Monday, April 25, 2016

Classic Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting (Y is for Yellow)

I don't think there's a much more classic dessert than yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  Delicate cake topped with creamy icing...mmmm.  Turn it into cupcakes and I might have enough self-control not to eat the whole recipe at once.

What makes a yellow cake so yellow? Two things: butter and eggs.   This cake uses dairy-free margarine, so that it's dairy free and Matthew-friendly, and organic, Omega-3 eggs. Do the eggs need to be organic? No, not necessarily. However, I've found that they have a more intense yellow-orange yolk, which helps color the cake.  Omega-3 eggs have more going for them, nutritionally, but for our purposes, it's pure aesthetics.  (And yes, if you can have butter, go ahead and substitute it for the margarine.)

The frosting has plain shortening as the base.  You could use butter for a true "buttercream" frosting, but 1) that's not dairy-free and 2) shortening has a neutral flavor.  With a neutral fat, the chocolate is extra intense, making this frosting fudgier.

PS - you can double the recipe and make a two layer cake.  Sometimes doubling a baking recipe works, sometimes it doesn't.  Here, it does.  Make sure you double the frosting, too, if you like it thickly spread.

Classic Vanilla Cake 

6 Tbsp margarine
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 c. gluten free flour mix (I used King Arthur)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I like So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake papers.  (For a single layer cake, grease and flour an 8 or 9" cake pan.)

Ideally, you'll have remembered to take the margarine out to soften before you start baking.  In my life, it's fridge-to-mixing bowl or I wander off and forget I'm baking to start with.  I cut my margarine into small cubes, stick it in the mixer, and let it go.  It takes a total of about 20 extra seconds to cut and soften enough to start incorporating with the sugar.  I can live with that.

Cream together your margarine and sugar until fluffy and light yellow.

Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated.  Add vanilla, stir to combine, and set aside.

Measure into a second bowl: flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt.  Gently whisk to combine.

Turn your mixer back on to a low speed.  Add about half of the flour mix, and allow to combine.  Slowly add the milk, and mix until incorporated.  Add the rest of the flour mix and allow to mix until it comes together. Turn off your mixer.

Using a spatula, gently fold the batter on itself once or twice.  This gets any lumps from the bottom incorporated, as well as any loose flour that was on the beater.

Portion the batter into the cupcake pan.  I like using a small ice cream scoop.  (My disher is a #40 and holds about a tablespoon and a half of batter.)  If there's any leftover after portioning, divide it among the ones that look a little skimpy.

Place in oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a skewer/toothpick comes out clean PLUS one minute.  (The extra minute helps the cake be more like cake and less gummy in the center.)

Turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.  You could eat them like this, but then you'd be eating muffins, not cupcakes.  Cupcakes need frosting.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

1 c. vegetable shortening
1/2 cup cocoa powder
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
about 1/3 cup non-dairy milk
     (make sure to use something unsweetened; I use So Delicious coconut milk)

Sift the cocoa powder. No, it's not a critical step, but I find my cocoa powder tends to clump, so it makes a smoother frosting.

Beat shortening and cocoa powder together until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and mix until smooth.  Add milk - a tablespoon or so at a time, allowing it to totally mix in before adding more - until the frosting is spreadable.   (If you add too much milk, add extra powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, until it's the correct consistency.)

Frost the cupcakes.  This actually makes more frosting than you NEED for this amount of cake, but this is also delicious as a fruit dip.  Or just bake more cupcakes. Or get a spoon. Whatever.  I won't judge.

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