A Note About Where I Make Cakes:
I live at high altitude so when I say I have gone through a lot of cake recipes to find one that works, I am not kidding (probably close to 35 recipes before I found one that I could work with). Thank goodness frosting recipes are not as finicky at different altitudes (at least the ones I have researched). These have worked time and again for me and I am happy to share them with you. Feel free to modify them and post some comments about what you think of these recipes or what you would do differently with your own cake recipe.
Got Your Own Cake Or Frosting Recipe Ideas?
I am always on the lookout for another recipe to add to this list. If you have one that you would like to contribute, I will review and try it out. If it is a good recipe, I will post it here along with mine and we can share it all with everyone.
BEFORE YOU BEGIN. DO YOU HAVE THESE ITEMS?
1 ROLL PARCHMENT PAPER
1 9 X 13 SHEET CAKE PAN (TWO IS BETTER, FOR MOST CAKE DESIGNS, YOU WILL NEED AT LEAST 2 SHEET CAKES)
1 SIFTER (I USE A VEGETABLE STRAINER, WORKS JUST AS WELL, IF NOT BETTER)
2 COOLING RACKS (AT LEAST 9 X 15)
1 ROLL WAX PAPER
1 ROLL ALUMINUM FOIL
CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE (One 9 X 13 Sheet Cake)
1 1/2 CUPS COCOA POWDER
3 CUPS FLOUR (ALL PURPOSE IS FINE. TRY TO GET NON-GMO)
3 CUPS SUGAR (DO NOT USE ARTIFICIAL SUGARS LIKE SPLENDA. AGAVE NECTAR IS A GOOD NATURAL ALTERNATIVE)
1 TBsp BAKING POWDER
1 tsp SALT (I USE GRANULATED SEA SALT AS A PERSONAL PREFERENCE)
3 EGGS (LARGE)
1 1/2 CUPS BUTTERMILK (LOW FAT IS FINE)
1 1/2 CUPS WARM WATER (WARM IS IMPORTANT WITH REGARDS TO INCORPORATING INGREDIENTS)
3/4 CUP VEGETABLE OIL (TRY TO GET NON-GMO)
1 1/2 tsp VANILLA EXTRACT (NOT IMITATION) – REAL VANILLA EXTRACT IS GLUTEN FREE TOO!
MY PERSONAL NOTE: I TRY TO USE ONLY ORGANIC OR NON-GMO PRODUCTS WHEN POSSIBLE. THIS IS MY OWN PERSONAL PREFERENCE AND CHOOSING OTHER ALTERNATIVES WILL NOT ALTER THE QUALITY OF THE CAKE.
1. Before you preheat the oven, place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom rack of your oven. I have found that some cake batters, like this one, tend to bubble over sometimes while rising. The last thing you want to do is remove spilt batter from a hot oven. Also, make sure you read your oven manual to know which rack is best for cakes. Typically, the middle of the oven is a good rule of thumb.
2. Preheat oven – 350 degrees (I recommend testing your oven with a good oven thermometer. This is an important step to bake a cake at a uniform known temperature).
A lot of recipes or bakers will say that preheating an oven is not necessary anymore because ovens heat up so quickly. I don’t know who these people are, but they obviously haven’t baked many cakes before. Letting your oven equalize at the baking temperature is very important for successful cake baking.
3. Prepare your sheet pans by cutting a piece of parchment paper to match the bottom of the cake pan (run your finger along the bottom edges of the pan to make a crease in the parchment paper). Now butter the pan on the sides and bottom. Press your cut parchment paper to the bottom of your sheet cake pan and butter the top of the parchment paper as well (push down on the parchment paper while buttering it).
4. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder in the pan. Use the cocoa powder to coat the inside of your sheet cake pan. The easiest way is to do this over your sink and tap the pan with one hand, while turning the pan with the other hand until the inside is covered with cocoa powder. Finally, tap the pan upside down against your sink and let the excess fall out.
5. If you have an electric mixer (which I highly recommend), set it up and place the bowl in the mixer. Gather your dry ingredients and sift them together over the mixer bowl (use a strainer, it holds more and you can rest it on top of your bowl while you pour the dry ingredients into it). Tap or gently shake your strainer until the dry ingredients are sifted.
6. If you are using an electric mixer, attach the paddle (or beater) attachment to your mixer and place it into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed and let it mix the dry ingredients fully. This should only take about 30 seconds. Note:
Do Not Use The Whisk Attachment. It Will Incorporate Too Much Air Into The Batter. Save This For Making The Meringue For ButterCream Frosting.
7. Now turn your mixer on low speed and add the wet ingredients. Start with the eggs, adding one after another (usually you would wait until each egg has fully incorporated, but becasue we are mixing straight into a big bowl of dry ingredients, the batter would get pretty tough quickly). Now add the warm water, buttermilk and oil. Pour slowly and continuously with each ingredient. When the batter has mixed for about 1 minute, add the vanilla and continue mixing for about 1 more minute. Turn off your mixer and spatula the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix the batter for another minute or until the batter is smooth (you will know it is smooth when it looks creamy). Your batter is not going to be thick, like it can be for a white sheet cake recipe.
8. Pour the batter into your parchment lined sheet cake pan. This next step is up to you whether or not you want to do it. I like to tap my pans against the table and try and remove a few of the air bubbles from the batter. Other times, I have not done it, and I honestly cannot say whether or not this made a difference.
9. Place the sheet cake pan in the oven and set the timer for about 45 minutes. Some ovens can cook faster than others, so be aware of your cooking time.
When determining cooking times, be aware of the pan you choose. If it is an insulated pan, your cooking time could take longer vs. a traditional aluminum sheet cake pan.
10. Do not open the oven until your timer has gone off or the cake has risen and set. At this point test the cake with a toothpick in the center to see if it comes out clean. You can also push gently in the center of the cake and it should spring back. If the toothpick comes out a little wet, do not set the timer for more than 5 minutes. You will be amazed at how quickly the cake goes from wet to done. Remember too that your cake will still cook for a minute after you remove it from the oven.
11. Place the pan onto a cooling rack and let rest for at least 15 minutes. Do not take the cake out of the pan sooner than this or you risk it falling apart. Give it time to cool and bind the cake together.
12. Use a paring knife or thin bladed knife and run it along the cake edges, this will help it to release cleanly from the cake pan. Now you want to place a sheet of wax paper on top of your wire rack and place this on top of the sheet cake pan. With the wire rack on top of the cake pan, hold it and the cake pan and flip the cake pan over. Place the cake pan and wire rack on the table and tap the cake pan around the edges. Now gently lift the cake pan (wiggle it a bit to help release the cake if necessary). Your cake should now be resting on the wax paper on top of the wire rack. Let it cool completely before you begin to decorate your cake.