Claire Bakes Birthday Cake | From the Test Kitchen | Bon Appétit
would you like about
cakeis my favorite food should I have a lot of things that are my favourite food but
cakeis really out there okay I love this recipe for easy sheet
cakeit's a really straightforward yellow
cakewith a very streamlined method and then a really wonderful chocolate cream cheese frosting I think it might become like the only she kick you ever want to make so simple and the result is extremely light tender we're gonna make it in a stand mixer and it's a method called reverse creaming so it doesn't start with that normal step where you take the butter and sugar and beat it until it's light so we really kind of eliminate a lot of steps okay so here I have a 9 by 13 pan this is a metal pan if you're baking in glass you want to just drop the oven temperature 25 degrees because you'll get a little bit more browning around the edges and glass just take you know maybe like a half tablespoon or so it's room temperature and just use my fingers to smear it all around the bottom and sides and then I'm going to flour it so in this recipe we ice it directly in the pan and that's really convenient because if you're taking it to a party or you're just you know you need to transport it you can just take it right in the pan in which it's baked so and we flour it too because the flour helps the
caketo release so you can unmold it more easily so this recipe uses all-purpose flour so I'm going to use just...
a little extra here on the side to dust the inside of the pan so I'm just tapping around the flour to coat all right so everything's well coated I'm just tap out the excess I always start with repairing my pan because I've definitely had that happen where I get to mixed up a recipe and I'm ready to bake it and then I have to like take a pause and do the pan because I forgot all right so I'm using a stand mixer for this recipe you could do this at home with a hand mixer you'll just have to basically take a little bit longer for you just after beach that end point so it has the paddle attachment on it and the first thing I want to do is mix up all of my dry ingredients plus mesh sugar so again this method is referred to as reverse cremate so we're not starting with the butter and sugar first we're actually gonna start with all the dry ingredients so we have here all-purpose flour okay so kosher salt baking soda baking powder I found that the combination of powder and soda is really important when you have certain acidic ingredients and it's must be used as buttermilk so buttermilk is a great tenderizer I think it really contributes to a really beautiful texture so that's our leavening okay so now goes into the bowl of the mixer plus two cups just playing granulated sugar I'm gonna turn this on very low just to mix all these ingredients make sure those are all well blended so now I'm gonna mix my wet ingredients all together so...
technically sugar and baking is a wet ingredient but I added that here first mostly just to get it all distributed so now I have my buttermilk five yolks I can see yellow
cakeso there's a higher proportion of yolks giving it that sort of nice bright color then two whole eggs okay now I'm adding oil just vegetable oil or any other neutral oil and even though it's a butter based
cakeI always add a couple tablespoons of oil to every
cakerecipe because it really keeps the
cakeextremely moist and pliable sometimes butter
cakes have a tendency to dry out especially if they've been sitting on the counter for a couple days and then I have a tablespoon of vanilla extract it'll all get mixed again in the stand mixer as well with this reverse creaming method the first thing we want to do is work the butter into the flour mixture this butter is room temperature now the idea here is that we're trying to coat the flour or most of the flour in fat so that is gonna prevent gluten formation this is another reason why we don't have to use
cakeflour in this recipe so gluten is like what makes bread chewy it adds can add sort of a tough texture to
cakeif you work the flour too much within the presence of liquid so the first thing we're doing is adding fat to kind of like coat the flour so that when I do start adding the liquid there's less gluten formation it's important the butters room temperature otherwise it won't work very easily into the...
flour but you can just add it all at once and just hopefully prevent too much flour from spilling on your mixer because flutter is almost entirely fat there's not I'm not really at risk of overworking it there is no moisture in here or water that's going to like sort of activate the gluten and I want to go until the butter is worked into the mixture and the mixture kind of looks like coarse meal it'll kind of take on like a little bit of a yellow to you as well it's funny how we use coarse meal as an indicator it's like what is that like what is again if you're using a hand mixer for this step we'll just take a little bit longer and see what it looks like right there so we need some gluten formation you don't want zero gluten formation otherwise they'll be no structure to the
cakeso I'm gonna add my liquid now about half of it so at this stage I'm just gonna mix on low and try to hydrate all the flour and then I can add the rest so this reverse creamy method is particularly useful for layer
cakemaking because it is known to produce a very flat top like it prevents sort of that doming so when you're stacking layers it's really useful and in a sheet
cakeyou get or like a very beautiful flat surface for icing and now I can add the rest of the liquid so this is a great method because you can measure everything directly into the mixer besides your liquid ingredients it really is sort of a quicker method of mixing up a...
batter and to me the result is just as good if not better than you the traditional method now I said everything to smooth out and also I'm at this point I want to work some air into it so I'm going to turn up the speed a bit so you can see that the batter that's already in that in maybe 15 seconds light and quite a bit this much area and it's a couple shades too this is this working air into it and also I have to let it heat for up to two minutes because now I need to develop twenties so that the
cakehas some structure so this is looking great you can see how sort of smooth and silky it looks better really does gain so much volume with this method at the end so it really it sort of was surprising to me the first time I tried this method how fluffy and light the
cakeis so I'm just folding it a couple times with the spatula before I put it in our prepared pan because there still may be some areas that haven't quite mixed in all right now into our sheet pan and now I love to use just a little offset to smooth the batter out and work it into the corners trying to get one fairly even layer so for often for case you'll find that the direction say preheat oven to 350 this one is baked at 325 which helps to just again make a very even flat surface so it's another good trick if you're doing layers and round pans drop the temperature 25 degrees if you're trying to get something that's AG less domed this will go for the better part of an...
