Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend
1 2/3 cups sugar; superfine sugar is best
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs whites plus 1 whole large egg
1 cup full-fat vanilla yogurt or 1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 3/4 cups unsweetened baking cocoa
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup unsalted butter, very soft
1/8 teaspoon salt
2.5 cups confectioners' sugar (adjust up or down for firmer/softer icing)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8" x 2" or 9" x 2" round pans; a 9" x 13" pan; or 2 standard cupcake pans (20 to 24 cupcakes) by greasing and flouring; or lining with parchment, then greasing the parchment. Note: Make sure your 8" round pans are at least 2" deep; if they're not, use one of the other pan options.
2) Mix all of the dry ingredients on slow speed to blend. Add the soft butter and mix until evenly crumbly, like fine damp sand. It may form a paste, depending on the temperature of the butter, how much it's mixed, and granulation of the sugar used.
3) Add the egg whites one at a time, then the whole egg, beating well after each addition to begin building the structure of the cake. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.
4) In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt (or milk) with the vanilla and almond extracts. Add this mixture, 1/3 at a time, to the batter. Beat 1 to 2 minutes after each addition, until fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
5) Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes for 8" or 9" rounds; 36 to 42 minutes for a 9" x 13" x 2" sheet cake; or 18 to 20 minutes for cupcakes. A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan, if desired (not advisable for a 9" x 13" sheet cake), cool on a rack, and frost.
Yield: Two 8" or 9" round layers; one 9"x 13" x 2" sheet cake, or 20 to 24 cupcakes.
1) Strain the cocoa, confectioners' sugar and espresso powder, if using, into a bowl.
2) Bring the cream to a simmer on the stove or in the microwave, and whisk into the cocoa mixture.
3) At first the mixture will look grainy; continue whisking for a minute.
4) You'll see the lumps disappear as the sugar dissolves and the cocoa hydrates. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
5) Place the butter, salt, and 2.5 cups strained confectioners' sugar in a large mixing bowl.
6) Beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.
7) With the mixer running on low speed, add the cocoa mixture a spoonful at a time until it's all incorporated. Scrape the bowl, then beat at medium speed for one minute more. Use to frost cake as needed.