Monday, January 28, 2013

French Vanilla Sheet Cake

I think the standard "go-to" flavour in the sweet kitchen will always be vanilla. It's not necessarily the "darling child" of the bake-shoppe, especially in today's realm of fancy, gourmet cupcakes, macarons and doughnuts! I'll admit, given the choice between a French vanilla cupcake and a devil's food, I'm hitting the chocolate hard.

French VanillaBut the fact remains that vanilla is still a relatively safe option to feed a crowd, especially a mixture of tastes, ages and backgrounds. For the longest time my picky sister would only eat vanilla cake (now it's only boxed chocolate!), and both my "likes almost anything" father and my super-scrutinizing stepfamily cite French vanilla as their favourite flavour. So it was only fitting that when it came to making one of the three birthday cakes I did back in October, one of them had to be a fabulous French vanilla.

Now I've made vanilla cake before. Several times. But like the carrot cake(s) I do, every one has something slightly different to make them new and special each time. With this sheet cake, especially since I was making it for a crowd with at least one French vanilla lover, I really played with the concept. French vanilla pudding mix added flavour and a lovely soft texture, dried egg powder added the custardy richness I'm used to in FV ice cream, and buttermilk made the crumb moist as well as lent a nice tang that took away from some of the vanilla sugar and honey's cloying sweetness. Even though I'm not a huge vanilla fan, I wouldn't pass up a slice of this - especially when it was topped with the cream cheese frosting I made!

This is so delicious and simple that I'm sharing it with Mom's Test Meal Mondays this week.

French Vanilla Sheet Cake
Spongey CrumbServes 16
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp dried egg powder
1 (4-serving size) French vanilla instant pudding mix
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
pinch nutmeg
2/3 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (butter would hinder the vanilla flavour)
1 cup vanilla sugar (make your own!)
2 tbsp honey
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9x13" pan with parchment.
  2. Whisk together the flours, egg powder, pudding mix, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the shortening, sugar and honey.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well.
  5. Beat in flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  6. Spread in the prepared pan and rap sharply on the counter to release air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 33-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. Cool completely in the pan.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 242.4
Total Fat: 9.2 g
Cholesterol: 35.4 mg
Sodium: 119.1 mg
Total Carbs: 36.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.2 g
Protein: 3.6 g