Checkerboard Cake

I’ve attempted to make a Checkerboard Cake two times before and both times I didn’t have much luck. The first time I followed the directions on the pan set  I have for it exactly, even following the recipe for the cake and I didn’t like the taste of the cake and my cake batter ran into each other so it didn’t look all that great when I sliced into it. The second time I opted to use box cake and while the cake tasted better I still had the issue of the cake batter running so once again not all that checkerboard looking when I sliced into it. According to the directions for the pan set you put the ring separator into the pan, pour the batter in, remove the ring and then bake. This wasn’t working for me, so on this (my third) try I opted to bake the cakes first and then use the ring separator to cut the cakes and then assemble it for the checkerboard pattern and I’m happy to say I didn’t strike out! Granted it was a bit messy to assemble but it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be fixed (or hidden) with a little frosting.

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Using Betty Crocker’s Super Moist Milk Chocolate and Yellow cake mix I prepared the cakes according to the directions on the box.

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After letting the cakes cool I took the ring separator and sliced each of the cakes into three rings.

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And then the messy part began… Assembling. As you can see some of the rings broke up a little, but like I said frosting covered up all the little imperfections. To make sure the rings of the cake wouldn’t fall apart when slicing I “glued” them together with icing along the inside of each ring.

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After covering the first layer with frosting I added the second layer and then spread frosting on it as well.

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And finally the third layer…

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I’ll admit the final product was a bit lopsided and could have used a little extra frosting (I used two containers of Betty Crocker’s Milk Chocolate Frosting to get to this point) but this was an afternoon whim of baking to see if the technique would work.

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And the moment of truth… I got a pretty decent looking checkerboard!!! The saying is true… If at first you don’t succeed try, try, try again. And I’ll definitely be trying it again with more time and frosting.

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Vanilla Pound Cake

Dinner at a friend’s house last week meant trying out a new recipe for me. I decided to keep it simple and bake a simple Vanilla Pound Cake from Martha Stewart.

The recipe consisted of ingredients I already had on hand: butter, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and salt.

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I started by beating the butter and sugar together on a high speed until the mixture was light and fluffy.

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Following that I added in each of the eggs one at a time.

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After the four eggs were added and mixed in well I then added in the vanilla extract and salt.

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I then switched my mixer to a lower speed and gradually added in the flour until the batter was just coming together.

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It was then ready to spread into my prepared pan – I sprayed it with baking spray.

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After baking in a 350 degree preheated oven for just shy of an hour it was ready to come out of the oven. I let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes…

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And then removed it from the pan and allowed it to cool completely.

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While the cake looked good I had a feeling that it was going to be on the dry side since the sides were a little dark and since dinner was rescheduled at the last minute I opted to bake another cake and make some tweaks to the directions. First off, the recipe called for a 6-cup loaf pan (8 1/2 inches x 4 1/2 inches) but since I didn’t have that size I just used what I had which was a 9 1/4 inches x 5 1/4 inches pan I had a feeling that this slight disparity in loaf pan size may have had something to do with the baking time and the oven temperature. So, for the second I decided to lower the temperature to 325 degrees and then baked the cake for approximately 50 minutes which was still a little long I found, but, produced a cake that was lighter in color and definitely moister. I definitely think you need the 6-cup loaf pan to make the most of this recipe. Next time I want to bake a simple pound cake I think I will go with Martha Stewart’s Classic Pound Cake recipe. The only reason I didn’t bake it this time was because it produced two cakes as opposed to one… In hindsight though I probably should have just gone with that one since I ended up baking two cakes anyway.

Vanilla Pound Cake

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 6-cup (8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch) loaf pan; set aside

2. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; add vanilla and salt. With mixer on low, gradually add flour, beating just until combined (do not overmix).

3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour (tent with aluminum foil if browning too quickly). Let cool in pan 15 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack, and turn upright to cool completely.

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