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Saturday, July 20, 2013

4 Ingredient Cake from Scratch

This is one of my favorite "go to" recipes when I need to whip up a cake quickly. There's only 4 simple ingredients and it comes out perfectly every single time. It's a great cake to make because the structure depends more upon the eggs and it actually has very little flour. This means not only is it very stable, but you can add any type of homemade flavored simple syrup to it to make it extremely moist and have it any flavor you want!

This light, airy cake also works well for layering tall cakes or is delicious with something simple like berries and whip cream. It's almost like a moist and tender angel food cake but with more "cake-like" flavor.

The ingredient list is for 1 9" layer, but you can change the yield to update the ingredient quantities for the number of layers you want. The pictures below are from making this TARDIS cake which was a total of 7 layers. I'd already made 3 layers the night before so there are only 4 layers in the photos.

Even if making a square cake, I find that a round cake pan cooks a lot more evenly and produces a better quality cake. If you need to, you can cut off the edges and carefully piece them together to make an extra layer or two in the cake. I like to use the leftover cake parts to make cake balls with. Holla!


(You can change the  number of layers you want and it will automatically adjust the ingredients for you.)

Yield 9" round layer(s)

90.00gcake flour (This is found next to the other flours in the baking aisle of your grocery store. The other flours will not work for this recipe.)
4.00lgeggs at room temperature
60.00gsugar (for the egg whites)
125.00gsugar (for the egg yolks)
1tspvanilla extract (don't use imitation vanilla. This is a very simple cake and the imitation vanilla will stand out like a cold sore.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C)
  2. Cut parchment paper to fit into the bottom of your pan(s). Some people fold the paper in half, then in half again and so on, then clip the outside to fit. I find that the previously folded paper doesn't stay on the bottom of the pan very well and sometimes batter gets underneath it. I prefer to use one of the pans as a template and draw a line onto the top sheet of parchment, then cut them all out at once. The paper doesn't have to go all the way to the edge. If it's about 1/4" to 1/2" from the edge it'll be perfect. I've also recently discovered that the Reynold's brand pan liner (which is foil on one side and parchment on the other) is much easier to cut and stays flat on the bottom better than regular parchment paper.
    Cutting out the parchment paper to line the bottom
  3. Separate the egg whites and egg yolks into two different bowls. The egg whites must go into a clean metal bowl, if there is even the slightest trace of oil or egg yolks in them, they won't whip properly. The egg yolks can go into any type of bowl. A few years ago, because I made so many sponge cakes, my friend gave me an extra mixing bowl for my birthday. It's been the best birthday present ever! So, when I make this cake, I just put the whites in one bowl and the yolks in the other. :)
  4. Begin whipping the egg whites on medium low. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar (for egg whites) while whipping. Increase the mixer speed a notch, then add a bit more sugar. Keep alternating until you have stiff peaks.
    Mixing just begun, maybe about a tablespoon of sugar has been added

    Mixing speed gradually increased, more sugar added

    Egg whites almost at soft peaks. Time to add sprinkle in the remaining sugar.

    Egg whites all done. This is what stiff peaks look like.
  5. Set the whipped egg whites aside. In another mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until they star becoming pale. (You can use the same beater, no need to clean it. But do not reverse these steps as the egg yolk oil will cause the whites not to whip!)
    Whip the egg yolks until they begin getting pale
  6. Sprinkle the sugar (for egg yolks) into the yolks add the vanilla extract. Beat until pale and slightly increased in volume.
    Egg yolks are ready, egg whites are in stiff peaks and the flour is all measured out
  7. Per the Perfect cakes every time in 8 easy steps post and the proper folding video, fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the yolks, then 1/2 of the flour, another 1/3 of the egg whites, the rest of the flour, then the final egg whites.

    If you're only making one layer, it should take only about 15 folds if you're folding using the correct technique. Since I was making 4 layers, it took 35 folds. How do I  know how many folds it took? I count them. Yes, every single time I fold something, I count. That keeps me in check. It's very easy to fold 100 times thinking you're doing something great, only to end up with cakes that are rubbery.
    Ready for the oven!
  8. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Baking time can vary greatly depending on whether or not you're using a convection oven and also based on how many layers you're baking. When I made the single layer in my convection oven, it took exactly 20 minutes. When I made 4 layers, it took 25 minutes.

    Begin checking at 20 minutes by sticking a clean dry toothpick directly in the center of a cake. If it comes out clean (or with a few crumbs), it's done. Take it out straight away. If you see cake batter, leave it in the oven and check again in 4 minutes.

    By the way, cake batter is delicious and I'd be lying if I told you that I didn't lick the toothpick after testing. But, you cannot re-use the same toothpick. Once the toothpick is wet, it doesn't pick up cake batter anymore so you may pull out your cakes only to find out later on that they're actually raw in the middle. :(
  9. As soon as you remove them from the oven, carefully run a spatula or knife around the rim of the pan and invert them onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment paper and let them cool.
The cakes will be very delicate and simple. If you're not going to use them immediately, they can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and frozen for up to two months. Thaw for 30 minutes before using.
Put about 4 tablespoons of simple syrup onto the cake layer before icing it. It really kicks up the cake flavor and gives you limitless flavor possibilities without having to worry about messing up the integrity of the cake. It also adds a tremendous amount of moisture. Without cake syrup, this cake will last about 2 days in the refrigerator before it starts feeling dry. With cake syrup, it can easily last a week and still be as fresh as the day it was baked!

To make simple syrup, bring one cup water and one cup sugar to a boil for a few minutes. Remove from heat and stir in flavor of your choice: lime zest, orange zest, lemon zest, cinamon, amaretto, Triple sec, rum, etc. If using vanilla extract (or any other type of extract), let the mixture cool completely before adding.

Thanks for reading. Hope the post helps you on your next baking adventure. If you have any questions, I'm happy to answer them.


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