SOMETHING TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A RECIPE FOR BUILDING CAKES
When making cakes with white sheet cakes, I have always found that this type cake is a bit more dense, and therefore more durable, if you will, cake to work with. A lot of this has to do with the ingredients that are used from this recipe. I have worked with other yellow cake and white sheet cake recipes that call for oil. This has made the cake much more moist, but also much more delicate. This recipe for white sheet cake, on the other hand, has been moist and still durable. Keep this in mind when
deciding what type of cake you are going to make.
If you are building a cake that requires an underlying structure to support it, you need to keep in mind the type of cake that can handle this cake project. Sometimes a moister cake will not do the job.
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
WHITE SHEET CAKE RECIPE (One 9 X 13 Sheet Cake)
4 1/2 CUPS CAKE FLOUR (YOU CAN SUBSTITUTE WITH 1 CUP ALL PURPOSE FLOUR AND 2 TBsp CORN STARCH FOR EACH CUP)
2 1/4 CUPS SUGAR (DO NOT USE ARTIFICIAL SUGARS LIKE SPLENDA. AGAVE NECTAR IS A GOOD NATURAL ALTERNATIVE)
2 TBsp BAKING POWDER
1 tsp SALT (I USE GRANULATED SEA SALT AS A PERSONAL PREFERENCE)
1 1/4 CUPS UNSALTED BUTTER, ROOM TEMPERATURE
7 EGG WHITES (THIS IS FOR MAKING MERINGUE)
1 1/2 CUPS MILK
1 1/2 TBsp 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. 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 flour 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 flour. 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 a separate 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. Set the bowl aside.
6. If you are using an electric mixer, attach the paddle (or beater) attachment to your mixer and place it into the mixing bowl. Place the butter in the bowl and mix until creamy and pale in color. Usually mix on medium speed. When creamy, add the sugar in a steady stream. You want to continue mixing on medium speed until the sugar breaks down the butter and makes it fluffy. This usually take about 3 minutes.
The crystaline structure of sugar, with its sharp edges, is important to creating a fluffy butter for the batter. That is why sugar for cakes is always mixed with butter.
7. Now turn your mixer on low speed and add the dry ingredients followed by wet ingredients (milk and vanilla). You want to do this in three stages, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. When the batter has mixed for about 1 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. Do not overmix the batter. It will be thick until you incorporate the meringue (which is the next step). Set aside the batter, pour it into another bowl if you don’t have another electric mixer bowl.
8. Clean your mixing bowl completely for this step. Add the egg whites and attach the whisk to your mixer. Turn the mixer on high and beat the whites until they form stiff peaks. You can determine the peaks by dipping a spoon into the meringue and pulling it out. If the meringue forms peaks that stay in place, then you are done. This should not take more than 3 minutes to make. Now you want to fold the meringue into the batter. Usually do this in 3 batches. Be sure to fold the egg whites in with a spatula. Never mix meringue into a batter or you risk ruining the batter.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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 or tap the pan 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.