We had a tornado drill the other day at work, since it is getting to be that time of year. And even though
The best cake ever is the Sunshine Cake that my Grandma made for just about every special occasion. (It is actually great-grandma’s recipe.)
One of the best things that Grandma ever did was to put together three little booklets of all of the favorite family recipes for all of the grandchildren. I make those recipes all of the time.
Yesterday I made (on request) the Sunshine Cake to take as my contribution to a Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws.
Without further ado, the recipe:
Preheat the oven to 350.
The prep work on this cake takes the most time. Separate all of the eggs, putting the whites and yolks into separate bowls. Make sure that the whites are in a very large, high sided mixing bowl so they don’t splatter all over the place when you beat them. Sift 1 cup of sugar twice. Sift the cake flour and 1/2 cup of the sugar 3 times. Beat the egg yolks until thick and creamy.
Wait until the oven is completely pre-heated before starting the beat the whites… once you start that, everything goes very quickly.
Beat the egg whites until frothy. Beat in the cream of tarter and salt. Contimue to beat the egg whites until they are glossy and fine grained and will stand up in a sharp point when you pull out the beater. (With an electric mixer, this doesn’t take very long. I can’t imagine how long it must have taken to beat it to that point by hand. I asked Grandma about it once, and her reply was “that’s what children are for”. My Dad can remember endlessly beating the eggs for this cake when he was little.) Gradually beat in the cup of sugar that you sifted twice, along with the vanilla. Gently fold in the egg yolks. (Gently! Don’t mix! You want to preserve all of that air that you just whipped into those whites!) Gently fold in the flour and sugar mixture.
Pour into a two-piece un-greased ring pan. (It needs to be un-greased so that the batter can stick to the sides and not fall, but this makes it really difficult to get out of the pan afterwards.)
Bake for an hour. Resist the urge to open the oven to peek during that time, no matter how good it smells (and it smells good!) or the cake might fall.
Invert the pan to cool. I usually slide the ring over the neck of a wine bottle for this.
Cut the cake out of the pan once it is completely cold. This is the hardest part, and I never manage to get the cake out without mangling it at least a little bit. One of these days I will try cutting some parchement paper to shape, lining the ring pan with it, and see if the cake will still bake like that, and if the paper lining makes it any easier to get the cake out of the pan in one piece and looking nice.
When Grandma made the cake, it always looked beautiful, like she just gently slid it out of the pan. I don’t know how she did it…. other than about 60+ years of practice. I am nowhere near there yet.
Sift confectioners sugar over the cake before serving it.
Confectioners sugar hides a lot of flaws.