Every baker should have a recipe for a basic yellow
cake like this one. Its buttery flavor and moist
texture make it the most versatile cake in the book.
It has less sugar than most traditional yellow
cakes, yielding a more delicate crumb. The eggs must
be at room temperature, or they will not incorporate
well into the butter.
Makes two 9 x 2-inch round layers 3 cups sifted cake
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room
temperature, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the insides of two 9
x 2-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking
spray, line the bottoms with parchment rounds, then
the spray the parchment.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt
in a medium-size bowl to combine and aerate; set
3. Beat the butter until creamy, about 2 minutes,
with an electric mixer on medium-high speed. Add the
sugar gradually and beat until very light and
fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl once or
twice. Beat in vanilla.
4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down
after each addition and allowing each egg to be
absorbed before continuing. Add the flour mixture in
three additions, alternately with the milk, while
beating on low speed. Begin and end with the flour,
and beat briefly until smooth. Divide the batter
evenly between the pans and smooth the tops with an
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick
inserted into the layers shows a few moist crumbs
when removed. The layers will be tinged light golden
brown around the edges and top and will have begun
to come away from the sides of the pans.
6. Cool the pans on wire racks for 8 to 10 minutes.
Unmold, peel off the parchment, and place the layers
directly on the racks to cool completely. The layers
are ready to fill and frost. Alternatively, place
the cooled layers on cardboard rounds and
double-wrap in plastic wrap; store at room
temperature, and assemble and serve within 24 hours.
Hummingbird Cake with Fresh Fruit
A favorite in the southern United States, this cake is
loaded with pineapple, nuts, and bananas, making it
moist, flavorful, and a good keeper. Baked in a Bundt
pan and covered with cream cheese frosting, the cake
makes for an unusual but welcome birthday cake. To gild
the lily, I fill the center of the cake with fresh
fruit, making it a perfect choice for a fruit lover.
Makes one 10 inch Bundt cake; serves 16
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil such as canola or safflower
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large ripe bananas, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans halves, chopped
1 cup canned crushed pineapple, lightly drained
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting (page 52)
3 cups fresh fruit such as quartered strawberries, whole
raspberries, or peeled and sliced peaches or nectarines
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat
the oven to 350 F. Coat the inside of a Bundt pan with
nonstick cooking spray, then completely dust with flour
and shake out the excess.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda,
cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl to combine and
aerate; set aside.
3. Whisk together the oil and eggs until well blended in
a medium size bowl. Stir in the bananas, nuts,
pineapple, and vanilla.
4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until
combined. The batter will be heavy; make sure you
combine well and there are no pockets of flour left.
Scrape into the prepared pan.
5. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until
a wooden skewer inserted into the cake shows a few moist
crumbs when removed. Cool the pan on a wire rack until
almost completely cooled. Unmold and place the cake
directly on the rack to cool completely. The cake is
ready to frost. Alternatively, place the cake on a
cardboard round and double-wrap in plastic wrap; store
at room temperature and assemble within 24 hours.
6. Have the frosting ready to use. Cover the entire
cake, top, sides, and inside the center with frosting.
Make attractive but casual swirls here and there all
over the cake with an icing spatula or the back of a
spoon. The cake may be served immediately, or
refrigerated overnight in a covered container. Bring to
room temperature before serving.
7. Right before serving, fill the center of the cake
with your fruit of choice, making sure there is a
generous amount, mounding it in the center. If desired,
individual pieces of fruit can be used to decorate the
base of the cake as well; this works best with berries.
Strawberries or raspberries can also be used as
candleholders. A generous application of frosting will
anchor the berries. For raspberries, use dry, firm
berries and place them open side up around the top of
the cake; insert candles gently so that each berry hugs
the base of a candle; push the candles all the way into
the cake. For strawberries, choose smaller berries,
remove the stems and place stem-end down on top of the
cake. Use a skewer to make a hole through the berry
vertically, then insert a candle.
Here's how to make a parchment paper
pastry bag or cone for piping swag and other