Quantcast
Home » News
Home » News

New cookbook proves baking a cake isn't rocket science (with recipe)

Published August 11, 2016 10:02 am

Cookbook • Starting with an all-purpose "mother mix," author simplifies the baking experience.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

For those addicted to the box cake mix — or anyone afraid of making a cake from scratch — cookbook author Caroline Wright has something to tell you: "It's not rocket science."

"It's not that hard and it's not that scary and it's not that scientific," she said.

Wright has attempted to "strip all the science and get to the fun" of cake baking in her new cookbook, "Cake Magic! Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations" (Workman/$17.95). She will discuss and sign copies of the book Thursday, Aug. 11, at Salt Lake City's King's English Book Shop. The evening includes a cake contest. (See box below for details.)



After writing an easy dinner cookbook, "Twenty-Dollar, Twenty-Minute Meals," Wright wanted her next project to be a baking book. "Resolving the box mix issue was a good way to start," she said during a recent interview from her home in Dallas.

She created a basic recipe for a dry cake mix that includes just five ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. The recipe can be doubled and tripled so cake mix is always on hand. "All of the cakes in the book come from this mother mix," she said.

She also has created a gluten-free, vegan cake mix recipe. "I'm the most proud of that mix, not because I want to be hipster," she said, "but because everyone I know knows someone who is gluten-intolerant or gluten-free."

From one of those two mixes, cooks add eggs, butter, liquid and other ingredients depending on what flavor cake they want to make. Vanilla, chocolate, coconut and nut are among the options. "But the process for each cake is essentially the same — only the flavorings change," she said.

The batters can be stirred together in a single bowl with just a spoon. "No equipment needed," she said.

The next step is to select a syrup — a sort of cake cocktail — which Wright said is a secret used by professional bakers to add moisture and increase shelf life. "When the cake is warm, you poke holes in it with a skewer and pour the syrup over the top," she said.

It's a step that can be eliminated if you're short on motivation or time, but it's also where cooks can get creative using unique flavors like rum, rosemary, tea and even bacon.

The final step is to select a frosting.

By following this "mix-and-match" system, cooks can make dozens of cakes, from a chocolate cake with milky caramel syrup and salted caramel frosting to the vanilla cake with peach syrup and cream cheese frosting. (See recipe below.)

There are photos of every cake in the book as well as tips for using different pans, substitutions, troubleshooting and tips for frosting and decorating.

While Wright attended culinary school, she said she is still a "home baker" at heart. "Growing up, my parents didn't allow junk food, unless I made it myself," she said. "That backfired on them, because I was baking all the time."

During her career, she has developed recipes for Martha Stewart and worked with top bakers, but she remembers her "7-year-old self" when developing recipes. "I love writing recipes and making things easy for people," she said, adding that she refuses to join in the conversation when people say how difficult it is to make a cake. "It's part of the culture, but I refuse to do that," she said. "It's not rocket science, we're just making a cake for a party."

kathys@sltrib.com

Peaches and cream cake

Cake Magic! Cake Mix

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon table salt (see note)

Vanilla cake:

Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pans

All-purpose flour, for dusting the pans

4 cups dry Cake Magic! Cake Mix (see ingredients above), whisked well before measuring

3/4 cup full-fat plain yogurt (preferably not Greek yogurt)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, or 1 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup water

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature

Mixed berry syrup:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons peach jam

1 tablespoon seedless strawberry jam

Pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cream cheese frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

4 cups (one 16-ounce box) confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the cake mix: Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together well to combine. Whisk the mix again before measuring.

For the vanilla cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of pans — two (8- or 9-inch) round layer cake, one 10-inch bundt cake, one 13-by-9-inch sheet cake, or 24 cupcakes.

Dust with flour to coat, then invert and tap out any excess. (If making cupcakes, use liners instead of greasing and coating the tins.)

Place the cake mix in a large bowl. Stir in the yogurt, butter, water, vanilla and eggs until moistened and no lumps remain (be careful not to overmix). Divide the batter between the prepared pans.

Bake until the layers are domed and golden brown, and a few moist crumbs cling to a skewer inserted in the center of the cake, 35 to 40 minutes (40 to 50 minutes for a bundt, 25 to 30 minutes for a 13-by-9-inch cake, and 20 to 25 minutes for cupcakes).

