In 1947 General Foods published a small cookbook titled “Learn to Bake…”. This easy basic yellow cake recipe is one of the best recipes in the book. The cake tastes a lot like a certain commercial snack cake, the one that begins with T and has a cream filling. This recipe is one of the “Mix-Easy” recipes General Foods developed during the 1940s. The difference between the “old” way and this new one according to the book is “It’s “Mix-Easy” because it puts a cake together in just two short beating steps, saving time, work, and dishes.”
The recipe will make a layer or a sheet cake. The half recipe makes a smaller cake that can be baked in a round or square cake pan, loaf pan or cupcake pan. The half recipe works well for pineapple upside down cake or split the cake and fill with whipped cream and fresh berries. You can use the recipe as a coffee cake by baking it with a cinnamon crumb or chopped fresh fruit and crumb topping. With this one basic recipe and your imagination you can create an almost endless variety of cake based desserts.
- 2 ½ cups of all purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 ½ cups of sugar
- ½ cup butter or shortening
- ¾ cup milk if you use butter, 1 cup if you use shortening
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
Preparations. Have shortening at room temperature. Line bottoms of pans with paper, grease. Use two round 9 inch layer pans, 1 ½ inch deep or a 13x9x2 inch pan. Heat oven for moderate heat (375 degrees F.). Sift the flour once before measuring.
Step 1. Stir the shortening or butter in a mixing bowl just to soften. Sift in the dry ingredients. Add about ¼ cup of the milk and mix until the dry ingredients are dampened. Then beat 2 minutes or 300 strokes.
Step 2. Add the eggs and remaining milk, beat 1 minute longer or 150 strokes. (Mix by hand or at low-speed of electric mixer. Take time out to rest as necessary and scrape bowl and spoon often.)
Baking. Turn batter into the pan. Bake in moderate oven (375 degrees F.) about 25 minutes for layers, 30 minutes for oblong (sheet) cakes.
Small Happy Day Cake
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 2/2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¾ cup of sugar
- 4 tablespoons of butter or shortening
- ½ cup minus 1 tablespoon milk with butter, ½ cup with vegetable shortening
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg
Follow the directions for the full size recipe.
Baking; Heat oven to 375 degrees F.. 25 minutes for a 9 inch layer, 30 minutes for a square pan. For a loaf or cupcakes adjust the recipe decreasing the baking powder to 1 ¼ teaspoons, sugar to 2/3 cup, and using 1 tablespoon less milk.
Butter and flour the pans as you would with any cake recipe. Or spray with pan release.
Test the center of the cake to see if it is done instead of relying completely on a timer.
Use a spoon to measure flour into measuring cup and fluff the flour in the bag before measuring. I don’t sift the flour together with the dry ingredients; instead I measure the dry ingredients into a bowl and blend with a fork.
Lemon cake; flavor with 2 teaspoons of grated lemon zest adding it with the shortening. Frost the layers with lemon or orange frosting. This is for a full size recipe.
Spice cake; add ½ teaspoon cloves and ¼ teaspoon allspice to the flour. Add 1 tablespoon molasses to the shortening. This is for a full size recipe. (I add more spice and use brown sugar instead of adding molasses.)
Pineapple upside down cake; melt ½ cup butter in the bottom of a round 9 inch cake pan. Add ¼ cup of brown sugar. Spread a drained can of crushed pineapple over the sugar and butter. Pour in the cake batter. Bake until it tests done. Or you can use rings of pineapple with maraschino cherries in the center and between. Invert the cake on a cake plate to serve.
Boston cream pie; split the small recipe layer cake, cover the top of the bottom slice with a thick layer of vanilla pudding, place the top slice of the cake on the pudding and frost the top of it with canned or homemade chocolate icing.
Berry cake; split the small recipe layer cake, cover the top of the bottom slice with whipped cream and berries, place the top slice of the cake on top of the whipped cream and berries and cover the top of it with whipped cream and garnish with whole berries.