It’s amazing how much my baking has evolved over the years. Neither of my parents were all that into baking, aside from homemade teething cookies when I was a baby and the occasional batch of muffins, so most of what I do is self-taught. When I first started baking at around the age of 5, I was just learning how to read. I could usually decipher the list of ingredients but the directions down below were more intimidating. I guess that’s why my strategy was to just mix everything together.
I cringe at remembering how I used to make cookies. I would stir together all the dry ingredients (including sugar), “cut in” the cold butter, and then stir in eggs, vanilla, and whatever else the recipe called for. There was absolutely no creaming of the butter and sugar; no making sure that all the ingredients were at room-temperature so everything would bind, spread, and rise correctly; absolutely no regard for the fact that over-mixing flour breaks down gluten and makes baked goods tough. Somehow they still turned out tasty more often that not, but sometimes my cookies were either over-baked little rock mounds or flat, greasy pancake cookies.
One day my aunt and uncle came to visit when I was about six, and I decided to make brownies for them. Unfortunately, the recipe used chocolate chips for the chocolate component, which needed to be melted first (as any fool might guess!). Of course this step happened to be mentioned in the instructions, and following my usual pattern of simply reading off the ingredients I just stirred the chocolate chips in with everything else. Let’s just say those brownies were on the crumbly side and had a lot, like A LOT of chocolate chips! Luckily my sweet six-year-old face saved me and everyone smiled and said they were delicious.
For a few years I went through a cake-baking stage. I loved coming up with any possible excuse to bake a cake, whether it was the birthday of a teacher or an overlooked holiday or just because I felt like it. I had so much fun coming up with different combinations of cake and frosting and practicing my decorating skills. The only problem (aside from the fact that baking a 2-layer cake on a whim for a four-person family leaves a LOT of leftovers) was that I almost exclusively used boxed mixes and canned frosting. Cheap, shameful, chemical-ridden, artery-clogging, blood-sugar-spiking, can’t-even-call-it-food cake mix and canned frosting. No offense though, if you happen to be a fan.
In all honesty, I see nothing wrong with baking from a prepared mix or using processed frosting now and then, especially in a time crunch, but now that I’ve become a baking snob I like to make as much as I can from scratch. That way I know what goes into what I’m making and there’s nothing in there that I can’t pronounce (with a few exceptions…xanthan gum?) Haha. My point is that if it’s at all possible, homemade is almost always better. As good as boxed cakes taste, I find that homemade ones taste even better, AND they’re better for you. Minus all the sugar, fat, and white flour. Ahem.
One of my favorite types of cakes is funfetti. I had always made it from a box until now. This recipe for homemade funfetti cake tastes just as delicious as the real thing….actually even more so! It’s full of sweet sprinkles, has a moist crumb, and is packed with vanilla flavor that comes from actual vanilla, none of that artificial junk. The recipe yields just one 9-inch cake, which I find to be perfect for small gatherings or feeding a small family, but if you’d prefer a 2-layer cake just double the recipe. Easy peasy. Paired with milk chocolate frosting this cake offered a wonderful combination of chocolate and vanilla, but frost it with whatever you like. Just not frosting from a plastic container ;).
The next time you’re about to reach for a boxed cake mix, stop! This cake is made with everyday ingredients and is still extremely fast and easy…you don’t even have to break out an electric mixer! It tastes even better than boxed cake since it’s made with butter rather than oil, yogurt for moisture, and pure vanilla, and will be sure to please any and all funfetti-lovers. The milk chocolate frosting is smooth, chocolatey, and not too sweet….the perfect accompaniment.
Even my six-year-old baking self could bake this delicious cake, since you basically just stir everything together. The whole process is really a piece of cake. Sorry, but did you really think I could write an entire cake-related post without using at least one cake cliche? I mean, really. 🙂
Vanilla Funfetti Cake
1 & 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, slightly packed
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbs pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup multicolored sprinkles (about 2 small containers’ worth)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9″ round cake pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in the egg, milk, yogurt, and vanilla until well-combined. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, stirring until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the sprinkles, mixing just until incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool in its pan for 20 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Cool the cake completely before frosting.
(Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)
Milk Chocolate Frosting
Yield: enough frosting for one 9-inch round cake (double the recipe to frost a 2-layer cake)
1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter, softened to room temperature
1-2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbs heavy cream or milk
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until it’s smooth and creamy. Add in 1 cup of powdered sugar and mix until combined. Add in the cocoa powder, vanilla, and cream, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you mix. Gradually add in additional powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. If the frosting gets too thick, add in a little extra cream or milk.
Beat the frosting for 2-3 minutes or until fluffy. Spread onto cake, cupcakes, or cookies.