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Sara's Secrets: Basic Yellow Cake

Sara Moulton says of this cake, "What an exciting idea to be able to whip up a cake from scratch on a weeknight in only ten minutes." I guess so...I'm not really a "cake for cake's sake" person. I don't get the point of whipping up a plain cake for dessert. That's not terribly exciting to me.

If, however, you really like cake and want a quick recipe, this one's fairly good. The texture is rather coarse and the flavor is blandly vanilla, but if you follow Moulton's recommendations for toppings (berries and/or chocolate) this is a serviceable dessert.

Sara Moulton suggests sprinkling chocolate chips on top of the cake when it's warm right out of the oven. This makes for a very simple icing; just be sure to let the chips sit on the cake for about 10 minutes, or until they're completely melted. Miniature chips melt faster than regular ones, so use them if you've got them.

The cake becomes dry and stale very quickly. It's not terribly tasty the next day, so eat it up fresh out of the oven.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

3/4 cup sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups self-rising cake flour, OR 1 1/2 cups cake flour plus 1 3/4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan.

Combine the sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Process until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add eggs and vanilla and process until combined. Add the flour and milk; pulse once or twice, just until the flour is moistened. The mixture doesn't have to be smooth.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake in the upper third of the oven until the center springs back when gently pressed, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve, or invert onto a rack and continue to cool. If frosting with chocolate chips, invert the cake onto the rack and then top with about 1 cup of chips. Let sit for 10 minutes, then smooth with a knife or offset spatula.



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