Makes 2 9-inch round cakes or 24 cupcakes
This recipe is from "CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch," by Warren Brown; Stewart, Tabori & Chang; $27.50. Warren, who owns CakeLove bakeries in Washington, D.C., mixes liqueurs, spices, dried and fresh fruit, and other unusual ingredients for his brand of cake.
Potato starch is Brown's secret ingredient. It's available in specialty baking or ethnic food aisles in the grocery store. Cocoa powder can be substituted for the potato starch in this recipe, yielding chocolate butter cake.
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1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour (7 ounces)
2 ounces potato starch
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1½ sticks unsalted butter (6 ounces)
1¾ cups extra-fine granulated sugar (14 ounces)
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour into a bowl on a measuring scale. Measure dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, add flour and whisk for 10 seconds to blend. Set aside. Measure half-and-half, brandy and vanilla into a separate bowl and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar in a bowl on the lowest speed of a standing mixture for three to five minutes. Add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Stop mixer and scrape sides.
Add dry ingredient mixture alternately with the liquid mixture in three or five additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. This step should take a total of about 60 seconds.
Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Mix on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds.
Line bottoms of 9-inch pans with parchment paper; do not spray sides. Fill pans two-thirds full. Bake 28 minutes or until center is evenly blond, edges pull away from pan and a toothpick inserted in the cake's center shows just a touch of crumbs.
Cool cake 25 to 30 minutes, loosen sides with an offset spatula and frost.