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QUESTION OF THE DAY: October 6, 2020
How can I make ultra-plush sheet cake?
Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Frosting. Recipe Developed by Andrea Geary.
Yellow sheet cake is a darling of American desserts: It’s classic, universally liked, and just right for serving by the square. And yet it never seems to realize its full potential. The crumb is usually OK—moist and relatively coarse—but there’s no reason that a sheet cake can’t have a truly special texture. I’m talking about an extraordinarily fine, uniform crumb, the kind so tender that it practically dissolves on the palate. I wanted to combine this plush texture with fresh, buttery flavor. And for a cake this good, only a rich, creamy chocolate frosting would do.
The unique crumb I’m referring to shows up in what is known as a “high-ratio” cake. Most cake formulas are low ratio, meaning they have slightly less sugar by weight than flour, but some are high ratio, meaning—you guessed it—they have more sugar by weight than flour. And that’s key because sugar doesn’t just sweeten a cake; it also adds moisture and makes the crumb finer and more tender. Keep reading →
Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Frosting
We make everyone’s favorite cake even better by combining a fine, plush texture with fresh, homemade flavor. Then we crown it with a rich chocolate frosting.
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A fine, uniform crumb
Reverse creaming combines the dry ingredients with the fat before the eggs and liquid ingredients are beaten in. Only a small amount of air gets incorporated during mixing, resulting in a superfine texture.
Extended shelf life
Using oil as half the fat in the cake ensures a moist crumb that stays that way for longer.
Creamy, sturdy frosting
American buttercream holds its shape even in warm weather. Adding hot water reduces the grittiness of the confectioners’ sugar, and a combination of cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate yields a frosting with rich, multidimensional chocolate flavor.
Andrea Geary is a test cook, as well as the deputy food editor, for Cook’s Illustrated. She’s responsible for editing all the recipes in the magazine and on the website, which means that she spends a shocking amount of time pondering questions such as, “What’s the best way to describe ice water in an ingredient list?” (Seriously though, how much of it should be ice? How much should be water?) Of the many recipes she’s developed, CI’s French Apple Tart is her favorite because it’s easy to make but very impressive looking, so it makes even the most inexperienced baker feel like an accomplished pastry chef.
More from our latest issue:
Almost No-Knead Sourdough Bread 2.0
Cucumber Tomato Salad
Farro and Broccoli Rabe Gratin
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This content is from the September/October 2020 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. Not a subscriber? Let’s change that →
Hurts So Good
Spicy foods and the compelling chemistry of chemesthesis. Read more →
Mole Hot Fried Chicken
Packed to the brim with cayenne pepper, this Tennessee fried chicken specialty goes on the short list of foods that have had us in tears, desperately reaching for a glass of milk.
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Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken
This week’s menus include Sesame Noodles with Shredded Chicken, Clams Steamed in White Wine, and Simple Broiled Chicken Breasts for dinner in about an hour. Get the menu →
Safety Tips for Handling Raw Chicken
Don’t even think about rinsing raw chicken. Learn how to prep it safely and disinfect your cutting board properly to avoid bacterial contamination.
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Keeping up with the team . . .
This week we’re hearing from Steve Dunn, Associate Editor.
Developing a new recipe for Breakfast
Sausage Patties.
These days I’m up to my elbows in pork, fat, and spices as I work on developing a new recipe for Breakfast Sausage Patties for the Cook’s Illustrated May/June 2021 issue. I’m testing using preground pork, grinding my own, and blitzing the meat with a food processor to see which method delivers the best texture. From there I’ll work on finding a spice flavor profile that we all like.
@julie_jonesuk is an amazing London-based baker!
When working on developing my recent Rhubarb Upside Down Cake, a coworker turned me onto to @julie_jonesuk. She makes stunningly beautiful cakes, pies, and tarts. I enjoy perusing her feed for design inspiration.
Thank you for reading the Cook's Insider, your weekly newsletter from the Cook's Illustrated team. See you next week!
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