Thursday, September 20, 2012

Damp Yellow Cake

This is the cake that won me a blue ribbon at the Frederik Fair!

It is based on Shirley Corriher's Magnificent Moist Golden Cake from BakeWise. That cake is designed to fill a 9 by 2-inch round pan, but each time I made it, the pan overflowed. I divided the batter into two pans, but I felt the cake wasn't tall enough, so I scaled the recipe 150% and baked it in three 9-inch pans. The fair only allowed two layers, so I baked the scaled recipe in two 9-inch pans, and it still worked.

I've included the weights and baking times for both two and three layers.

I started by preheating the oven to 350 degrees, spraying the pans with oil and flour spray, and lining them with parchment. The parchment is optional , but makes it easier to get the cakes out of the pan.

I measured 2¼ cups or 15¾ ounces into a mixing bowl. This cake can be made in a mixer or by hand. I boiled water in the microwave, and measured ½ cup water onto the sugar.

I stirred on low speed. There's too much sugar to dissolve completely, but stirring gets the crystals evenly wet.

Next I added 6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter cut into chunks, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ cup vegetable oil.

I mixed on low speed again, but just to break up the butter.

In a separate bowl, I measured 10½ ounces cake flour, which is 2⅓ cups if you spoon the flour into the cup and then level it, and 2½ teaspoons baking powder, and whisked to combine them.

I added the flour mixture to the batter in thirds, mixing after each addition. You shouldn't add the flour all at once because you're creating a suspension of flour and water. Larger clumps of flour oils need more mixing to become suspended, and more mixing agitates the proteins in the flour and toughens the cake. (Please note that this is just a hypothesis.)

Now I add 4 egg yolks and 3 eggs, one at a time. The egg yolks contain lecithin, which emulsifies and stabilize the batter; going slowly helps here also.

Finally I fold in ¾ cup heavy cream which I've whipped in a separate bowl. I use an manual egg beater to whip the cream.

This isn't as delicate as a soufflé, so keep folding until you don't see streaks.

Next you portion the batter. The batter weighs 3 pounds total, so you want 1 pound of batter in each of three pans, or 1½ pounds batter in each of two pans. It is easiest to evenly portion the batter using a scale, but you can approximate pretty well without one.

I bake all the pans at the same time. My oven has hot spots, so I should have rotated the position and location of pans. In other words, spin the pans around and shuffle them into another part of the oven.

This is an unusual batter. Most cakes and muffins I can test for doneness by touching the top. That doesn't work for this cake. The best way to check if they're done is to jiggle the pans; the cake is done once the batter is set and moves very little.

In my oven, the thinner cakes were done at 23 minutes, and the thicker at 27 minutes. As every oven is different, you should check on the pans at 18 minutes for the thinner cakes and 23 minutes for the thicker cakes.

Cool 10 minutes in the pans on the rack, then turn out to finish cooling completely.

Damp Yellow Cake

Serves 10-18


  • 10 1/2 ounces cake flour or 2⅓ cups measured by spooning and leveling
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 15 3/4 ounces sugar or 2¼ cups
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter cut in 1 tbsp pieces
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two or three 9 by 2-inch round pans with flour-added baking spray and line bottoms with rounds of parchment.

Thoroughly mix flour and baking powder in a bowl and set side.

In a small bowl, whip the cream just beyond soft peaks.

Put the sugar in the mixer bowl. Heat the water to in the microwave. Add it to the sugar and stir a few seconds to dissolve the sugar, then add the butter, vanilla, oil, and salt, and mix on medium to blend. Sprinkle about 1/3 of the flour mixture over the sugar mixture. Mix on lowest speed until incorporated. Continue adding the flour until all is incorporated. Then stir in the egg yolks one at a time, and then stir in the whole eggs one at a time.

Fold a little of the whipped cream into the batter to lighten, then fold in the rest.

Pour the batter into pans: 1 lb 8 ounces ounces batter in two pans or 1 lb batter in three pans. Drop the pans onto the counter a few times to get out any bubbles. Bake for about 23-27 minutes, or until cake no longer jiggles.

Cool completely on wire racks.


  1. Hi ,
    Could you please let me know if this measurement of ingredients enought for a 2 layer 9 x 13 cake?

    1. This recipe makes 1 thick 9 x 13 layer.

  2. Is the melting sugar a standard cake technique? Is it in Corriher's original recipe

    1. The dissolved sugar is in the original recipe. It's certainly not a standard technique—I've never seen it elsewhere, and I've read a LOT of cake recipes. But Shirley Corriher implies that she did not originate the method. In BakeWise, she gives three methods for the same cake, but prefers the dissolved sugar recipe because it's the most error-proof.