Tonight I am going to start with a word to the wise: when feeling slightly inadequate, a little bit hard to please, and in the mood for something that resembles comfort food, don't turn to the Harrods Book of Cakes & Desserts (circa 1986). This book will not make you feel better about your cooking abilities. Everything inside is insanely complicated and most of the recipes use words i don't know.
Instead, try turning to one of your favorite cookbooks, something trusty, easy. That's why tonight I went with "the Complete Baking Cookbook." Just yellow cake with chocolate frosting - it sounded good. I didn't have time to make the icing, so i'll post that tomorrow. Anyway, it says in the book that for best results you should freeze the cake for one to two days before icing, so really I'm just being a good decorator.
So here's how it goes:
Preheat the oven to 350 and spray 2 9" round cake pans with nonstick spray.
3 1/2 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cold water
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
Now, I know it seems like 1 1/2 cups of butter is a lot. But, that's why it tastes so damn good. Butter makes EVERYTHING better. I think i could write entire sonnets, odes, lyrical poems even, to butter. And, it's a verifiable fact that I've always loved butter. When i was a kid i actually liked to eat butter straight off the stick, now i just like butter in everything I eat. Okay, now that I've finished professing my love of all things butter - I'll get to the instructions.
Start by whisking together flour, baking powder and salt in one bowl. In a second small bowl, stir together water and vanilla. Set aside.
In mixing bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, eating well between each addition. Here's my suggestion about this. Break the eggs (one at a time) into a separate bowl before adding into the butter/sugar mixture. That way if you're like me and you get a little egg-shell in the way you can just pick it out, instead of throwing out all that delicious butter and sugar.
Next using a wooden spoon (i don't have one at my apartment so i used a plastic spatula) stir in the flour mixture, alternating with the water mixture, making three additions of flour and two of water, until just blended.
Divide the batter equally between prepared pans. Bake until light brown and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 28 to 36 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes before transferring to rack to cool completely.
(Yes, i realize my oven is a little gross on the bottom - please feel free to come over and clean it for me)
This last instruction may have been my problem. Justin took the cakes out for me and decided very sweetly to go ahead and turn them out onto the wire rack for me. Unfortunately he did this almost immediately, and proceeded to brake one of my cakes right in half. I'll recognize the gesture though and i'll glue it back together with icing tomorrow. Anyway, as i said earlier, the cookbook says that for best decorating results you should wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and freeze for 1 to 2 days. Icing recipe and completed product coming tomorrow!