Friday, January 8, 2010

Its a Nice Day for a White Wedding Cake

Dear Tricia, How can I make WHITE white cake? Can I bake with the yolks? Do I have to separate them?

I'm going to refer back to an older blog from last winter about how to get white butter frosting:

OK friend, easy answer. Your icing turned yellow because half the ingredients in your recipe are YELLOW. The only way to fix this is to use icing with no yellow ingredients, or perhaps one of the following:

1. Learn to breed albino cows that make white butter with their milk.
2. Use only egg whites, or even better... use the white shell too for extra whitening. Hell, throw in some whitening toothpaste while you're at it. And a dash of Oxy Clean!
3. Re-construct the color spectrum so that our eyes see yellow as white. I see this one as the most feasible option.

For real though, anytime you want white icing, you're going to have to use mostly shortening as the fat because it's white. Even with butter cream icing, and listen up brides because this is directed at you, you'll never get solid white frosting because butter cream has BUTTER in it. It is yellow. It is not white and it never will be. (Although I've seen some crazy mothers of brides get away with some crazy stuff... maybe one of them will figure out how to change the color spectrum.)

This question is along those same lines, but on a less-extreme level that I promise I will judge you much less for. I think I might have been having a bad day when i wrote that.
You can't get white cake that is truly white if you add a bunch of whole eggs because yolks are- you guessed it- yellow. So the goal here is to add as few yellow ingredients as possible, or a large amount of whipped egg whites to offset the color. Think of angel food cake and how virginal white it is: the main ingredients are sugar, egg whites, flour, which are all white. However, those ingredients don't make for a very sturdy cake... Angel food cake would be like the Michael Jackson of cakes: super frail and white. But if you're looking for a sturdier (isn't it weird that "sturdier" is a real word? I think its weird.) cake that is less squishy and more suitable for decorating, you're going to have to add a few extra ingredients that will also make it less white, like whole eggs or butter, and that's ok, as long as the white stuff is the main ingredient.
Here's a recipe for a basic white chiffon cake with the whole egg, but you separate the whites from the yolks and beat them separately. It involves a few more steps than your average cake recipe, but if you can master it, is a traditional cake recipe that you will be able to use forever. When I was in pastry school, this was the type of cake we used for our basic white wedding cakes. It does have a fair amount of butter, but because of all the egg whites you're using, it will still be pretty white. My favorite recipe is from the Fanny Farmer Baking Book, but I've made some modifications to it.

1- 10' Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour*
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
8 egg whites

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
1. Combine the flour, 3/4 cup of the sugar, baking powder, salt, and sift them together into a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the oil, egg yolks, water, and vanilla and beat until completely smooth.
3. In a separate large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they begin to foam. Slowly add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and beat until the whites are stiff. **
4. Gently stir in 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter.
5. Drop the remaining whites on the batter and fold them in.
6. Pour into ungreased cake pan with parchment paper on the bottom.***

Bake until top is golden brown and the middle springs back when you press it with your finger. If you're using my oven, that's 25-30 minutes, but it could take way less in yours. Stop letting your oven timer rule your life and just check it every now and until for golden color and to test it with your finger.

*Refer to my "Hyper Hypo Loves Christmas Cookies" blog entry on why you should use cake flour instead of all purpose flour.
** Refer to my "Diana Ross, Daryl Hannah, and Your Meringue" blog entry on more tips for whipping super fluffy egg whites.
*** If you grease the pan, the batter won't have anything to grab on to as it rises. When its done, use a butter knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan and turn it upside down on a rack to cool.

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