Saturday, February 7, 2009

Basic 1-2-3-4 Yellow Cake

This classic, old fashioned, homemade from scratch 1-2-3-4 cake, gets its name from the use of 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour and 4 eggs. It's a great homemade cake for a birthday, or for any day!
This classic, old fashioned, homemade from scratch 1-2-3-4 cake, gets its name from the use of 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour and 4 eggs. It's a great homemade cake for a birthday, or for any day!

Basic 1-2-3-4 Yellow Cake

Now I gotta tell ya, while I certainly do use them like anybody else, I'm not real big on boxed cake mixes - not that there's anything wrong with them - not at all. I have a few of those recipes that specifically have always called for boxed cake mixes, and in those cases I use and love Duncan Hines brand cake mix. It was the brand Mama used and the one that I have always preferred.

Generally speaking, most boxed mixes just come off far too sweet for me and homemade is always best, plus I just prefer being able to control the sugar myself. But I totally understand the convenience of box mixes for sure.

This old fashioned 1-2-3-4 cake is such a cinch to make and really not any more trouble than a box mix in my opinion. It's been around longer than I have and has stood the test of time. If you have a failure making this cake, it's not the fault of the recipe. The name comes from the mix of ingredients - 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour and 4 eggs. Simple to remember. Classic in flavor. It's really the only yellow cake recipe you'll ever need because it's the perfect flavor, texture and crumb.

The quintessential classic birthday cake and the perfect vehicle for chocolate buttercream icing as I have done here, though it ain't bad with that old fashioned boiled peanut butter icing or even a caramel icing either. This is the perfect cake to use for Southern Praline Cake too!

One very important note concerning baking. Unlike cooking, baking is more of an exact science and measurements must be exact. One of the biggest mistakes folks make that cause failure with a cake, is measuring incorrectly. If your cake is dry, you likely over-measured using too much flour by scooping a measuring cup into the flour instead of spooning flour into the measuring cup and then leveling it. This is a very common mistake. When you scoop, you actually compact the flour and end up using more flour than the recipe called for, which messes up the liquid and fat ratios, usually resulting in a dense and dry cake.

Oven temperature is a factor as well. Remember, suggested oven times are just that. Suggestions. Your oven may bake unevenly, or the thermostat may not be functioning properly.

When baking a cake, never open the oven during the baking process, as that lowers the temperature of the oven and can cause your cake to collapse from its rise, leaving a crater in the center. Check the progress of your cake more toward the end, 5 to 10 minutes out from the suggested time, just in case your oven runs hot. I highly recommend using an oven thermometer for baking, where recipe temperature and time are much more critical than with cooking.


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Recipe: Basic 1-2-3-4 Yellow Cake

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 min

Total time: 45 min
Yield: About 12 servings

Ingredients
Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour or spray two or three (9-inch) or a 9 x 13 x 2 inch pan with Baker's Joy non-stick spray. Set aside.

In a mixer, cream the butter by itself until fluffy, than add the sugar, beating on high for about 8 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mixing in well before adding the next one. Start adding the flour and alternate adding in the flour and the milk, starting with the flour and ending with the flour. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Distribute evening into the prepared baking pan(s) and place into oven with a baking pan covered with aluminum foil on the rack just underneath to catch any potential spills.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until cake begins to draw away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack, allowing to rest in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cook's Notes: This cake has always required self-rising flour. Do not use all-purpose without adding the leavening or you will not like the results. Also, be sure that your self-rising flour is fresh as that is where the leavening is. You may substitute 3 cups all-purpose flour or cake flour, adding in 3 teaspoons of baking powder, or 2 plus 1 teaspoon baking soda if using buttermilk, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. If using a 9 x 13 inch pan and the peanut butter icing, the hot icing will go immediately on the hot cake as soon as you prepare it.

Important Tips: All ingredients should be at room temperature, not cold. When measuring flour for baking, stir the flour, use a spoon to scoop into the dry measuring cup and level, rather than scooping a measuring cup into the flour. When you do that, you actually compact the flour and end up using more flour than the recipe calls for, which alters the liquid and fat ratios, usually resulting in a dense and dry cake. Oven temperature is always a factor in baking as well. Remember, suggested oven times are just that. Suggestions. Your oven may bake unevenly, or the thermostat may not be functioning properly, especially if it is an older oven To help level the batter and remove air bubbles, lift the pan several inches off of the counter top and then drop it. Do this several times; it's noisy but it really does help to spread the batter out and bring air bubbles to the surface, which helps to make the cake bake more level.

For Cupcakes: Line standard sized 12-cup cupcake pans with liners or spray with a flour enhanced baking spray like Baker's Secret. You should get about 18 cupcakes. Prepare batter as above and distribute evenly between the cups, about 1/2 to 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, checking the center cupcakes with a toothpick to ensure they are done.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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