the general consensus of the food world is that cooking is an art and baking is a science. while i’m good with math, i’m not that good with creating new chemicals from various elements in through ratios. or, at the very least, my ratios are emotional rather than based on an understanding of concrete baking theories.
i need to work on this.
which, is why i opted for the pain-staking task of making a recipe for a cake for my birthday. i don’t know if you realize this, but birthday cakes and me, there’s a tension between us. i love them. i love making them. they love me. but, sometimes, they need to go sleep on the couch. and sometimes, i need to admit that i’m wrong for rushing them. usually, when i make something for someone else, i don’t rush things. i stay calm, patient and wait the problem out. when i’m making things for myself, i cut corners.
luckily, the cake was round.
i decided this year that i wanted cherry cake. not black forest cake, not cake with cherry icing. cherry cake. full stop.
attempt one. messy.
attempt one involved deb’s yellow cake recipe, but with the buttermilk halved and maraschino cherry juice added. cherries were thrown in. it was dry and not very cherry. sadness ensued (except from coworkers, who were confused about why the summer student was making her own birthday cupcakes).
attempt two called for a regular amount of buttermilk, more egg yolk, less egg white, almond extract instead of vanilla and blended sour and fresh cherries, pushed through a sieve. this was a clearer win. the icing can be found here.
makes two 9-inch layer cakes
adapted from smitten kitchen
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken
2 cups sour cherries, well smashed
butter two 9-inch round cake pans and flour.
sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
in a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars in a large bowl at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in almond extract.
add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
at low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled).
mix in cherries until just combined.
add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.
spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles.
bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
cool in pan, then run a knife around edge of pan.
invert onto rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.