By the Book- Piece of Cake

[by Melissa Gray]
My supposed plan to start using my actual cookbooks has been sort of a bust, but I did manage to use All Cakes Considered this week. My yearbook class decided to throw a potluck and I offered to bring a cake, partially because I'd had the urge lately to make one. I decided on a simple Devil's Food chocolate with raspberry filling and a white frosting from my Better Homes and Garden book. It turned out pretty tasty, except maybe a tiny, tiny bit drier than I would have liked (the recipe called for thirty minutes; I think twenty-seven minutes would have been better).

A few things to note:
- Always use cake flour when you make a cake. It has a lower protein count and ends up producing a softer, finer crumb because of less gluten being formed.
- Baking a cake from scratch is barely more trouble than making one from a box- don't be scared. If you have everything to make cookies, you probably have everything to make a cake.
- This recipe called for a cup of strong coffee, but you can barely taste it when the cake is done baking. Combined with the cocoa, the cake wasn't quite as sweet as standard ones. 

[coffee and unsweetened cocoa]

- I actually followed a recipe for the frosting this time; generally I just throw together some butter, milk, and powdered sugar. This recipe used shortening instead of butter, and also vanilla and almond extract. The nice thing about actually going by the script is that you don't end up with twice as much, a result of over-adding and then compensating. 
 - If making a layer cake, make sure to take then extra two minutes and cut out pieces of parchment paper for the bottom of the pans. Then, spray the bottom and the sides. When the cake is done let it cool for ten minutes, run a knife along the sides and it'll slip out easily (that's what she said)
[it looks like my cake is bleeding and clotting]

- Beautiful white cakes are easily messed up by novice decorators with a heavy hand and store bought tubes of frosting... 

[90% of the students at our school have no clue our book is called The Serrano]

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