vanilla! vanilla! vanilla!
The title says it all. I had a project for my DD’s birthday, and since she is partially allergic to chocolates ( I know, I know, pity!), I can’t make our all time favorite chocolate cake. You might wonder why I say ‘partially allergic’. Well, she can take a little chocolate, but not too much. A slice of cake would be too much, an inch square of chocolate is fine. I’ve informed her teachers not to give her any chocolate products, and therefore, I can’t be providing chocolate cake for her birthday, can I? My DD knows her limits, and she’s awesome when it comes to what she can or cannot eat. She wanted strawberry cake for her preschool celebration, and also our family celebration. But that would mean more than RM60 worth of quality strawberries alone since I had to make a huge batch of cakes. Yikes! This is, after all, for a bunch of preschoolers. So I decided on the classic vanilla cake, with strawberry frosting to compensate for the strawberry cake.
So the search goes on for the perfect vanilla recipe. After hundreds of reviews reading and recipe googling, I finally decided to do an experiment of my own. After all, at that time, I had a month to prepare to the big day, plus what other excuse could I need? To top it off, I’ll throw in an experiment for frostings too. But that is for a later post. Now, back to my experiment. I decided to try the topmost vanilla recipes that came up when googled, and of course, based on raves and reviews. Here they are, not in any particular order:
1) Amy Sedari’s Vanilla cupcake
2) Billy’s Vanilla Vanilla cupcake
3) William Sonoma’s Vanilla cupcake
4) Rose Levy Beranbaum’s favorite yellow cake
5) Rose Levy Beranbaum’s white velvet cake
Rose Levy Beranbaum is the author of the famous book, The Cake Bible. Reportedly, her cakes are all good and her recipes are fullproof. We’ll see about that, eh.. 5 recipes? That seems like a big experiment. Oh well. I had a bigger purpose here. Hopefully at the end of it, I’ll get my go-to vanilla cake recipe, so why not tackel it all at once.
Amy Sedari’s Vanilla cupcake
This is too milky and sweet for me. Texture was great though, not too crumbly, just the right amount of moistness. Tastes even better chilled. But its too cloying to consume more than 1 medium sized cupcake at a time, but who else does that, right? On the other hand, the batter is perfect for making marble cake, swirls can be clearly seen.
Billy’s Vanilla Vanilla cupcake
Good texture, a little bit on the dense side, sweet but not too milky ( or is the milky taste is actually the vanilla taste?) My batter was a bit runny, had me a little worried there, but the cake rised beautifully. Not great to add chocolate chips in it though – the runny batter will result in the chips sinking to the bottom of the cupcake – as in the photo above. A thicker batter will work better.
William Sonoma’s Vanilla cupcake
I kind of like this cake. It rises nicely, its light and fluffy with a a nice texture, and tastes good. The top browns a little bit more than the others, and forms a nice crust which I like. You’ll either trim the crust off anyway, or covered it up with frosting, so it won’t matter much.
RLB Yellow Cake
So this is a yellow cake, not exactly a vanilla cake, but close enough. Flavor is good, texture also good. Moist, a little crumbly. Color a little bit yellowish. Come to think of it, it’s almost the same as the William’s Sonoma cake. After all those cupcakes, maybe I’m confused. haha.
RLB’s White Velvet Cake
This cake is pretty! It tastes superfine, like velvet, in the mouth, and not too crumbly. Don’t be deceived by the pic above, I didn’t clean up the crumbs from all the other cupcakes – lazy me! The cake has good texture, moist yet tender. Color is almost white, perfect for rainbow cakes.
All in all, the winner in my book is Williams Sonoma’s vanilla cake recipe – for a no fuss go-to vanilla cupcake/cake. Basic ingredients, easy methods, shortest baking time (eventhough I use the same temperature called for in each recipe, and the same cupcake pans, William’s turned out just as stated in the recipe). Taste, texture, moistness, all good. But I would say it is interchangeable with RLB’s yellow cake. Great for kids and giveaways, doorgifts, etc. All recipe refrigerates well, and delicous eaten chilled.
For a more sophisticated white cake, definitely RLB’s White Velvet Cake. Ingredients are a little bit pricier, but well worth the investment. Great for special occasions. I made this cake for the Little Mermaid cake, and it took the weight of ganache, fondant and gumpaste decorations really well. Combined with chocolate ganache.. mmm.. heavenly!
By time all the tasting was done, I was pretty much vanilla overdosed. Nothing but a nice cup of latte to wash it all down..and watch in horrific silence as the waistline grows wider. T_T