There are some recipes that look fairly ordinary and unassuming on the surface, but, upon closer inspection, and sometimes only after making it oneself, does one discover its true beauty. Its specialness.
Every cake is special.
(To be sung to the tune of “Every Sperm is Sacred” No! j/k, Haha!)
There are a couple of things I really like about this cake. Let me just cut to the chase.
For one, it really smells good!! During and after baking. It reminds me of the buttery smell that permeates a home or apartment only after baking a gazillion shortbread cookies.
Second, it takes about 50 minutes to bake, yet doesn’t get burned on the outside, but rather gets nice and toasty with a distinct caramel-y color on the sides and bottom of the cake.
Because of the high amount of milk products, which adds milk proteins and milk sugars to interact with each other in this recipe), the Maillard Reaction is partly to thank for the smell and look of the cake.
Thirdly, It’s a cake, but sort of dense and smooth at the same time on the inside, with a great slightly sweet/tangy flavor combo, and slightly crunchy and crispy on the outside. It’s sort of a cross between a butter cake and a blondie.
I think that partly what caused the intense butter flavor and aroma, also had to do with the type of butter I used: Organic Valley’s Cultured and Organic Unsalted Butter, which I honestly did not even know existed, even after I bought it. I was in a hurry and at a health food store, and so I just thought it was regular butter at a “health food store” price! Glad that I bought it.
Apparently, “a culture” is added to the butter…to ripen it? (Bacterial culture similar to yogurt and buttermilk?) I don’t know. I only bothered looking at the label, noticing the word “cultured”, when I started to smell that strong butter smell soon after putting it in the oven that only intensified as time went on. (And my sense of smell usually sucks, so I knew there was something different about this butter!)
Anyways, I hope you make this cake. I wasn’t expecting to like it so much! Enjoy!
mixed berry sour cream cake (adapted slightly from Cake, Crumbs, and Cooking)
130 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
150 grams granulated sugar
175 grams self-rising flour (I didn’t have self-rising flour, so I substituted: 1 cup + 1 Tablespoon All-Purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt, sifted together and whisked in a bowl before using. This weighed 175 grams.)
100 grams sour cream
2 eggs, room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
210 grams mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, marionberries, blackberries), frozen
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and line with parchment paper with sides that hang over the sides, 8-inch by 8-inch square baking tin. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale, then add the eggs, separately, followed by 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract, scrape down sides as needed.
Get sour cream at room temperature by heating at intervals in the microwave. Do not get too hot. Just room temperature.
Alternating between flour mixture and sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, blend each addition before adding next addition. Lastly sprinkle berries over the top.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes, until slightly browned and when a toothpick comes out clean after sticking it in and out from the middle.
Allow to cool slightly then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
-For most baked goods, always get your ingredients at room temperature, unless otherwise indicated. This includes milk products. The microwave is your friend. I usually heat them up using short intervals on high, making sure to check that it doesn’t get too hot. With eggs, I usually let them sit in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes.
-If a recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of vanilla, I usually round up to 1 Tablespoon. I’ve never noticed any bad qualities by adding that extra teaspoon, but I do notice great vanilla flavor. Don’t follow this if you are not a fan of vanilla, or if a recipe specifically states that it needs to be the exact amount of vanilla extract. Also, stay away from imitation vanilla.
-Measure your ingredients accurately. Weighing them, if possible. I’m not a stickler on this, because I have figured out how to properly measure ingredients in volume, but definitely weighing if a recipe indicates weighed amounts rather than volume measurements. a scale is your friend; a really good friend, if it has ounce and gram options.
-Make sure your oven temperatures are accurate, or adapt to the discrepancy by knowing how off it is from the proper temperature. My oven bakes warm and is about 50 degrees off, so I usually set it at 300 when I want 350 degrees, and adjust it accordingly for other temperatures.
-If a recipe states to scrape down sides of the bowl, do so. If a recipe calls for beating egg whites with extremely clean bowls and utensils, and to beat until stiff peaks, do so, and know what that means. In short, follow the directions as close as you can.
-Read recipe through for surprises. So that you have a clear idea on what to do and what to expect.