A really simple, Basic butter cake (one bowl/blending method)

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It all starts with a desire to make a decent mango mousse cake.

I bought three big fat mangoes recently, each the size of three times my palm. Boyfriend’s birthday is approaching too. Mousse cake sounds like a very presentable birthday cake and feels (at least) light. The cake layer for mousse cake is usually a soft cake, and I thought of sponge or ogura cake, which is also known as cotton cake. However I can’t get hold of cream of tartar, which is an essential ingredient in ogura cake, and I thought sponge is a little too dry. So I decided to practice making the most basic of all, butter cake.

I am a clumsy baker. I made some good stuffs, but had my fair share of failures. I definitely am not a cake person, because it requires the electric mixer, and I find the mixer too troublesome to take out and use… So I usually bake cookies, and I bake it.. quite decent, with some good raves and satisfying results. It is important to use heart and soul in baking (cooking, and actually in whatever u do. People can tell. It shows.)

So a cake noob decided to bake her first butter cake. (Or is it not the first?)

I followed a recipe from a nice looking Chinese recipe book. Turned out pathetic. It was dry, cake did not rise (almost expected), top was over dried, inner was undercooked. I had to know why. I wanted to throw it away, but being mum, she disallowed. Not that she is eating any of it though (zzz..). I ate some over breakfast at my bf house, and the guy reached out for second servings, claiming that the taste is ok, though tough inside. I told him not to eat my failed product already, as I wasn’t sure if it was cooked. Bad for health. Lol.. But was touched by his gesture though.

After some search online for butter cake recipes, I realize the recipe I used was intrinsically wrong. The batter was meant to turn out too dry, as it did not have any liquid as an ingredient. Most butter cake recipes calls for use of milk, buttermilk, or some form of liquid. It uses the creaming method, which i was not sure how it works for cakes. I usually do quite well for cookies. Seems like cakes require more mixing and much fluffier mixture from creaming. A lot of knowledge and practice required indeed. More on the failed recipe next time.

For now, a decent butter cake. With more improvements to be made. 🙂

Recipe is adapted from The English Kitchen – A Simple Butter Cake.

Ingredients
125g butter, softened at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
190g sugar (reduced to 130g)
3 large eggs (best at room temperature)
210g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
Pinch of salt
125ml milk

1. Preheat oven to 150 degree Celsius. Butter 8-inch round pan and line with baking paper.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt together. Mix with sugar.
3. Mix on low speed with butter and some milk till incorporated. (Purpose is to coat flour with fat)
4. Add in eggs, remaining milk, vanilla. Beat on low speed to mix all ingredients, then high speed till just smooth.
5. Bake 1h 5min, or till skewer-clean.
6. Cool 5 min in pan before turning out on wire rack.

Notes:
– Used 9 inch pan as I do not have 8-inch. As expected, the cake did not rise as well. It is a little tough, although taste is ok.
– After some research (after the whole baking saga… What was I thinking??), I realized 1 8-inch round pan can be substituted by a 8 x 4 inch loaf pan (which I have). Shall try it next time.
– If I used a larger pan, according to Joy of Baking – pan sizes, I would have to reduce baking time and up the temperature slightly. Very informative website recommended for all bakers, especially newbies. Videos are also included for most recipes, so u can know exactly what it means by “stiff peaks”, “soft and fluffy”. Seriously, these descriptive terms are good, but not specific enough to save new bakers disappointment, time, effort and money. Seeing pictures and videos is to best way to learn. Baking is an art, and much of science.
– Top of cake is slightly hard. Should have reduced the cooking time since the cake is in a more spread out pan. The top is slightly overcooked, though overall, still nice.
– Original recipe only requires all ingredients to be mixed on low speed till incorporated, then increase to high till just smooth. Did some research and realized the blending method is as described above. Should I just follow the recipe instead of changing the mixing method? One-bowl method is about coating flour with fat, so that further mixing will not develop as much gluten, and the result will be a moist cake.
– Wasn’t sure how “just smooth” is supposed to be. I spent some time scraping down ingredients on low speed, and the batter turns “just smooth” a little while after I changed to high speed. I read that most people beat it at medium speed for 3minutes. So not sure if I did not mix enough. Some gluten needs to be developed as it would give the cake structure.
– Cake was cooked. It could have been more moist, and soft if it were allowed to rise more. It did not rise as much as expected, probably due to larger pan and improper/under mixing. But still, the cake was good enough to satisfy me.
– Taste wise, it was decent. Slightly not sweet enough for it to be called dessert. But then again, my household is not into sweet stuffs.
– I am glad I made a butter cake decent enough to bring to work.. Usually I only dared bring chocolate cakes as many faults can be covered by the rich taste and dark colors.
– Cake is decent enough to serve my family and friends too.

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