Birthday Cake

 

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I’m a big fan of back-of-the-box recipes, and not just those on food products. My favorite baking pans come wrapped in cardboard sleeves that each feature a recipe using that particular pan, and every one has been a keeper.

When Last born said she wanted a yellow cake with chocolate frosting for her recent birthday, I knew exactly the recipe to make – the one that came with my 9×13-inch Goldtouch® pan. Just one problem: the recipe makes an enormous, very tall, straight-sided cake. In contrast, a standard 9×13-inch pan is relatively shallow with sloping sides. The Gold Touch® pan is standard on steroids.

A really tall cake adversely affects the all-important cake-to-frosting ratio, so I elected to bake the batter in two 9×9-inch pans. The filled and frosted result, bedecked with the tallest birthday candles I could find, was still the size of a footstool, but much more delicious.

Classic Yellow Cake, adapted from a recipe on the back of the Goldtouch® 9×13-inch cake pan packaging but baked here in two 9×9-inch pans. This batter will overflow a standard 9×13-inch baking pan. If you absolutely must have an enormous 9×13-inch cake, I recommend you get yourself the mondo Goldtouch® pan.

4 1/4 cups (530g) cake flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups (560ml) whole milk, at room temperature (I usually warm fridge-cold milk in the microwave for a few seconds, testing for warmth with a fingertip, rather than leave milk out on a counter top for the time it would take to reach room temperature on its own.)

1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks/283.5g if using Land O’Lakes brand) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 1/2 cups (625g) granulated sugar

5 eggs, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9×9-inch baking pans.

Combine the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk thoroughly to combine. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vanilla. Set aside.

Put the softened butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a flat beater. Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl periodically. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in 4 parts, alternating with the milk mixture and beginning and ending with the flour. Beat each addition until just incorporated, again scraping the sides of the mixing bowl periodically.

Divide the cake batter evenly between the two 9×9-inch pans, smoothing the tops with an offset knife. Bake until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Transfer the cakes to wire racks to cool completely in the pans.

Once cool, carefully turn cakes out of pans. Place one on a large plate or platter and top with generous amounts of frosting. Place the second cake on top of the first, lining up the edges as best you can, and spread more frosting on top. You can frost the sides, too, if you want, but I chose not to. (I made Dark Chocolate Frosting from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook [page 631], with great results.)

**For a convenient chart of cake pan conversions, click here for a comprehensive one compiled by allrecipes.com.

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