These are things I’m willing to get to the bottom of

23 Feb

Ten points to you if you got the movie reference.  You win the internets.  Let’s talk cake, because…why the fuck wouldn’t we?!

For an intelligent person who has eaten at least quadruple their fair share of cake, I am pretty confused about some things cake-related.

I keep seeing American recipes for “White Cake”, but I have always wondered how they differ from Yellow Cake, Pound Cake, etc  I read a comment online where someone said they couldn’t make a White Cake, so they made a Vanilla Cake – how different can they be?  I wondered what makes a White Cake white and a Yellow Cake yellow, (besides the quite obvious ‘colour’ thing) and why a Vanilla Cake isn’t either one of those, either.

So here goes.  According to the interwebs:

  • Yellow Cake:  Is yellow because it contains just the yolks of eggs, butter and wholemeal flour (i.e. slightly coloured).  It has more flavour on its own.
  • White Cake: Is white because it contains the whites of the eggs only, shortening and plain flour (i.e. white).  It is more bland, so tends to go better with more flavourful frosting/additions.
  • Vanilla Cake:  Is a combination of the two; uses the both the yolk and the whites of the eggs, butter and white flour (either self-raising or plain).  Pretty much equivalent to a Butter Cake, which I would say is the most “typical” kind of cake in Australia if you’re not making a sponge or chocolate cake.
  • Pound Cake:  It’s made with a pound each (or the same ratio, but in smaller quantities) of flour, butter, eggs and sugar.  Feels and tastes like a brick.  Basically equivalent to a Madeira Cake.
  • We all know what Sponge Cake is.

(Of course flavouring, sugar and milk etc would be added as necessary to the above ingredients, but I’m focussing on what contributes to the colour of the actual cake).

Ok, it’s not so hard so far, except I also see a lot of White Cake recipes that use butter instead of shortening (SPOILER ALERT: butter is yellow, so who the hell knows how that makes sense).  Australian butter is fairly yellow so I’m anticipating being fairly disappointed with the lack of whiteness, but we’ll see what happens.

I wanted to give it a crack because fluffy white cake with fluffy white frosting is basically my dream cake, so I’m on the search for a good recipe.  I’ve found this one on, and this one on and I am going to try one of them out (not yet sure which one).  I have a new frosting that I want to try, too.  Prepare to be underwhelmed.


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