imply that I had obviously been dropped on my head as a child and for that, I was very grateful.   I applied a couple more tweaks and discovered that yes, I can bang out a perfect-every-time cream cheese pound cake.   So now, I have a dream...that one day my favorite chocolate cake will quit sinking in the middle and giving me apoplectic fits...

OneHotMess Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 3:49pm
post #21 of 69

@cheeseball, I freely admit to using a chocolate cake recipe from none other than the Lady of the Lobster, Ina "It's Faah-byuu-luss!" Garten. 99% of the time I think Food Network is like a bad joke played out on cable TV, waiting to suck in someone unsuspecting - "Well, Sandra Lee displayed it on a tablescape, and it matched her outfit, and it's only supposed to be SEMI homemade, so who cares if I have to use tweezers to place corn nuts on a Kwanzaa cake? It's not like I made the cake, I just thawed it from the frozen-desserts section! And opened a can of frosting! And a can of filling! And a bottle of something high-proof to take away the shame!"

 

However, Ina's chocolate cake is divine. The batter will scare the niblets right out of you once you put the coffee in it, because you will automatically think, "Oh ish I just wasted nine trillion dollars worth of chocolate and GOOD vanilla - Ina says it has to be GOOD vanilla, and she glares at me when she says it and works up a lathery fit with that Boston accent - because this isn't batter, it's chocolate pudding snot. Somewhere, a Callebaut factory worker is crying."

 

It's delicious snot, though. Two pans full of moist, fluffy, dark chocolate bliss. You expect birdies and angels and chocolate sprinkles to poof up from each piece each time you slice into it like something out of a movie starring a Happy Floridian Mouse Waving Copyright Laws.

Rfisher Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 8:15pm
post #22 of 69

ACan I throw in a thought? Reading about RLB's yellow cake and it's [I]tendencies[/I], made me remember reading another thread that is just as interesting as CC's scratch off mentioned above. Egullet has a yellow cake thread from 2004 that someone offered their version of the downy with half oil and half butter they claimed was good. I have not tried it myself, though. Yet.

Danilou Posted 21 Mar 2014 , 10:16pm
post #23 of 69

ASounds interesting

OneHotMess Posted 22 Mar 2014 , 3:13am
post #24 of 69

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rfisher 

Can I throw in a thought? Reading about RLB's yellow cake and it's tendencies, made me remember reading another thread that is just as interesting as CC's scratch off mentioned above. Egullet has a yellow cake thread from 2004 that someone offered their version of the downy with half oil and half butter they claimed was good. I have not tried it myself, though. Yet.

 

It seems like a lot of RLB's recipes have "tendencies" - I looked at the corrections and addenda pages...and pages...and pages...and at the point someone was explaining why four teaspoons of condensed milk wasn't a big enough deal to really affect a recipe, I kinda cringed. By kinda, I mean had an out-of-body, "What if that was baking powder? I go to church for you!" moment.

 

Plus...there's just a terrifying number of pages of addenda. I know reprints and new editions mean mistakes are made, but sheesh. That's not a cookbook, that's a food-based edition of Mad Libs.

Mimimakescakes Posted 22 Mar 2014 , 3:14am
post #25 of 69

Ahhh my white whale , is anything backed from a packet or box. I know millions of bakers and cakers do it without issue everyday , even several times a day in some cases , but not me , I am just incapable . I have tried the cheap ones to the expensive ones . I fail miserably every time. I still can't help myself though, I enter that aisle with all the pretty  boxes with pictures of perfect looking cake seemingly smiling back at me all fluffy, moist ( my apologies for those that have a sensitivity to that particular term ) and evenly risen.  The back of the box is even more inviting with just a few simple steps to cake perfection. 

 

I have to buy one , maybe this one will be different , Nope everytime major fail. 

I guess I am doomed to be a scratch baker , not because it makes me superior but out of sheer nescessity . Too many cakes thrown out with the box , it gets to be quite expensive. 

morganchampagne Posted 22 Mar 2014 , 3:41am
post #26 of 69

AI'm really shocked by how many people actually don't like the cake bible! Lol I thought it was the best thing ever! Silly me, I've been living in a box lol..

Another white wale of mine is that damn WASC. I'm no good at it

-K8memphis Posted 22 Mar 2014 , 2:51pm
post #27 of 69

Quote:

Originally Posted by Danilou 

The Sylvia Weinstock yellow cake.

 

there's 2 swyc recipes--the original has sour cream the newer version uses milk--

 

i know lots of peeps have trouble with the original--i typod the formula when i recorded it one day and i've never had any problems with it  :-D

 

i use 2.5 cups of cake flour -- it calls for 2.25 cups  and this tweaked formula of mine was used in the yellow cake bake off and mine came out the yellowest but it is not yellow when i make it--i eliminate several egg yolks and i cream butter & sugar very well then add the eggs to that--beat it till it's a real pretty smoothy smooth -- add the other stuff as you should by degrees begin & end w/flour--this cake is phenominal--stays fresh for days at room temp--but does not do well if chilled at all--

 

it's really funny--doubleday cookbook has a "white wedding cake" formula that is the best yellow cake i have ever had--the sylvia's yellow cake is my best white cake

 

my crazy mixed up cake world my yellow is white and my white is yellow hahahaha--

 

and a note to the one i think it's morgan who can't get wasc--i use self rising flour and i love mine--if not self rising just add some baking powder--

-K8memphis Posted 22 Mar 2014 , 2:52pm
post #28 of 69

onehotmess--you are polish too?

OneHotMess Posted 22 Mar 2014 , 4:23pm
post #29 of 69

Quote:

Originally Posted by -K8memphis 
 

onehotmess--you are polish too?

 

As Polish as they come :) A big pierogi-o-love, if you will.

-K8memphis Posted 22 Mar 2014 , 4:43pm
post #30 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by OneHotMess 
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by -K8memphis 
 

onehotmess--you are polish too?

 

As Polish as they come :) A big pierogi-o-love, if you will.

 

boiled, drenched with butter, fried to perfection, little sour cream on the side--i've even learned to love the sour kraut ones

 

my little mom would start making & freezing them as soon as we left from one visit so she'd have enough ready to go when we arrived the next time--

 

i believe world peace will involve pierogis in some way--probably some kind of currency--

 

pierogis for the win!

 

 

*:-)/\:-) high five

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