hour okay so this baked for about 55 minutes you can see has a beautiful even golden-brown color when I took it out I
tested it by just sort of tapping on the surface it should feel firm to the touch and spring back and you can also do a
tester right in the center so you'll notice as the
cakeis baking it'll start to look sort of matte around the edges and then if the center is still shiny and jiggly you have to let it go longer so wait for that even golden brown color you could do the sort of a touch
cakeis completely cooled so there's no heat on the bottom at all because if the
cakeis even a little bit warm it will melt the icing so try to be patient when it comes to letting it cool and now I'm gonna mix up the frosting I don't love American buttercream which is sort of just a fancy way of saying like a icing made from just butter and powdered sugar Kamiya tends to be kind of overly sweet but it is the advantage of an American buttercream is it's so easy to make you really just makes the ingredients together so I wanted to have something with the same ease but with maybe a little better balance so I'm adding cream cheese I have six ounces here and a stick and a half of butter the cream cheese adds a little bit of Tang what you think balances everything out nicely so the important thing here is that the cream cheese is very room temperature and the butter is very room temperature because if either one of them is colder or if...
their different temperatures they won't mix together very easily so you'll find sometimes there's like little bits of white in the butter and that's cream cheese was still cold so these go into the stand mixer and I have the paddle still so because those were very room temperature they blended together very easily I just scrape down the sides of the bowl and then increase the speed a little bit to get some air into the mixture start to whip it a little bit okay it is possible to over beat this so I'm stopping after a couple minutes the mixture is light and fluffy now I have a couple of cups of confectioner's sugar and powdered sugar and I'm adding all of this at once if I added it with the mixer going it would turn into like a big dust cloud and then my cocoa powder so this is a chocolate frosting I'm adding cocoa powder rather than like melted chocolate for a couple reasons so there's no added sugar or fat in here there's plenty of sugar and fat that I'm adding and I need that sugar and fat in the bowl for texture so I don't really want to add additional sugar in the form of chocolate this is just plain cocoa powder and you can use like a raw cocoa powder or a dutch process just in a while you prefer something good-quality and kosher salt kosher salt is really important in buttercream because it really helps balance out the intense sweetness and buttery flavor and I'm gonna start on very low so that I don't like create...
a big cloud burst of cocoa and powdered sugar you can kind of pulse this just to incorporate okay so now everything is incorporated I'm going to turn on the mix a little bit higher and this one I'm gonna whip it everything's will mix now there's no more like dry spots but I want to just scrape down the sides to make sure everything is evenly incorporated and then I'm going to whip it a little bit more you'll notice that the color will really change once we get some air into it and I'm gonna add my vanilla I've reserved this what is all the dry ingredients into work in first so you can see this is already lightened in texture and color quite a bit and I want to just keep going until it has like a nice fluffy frosting consistency and then not any further because it is possible to over whip it so I'm just putting the frosting directly on the surface of the
cakeokay so now time to ice again the
cakeis completely cooled if it were even a little bit warm it would start to melt that butter and the frosting will kind of start to slide around so I'm using just a small offset spatula you could use the back of a spoon or even a butter knife and I'd say this makes a pretty generous layer of frosting but the
cakeitself is a couple inches tall so I think it's actually a nice proportion of
caketo frosting and I'm just working it kind of first into the corners once it's all once I have full coverage and makes some nice like little...
swooshes and swirls I like when you see the texture of icing I don't want like a totally smooth surface you know but not like I want to like a wedding
cakeso I like you have this fluffy frosting and I like that you can see what the texture is this is a great celebration
cakebecause it feeds a lot of people and you don't have to deal with kind of like the stacking and filling of the layers and then the crumb coating and everything it's really just sort of two simple operations mixing the
cakeand then the icing some sprinkles here for decorating and now I can kind of go in with my little spatula and make some nice texture in the icing and now here's any sprinkles that you want or no sprinkles the more you want them to spread out the higher up you can kind of sprinkle them if you want them to be a little more concentrated an area just hold your hand a little closer to the
cakeso that's it I really think it's the easiest possible sheet
cakewith frosting that you can make without it coming from a box and you know it tastes like it's way more effort than it really is so perfect celebration
cakegreat for like kids
birthdayparties or just because they feel like baking so you normally need a reason the first piece is always a little hard to get out so to make it easier and that's also what you flower at the bottom to make it easier you can cut two slices actually I'll make it a little easier to lift out the first so...
I'm gonna taste it it's really nice to have a chocolate frosting that's not overly sweet good balance not that you know that those cream cheese in there but it is just sort of a little bit better balance than like your classic chocolate American buttercream and the