Reviewing The Cake Bible: White Velvet Butter Cake
Baking – like reading and blogging – is an activity I enjoy immensely, and one of my goals for the year is to bake my way through The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, an infamous (U.S.) dessert recipe book and baking guide. I thought it would be fun to incorporate my love for baking into my blog, so the idea for Reviewing The Cake Bible was born. The following review, as the title of this post indicates, is for the White Velvet Butter Cake recipe.
For this cake, I chose to add whipped cream (more on this in a minute) and berries to give the final result a more colorful, fresh look (plus, whipped cream and berries is one of my favorite sweet combinations – I would add it to everything if I could). I can’t believe I didn’t get a photo, but the inside is in fact quite white as the title suggests. Mine looks golden on the outside because I did not remove the caramelization from the edges or top – I rarely do on a butter cake because A. It’s tedious and B. I like the flavor it adds. And as far as the ingredients and instructions, it’s a pretty straightforward butter cake recipe, which makes it perfect for both baking novices and experts.
What sets the White Velvet Butter Cake apart from a yellow butter cake is the use of egg whites instead of the yolks. Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe for All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake (which I have yet to try for myself) requires 6 egg yolks, whereas this butter cake requires 4½ egg whites – which also produces about a half an ounce more ‘liquid’. As Rose explains and as I tasted, “Egg whites produce a softer cake than yolks or whole eggs.”
This cake was so fluffy and sweet and yes, soft – if I do say so myself. It is recommended in The Cake Bible to adorn this particular dessert with a non-chocolate buttercream/frosting, as chocolate would overwhelm the delicious texture of the cake. This is certainly obvious after trying the cake, and my recommendation would, of course, be to top it with something as light as whipped cream. I think even a vanilla buttercream would be too much on the cake. Oh! The Mascarpone Frosting would be SO GOOD on this cake.
One other note I have is while this recipe does make two layers, I think this cake is best eaten as one layer. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned the following in my other Cake Bible posts, but cake is not one of my favorite desserts to eat – it’s quite low on the list actually; I just love to make it – and so two layers of this one was a bit too much for me. A simple one-layer slice, however, is something I would eat again.
And now for an honorable mention: the Perfect Whipped Cream.
Whipped cream is, in my opinion, the best topping for cakes. It’s light and airy and not too sweet, and I always have the necessary ingredients in my kitchen. Well, outside of a pandemic, that is. As with many simple baking supplies, heavy cream (which Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Perfect Whipped Cream recipe calls for) was something my grocery store was unable to keep stocked for very long around the time I made this cake – understandably. Thus I embarked on an additional baking project: making my own heavy cream. Of course it’s possible [Google’s search results tell me] but I very much underestimated the complexity of getting the milk and butter to combine with each other – because they really didn’t want to. I will link the site I referred to here, although my end result looked more like I chopped up butter and poured milk over it than it did smooth, usable cream. I’m not really blaming the instructions I followed, because they seem to be standard among similar resources; would I try it again if I absolutely had to? No, I would go without whipped cream.
Failed baking experiment aside, I was ultimately able to get my hands on some all-purpose whipping cream to make my topping. All-purpose whipping cream contains about a half a gram less of fat than heavy whipping cream, which typically contains about the same amount of fat as heavy cream (the only one among the three that has a specific requirement of at least 36% fat content). So did my substitution work as well as heavy cream in The Cake Bible’s recipe? Yes – the stiff peaks held well after I cut into the cake. Will I write about the recipe again when I can get heavy cream with which to make it? Also yes – I can’t really review the recipe if I don’t follow the instructions exactly, right? Will I stop rambling about cream and end this post already? Triple yes!