Wednesday, November 23, 2005

White Out


The universal question: Chocolate or Vanilla? I am, and have always been, a chocolate girl. When I read a dessert menu, more often than not, my eyes will immediately zero in on the chocolate items. I love chocolate (now there's an oft repeated statement) and will go to great lengths to get the chocolate I want. Chocolate for me draws pictures of things both sweet and sinful, dark never-ending passions, decadence, bliss.

That being said, there are certain times when some rogue vanilla-craving sneaks up behind me, when things get a little to "noisy" and I seek solace in the simplicity of of the unadorned. Times when I yearn for something pure and white, like a crisp cotton shirt. When I long for sophistication instead of flamboyance, in a place where I lounge, cool as a cucumber, on Scandinavian furniture while sipping artesian water from Fiji. Yes, my escape to vanilla-land.

I was having one of those days, and I despeartely needed something, well, white, to soothe my soul and calm my nerves. Something I could conjure simply to see something white...like a clean slate on which I could regroup and refocus. Is that strange? White first, taste later. An affront to the true purpose of food? I was in a strange mood I suppose...

Anyhoo, I rooted around the cookbooks and this is what I came up with. For the cake, I decided to make a pretty basic yellow cake from our battered, handed-down, copy of Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook. I had to adjust the recipe a bit as I didn't have any shortening, so I used butter, which made for amazing flavor. For the icing, I used the icing for Nigella's Burnt-Butter Brown Sugar Cupcakes, except I didn't "burn" the butter, in order to keep the icing pure white. I also had to adjust the measurements because I didn't have enough sugar on hand (so I apologize for the seemingly random and uneven quantities!). No tragedy...I still had icing leftover.

Here's the recipe:

Rich Golden Cake
(adapted somewhat from Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook)

- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs

Here's what you do:
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- Add the butter, milk and vanilla, and beat for 2 minutes.
- Add the eggs, and beat for another 2 minutes.
- Pour into a greased and floured cake tin (I used a 9 inch one for this recipe. Although that wasn't what it originally called for, it worked just fine. I also lined the bottom of the pan with parchment paper) and bake for 30 - 35 minutes (or until done, when the handy toothpick thrust into the center of the cake comes out clean).

Icing for Burnt-Butter Brown Sugar Cupcakes
(adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess)

- 84 grams butter, softened
- 140 grams icing/confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 - 2 tablespoons milk

Here's what you do:
- Beat butter with around half the sugar, just to make it stiff.
- Add milk and remaining sugar alternately until you reach a nice consistency.
- Add vanilla.

After the cake has cooled of completely, spread icing all over the cake to cover. It would have been nice if I had a straight edge spatula to clean up my white-out cake's look...unfortunately we had to make do with the rustic, smear-y look.

I had started out just wanting to calm some jumpy nerves with the joy of beholding a nice, plain, white cake, but the boon was that it actually came out delicious! This is no light and fluffy cake though. It is dense and rich and moist. And although it looks quite benign, sitting there in all it's white innocence, it is actually quite intense. The vanilla in the cake and icing, paired with the butter-y-ness of the cake, comforted even a solid chocolate lover like me. Sigh...

18 comments:

nina said...

Oh you got me craving now! Might try this recipe this weekend :D

Kai said...

I try to separate the loves of my life - chocolate anywhere else, but vanilla in cakes. And butter, too. Especially in a dense, moist cake like this. I'm close to begging you for some, haha.

Rachel said...

that looks so good!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Nina! Glad you likes it :) If you do get to try it out let me know how it goes...

Hi Kai! So I see you can have your chocolate and eat your cake too! <-- Ok that was a lame attmept at cliche, hehe! :)

Hi Rachel! Thanks for dropping by! Just visited you blog...so much recipes, will explore more in a bit :)

Mila Tan said...

wonder if the flavor would be too much if you used white chocolate in the icing. Then you'd have both worlds, or close to the best of both in one cake.

Paz said...

Oh! Delicious! I'm more of a vanilla person than chocolate. I'd pick vanilla any day. I'm going to check and see if I have the ingredients for this cake... Now!

Paz

dexiejane said...

talk about a pick me up. like you i'm a chocolate lover but once in a while my body craves for something vanilla. i think i have all the ingredients :)

nena said...

I personally tried Joey's white cake (this IS the one from last Friday right, jo?), and it was really yummy! Just the right amount of sweetness, richness, and moistness! I'm drooling now just thinking about it ~~~~~.

Like Kai, I love chocolate everywhere else, but usually for cakes I prefer other flavors. So this really made my tummy smile, :D.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Mila! Hey hey hey...now there's an idea :) There's only one way to find out...

Hi Paz! A vanilla person...I will keep that in mind :) Don't you just love the smell of vanilla though? :) Let me know if you do try it out...

Dexie, hi! I know exactly how you feel :)

Hi Nena!!! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your sweet comments on my blog! You're such a great friend :) I will tell you when I've got something new ;) See you soon!

stef said...

joey, this looks so yummy!!!

wonder why you're in a WHITE mood... heehee....

stef:)...(humming lohengrin)

mike mina said...

ei joey! welcome back! this one looks yummy! this also makes baking look like something easy to do! don't know why i don't have the guts to try and take up baking the fact that i love cakes and desserts. would that big white day be a food blogger's EB? tee hee . . .

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Stef! Hehe...I wonder? :)

Hi Mike! Thanks! My baking is not as stellar as I would want it to be...you should see some of the weird things that come out of my oven sometimes (hmmm, might make for an interesting post...) :)

Lori said...

Feeling all "virginal," eh, Joey? Hahahahahah. Joke. The cake looks great. I also love how baking something I'm particularly in the mood for can be so cathartic.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Lori :) Hahaha! I know what you mean though (about it being cathartic)...

Mona said...

Joey, I'm just seeing this-that cake looks fabulous! Uh, I'm so jealous. Even though I'm totally out-eaten from the past few days of Thanksgiving I've had, I would like to try this someday:)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Mona! Thanks! I can imagine the fabulous Thanksgiving repast you had...and with Christmas coming up, looks like things will not be slowing down in the gastronomic department just yet! :)

Rebekka said...

yes, yum yum yum yum

ChichaJo said...

Hi Rebekka! Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment...yes, it was quite yummy :)