While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Combine the sugar, water, jam and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then stir in the vanilla. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep, covered, for at least 20 minutes.

Strain the syrup. Use the syrup warm or at room temperature.

After removing the hot cake layers from the oven, pierce them, still in their pans, at 1-inch intervals with a skewer or a paring knife. Pour or generously brush the syrup over the surface of the hot layers, dividing between the cakes evenly. Transfer the soaked layers (still in their pans) to a wire rack to cook completely. When cool and no longer wet to the touch, one or two hours, carefully turn them out of the pans and frost.

For the frosting: Combine the butter, cream cheese, salt and 2 cups of the sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the remaining sugar and beat on medium speed until the frosting is pale and no longer grainy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until the frosting is very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Note • It's important to use table salt in the cake mix; other types will eventually settle out of the mix.

Servings • One (8- or 9-inch) two-layer cake, or one 10 -inch bundt cake, or one (13-by-9-inch) sheet cake, or 24 cupcakes

Source: "Cake Magic!" by Caroline Wright; Workman Publishing

Learning the secrets of 'Cake Magic'

Cookbook author Caroline Wright will discuss and sign "Cake Magic! Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations." She'll also help judge a cake contest.

When • Thursday, Aug. 11, 7 p.m.

Where • The King's English Bookshop, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Cost • Books are $17.95. Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of "Cake Magic!" at the King's English. To pre-order a signed copy call 801-484-9100 or visit kingsenglish.com.

Contest • Bake your best cake for a this local contest. Categories include best tasting cake, best-looking cake and most unusual mix+match creation. Winners will receive signed copies of Wright's book and a gift certificate to a local bakery. —

Peaches and cream cake

Cake Magic! Cake Mix

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups sugar

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon table salt (see note)

Vanilla cake

Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pans

All-purpose flour, for dusting the pans

4 cups dry Cake Magic! Cake Mix (see ingredients above), whisked well before measuring

¾ cup full-fat plain yogurt (preferably not Greek yogurt)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, or 1 cup vegetable oil

¾ cup water

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature

Mixed berry syrup

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

2 tablespoons peach jam

1 tablespoon seedless strawberry jam

Pinch of salt

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cream cheese frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

4 cups (one 16-ounce box) confectioners' sugar

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the cake mix: Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together well to combine. Whisk the mix again before measuring.

For the vanilla cake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and side of pans — two (8- or 9-inch) round layer cake, one 10-inch bundt cake, one 13-by-9-inch sheet cake, or 24 cupcakes.

Dust with flour to coat, then invert and tap out any excess. (If making cupcakes, use liners instead of greasing and coating the tins.)

Place the cake mix in a large bowl. Stir in the yogurt, butter, water, vanilla and eggs until moistened and no lumps remain (be careful not to overmix). Divide the batter between the prepared pans.

Bake until the layers are domed and golden brown, and a few moist crumbs cling to a skewer inserted in the center of the cake, 35 to 40 minutes (40 to 50 minutes for a bundt, 25 to 30 minutes for a 13-by-9-inch cake, and 20 to 25 minutes for cupcakes).

While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Combine the sugar, water, jam and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then stir in the vanilla. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep, covered, for at least 20 minutes.

Strain the syrup. Use the syrup warm or at room temperature.

After removing the hot cake layers from the oven, pierce them, still in their pans, at 1-inch intervals with a skewer or a paring knife. Pour or generously brush the syrup over the surface of the hot layers, dividing between the cakes evenly. Transfer the soaked layers (still in their pans) to a wire rack to cook completely. When cool and no longer wet to the touch, one or two hours, carefully turn them out of the pans and frost.

For the frosting: Combine the butter, cream cheese, salt and 2 cups of the sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the remaining sugar and beat on medium speed until the frosting is pale and no longer grainy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until the frosting is very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Note • It's important to use table salt in the cake mix; other types will eventually settle out of the mix.

Servings • One (8- or 9-inch) two-layer cake, or one 10 -inch bundt cake, or one (13-by-9-inch) sheet cake, or 24 cupcakes

Source: "Cake Magic!" by Caroline Wright; Workman Publishing

 

 

 

 

 

USER COMMENTS
Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
comments powered by Disqus