Serves: 8 to 10
Baking Time: 25 to 35 minutes
This unusual old-time recipe was sent to me by chef Anthony Stella, a restaurateur in Delaware, who asked if I could perform a makeover on it. What intrigued both of us about the recipe was that at first glace it seemed to contain no butter or oil. But on closer analysis, I discovered that the butterfat contained in the cream was more than equal to the usual amount of butter added. My makeover involved a nip and tuck, decreasing the sugar and baking powder and increasing the salt to compensate for the saltiness previously provided by a higher amount of baking powder. I also increased the overall yield by one and a half times and baked the cake in a fluted tube pan to give it an attractive appearance and more center support. The result is a perfectly even and exceptionally moist and tender cake.
2¼ cups of cake flour (or bleached all-purpose flour) sifted into the cup and leveled off
2 teaspoons of baking powder
¾ teaspoon of salt
1½ cups of heavy cream, cold
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar
Special Equipment One: 10-cup fluted metal tube pan, coated with baking spray with flour
Preheat the Oven: Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C (350°F/175°C if using a dark pan).
Mix the Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt and then sift them together to make the mixture easier to incorporate.
Mix the Liquid Ingredients: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, whip the cream, starting on low speed, gradually raising the speed to medium-high as it thickens, until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla just until lightly combined.
On medium-high speed, gradually beat the egg mixture into the whipped cream. The mixture will thicken into mayonnaise consistency (unless high-butterfat cream is used).
Gradually beat in the sugar. It should take about 30 seconds to incorporate it.
Make the Batter: Add half the flour mixture to the cream mixture and, with a large silicone spatula, stir and fold in the flour until most of it disappears. Add the rest of the flour mixture and continue folding and mixing until all traces of flour have disappeared. Using a silicone spatula or spoon, scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Run a small metal spatula or dull knife blade through the batter to prevent large air bubbles, avoiding the bottom of the pan. Smooth the surface evenly with a small metal spatula.
Bake the Cake: Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted between the tube and the side comes out completely clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.
Cool and Unmold the Cake: Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. With a small metal spatula, loosen the top edges of the cake and invert the cake onto a wire rack that has been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Cool completely. The cake requires no adornment, but I love to serve it with a large dollop of lightly sweetened Whipped Cream.
Notes: Do not chill the bowl and beaters for the heavy cream because the eggs will not
emulsify as readily if the whipped cream is too cold.
High-butterfat (40 percent) heavy cream produces a finer, more tender crumb. This cream is generally available only to bakeries and restaurants, but it is certainly worth asking your local baker to sell you a container.