Sunday, 21 March 2010

My Grandma's Special White Cake

My Grandma’s name was Ruby Sybil Wilde, and she was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, which is very close to the Welsh border. Her mother brought her to Canada when she was a little girl where she grew up and eventually met and married my Grandpa. They had two daughters, one of whom was my Mom. Grandpa was the Reeve (Mayor) of the town they lived in for over thirty years, so Grandma used to do lots of entertaining and people always talked about what an amazing cook she was. Sadly I never got to meet her as she died in her early sixties, four years before I was born. (If you want to read a bit more about her slightly mysterious story, you can click here.)

I don’t know why Grandma called this ‘Special’ White Cake but it may have been because it tastes amazing. It’s a lovely light cake that you can eat frosted or unfrosted, and as the original recipe calls for ‘2 teaspoons vanilla or other’ you can flavour it pretty much how you like. Next time I might try using almond flavouring. As Grandma wrote on the recipe card (you can just see it at the bottom of the photo), this is “a good size cake with some body to it”. You could use just about any flavour frosting, from something seriously chocolatey to something light and lemony. I think it would be nice served with fruit too. On this, my first attempt with it, I‘m going to just sprinkle confectioner’s sugar over the top to make it look pretty and to emphasise the vanilla flavour.

I did fiddle about with the method a bit because I was using an electric mixer so I didn’t feel I needed to separate the eggs and add the whites separately as they used to do back in the days before electric mixers were common. I also misread the recipe and added a cup of milk instead of the ½ cup Grandma called for but I didn’t realise until after it was in the oven. It all turned out beautifully anyway. Plus it uses store cupboard ingredients and takes about ten minutes to throw together. I baked this in a 9 inch square pan, but I’m sure you could use the mixture for cupcakes if you preferred - just don’t bake them as long. I can’t wait to experiment with this recipe; it’s got so much potential! Thanks Grandma!

Ruby Sybil Wilde’s “Special” White Cake

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla (or another flavouring of your choice)
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk (recipe originally called for ½ cup but 1 cup worked nicely)

Cream the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs. Add the vanilla.

Sift the flour and baking powder together, and add alternately with the milk, beating after each addition.

Bake in a greased and floured (or lined) nine inch square pan at 350℉ or 160 to 170℃. Be careful, the cake tends to brown very quickly and ideally you want it to be fairly pale. Mine took about thirty minutes to cook, but I did lower the heat to 150℃ (about 325℉) for the last five minutes. I would suggest setting the timer for fifteen to twenty minutes and then keeping an eye on it after that, depending on how fierce your oven is.

Frost if you like, or sprinkle with some confectioner’s sugar. As you can see, it does want some sort of adornment as it really isn’t all that pretty, but it smells and tastes so good I’m struggling not to just eat it plain, straight from the tin!

In the end, I served this cake sprinkled with icing sugar with a bit of good vanilla ice cream on the side, and it tasted amazing.

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