One of the things i look forward to most on our annual trip to Bangkok is getting my greedy hands on S&P butter cakes. S&P, for the unintiated, is a chain of restaurants and bakeries in Thailand. While they do serve really good Thai food, the butter cakes always have us scrambling to the bakery corner and snapping up slices of their unadorned butter cake. Of course, no matter how many we buy, we always end up having to make another trip to the store to stock up on the butter cake slices. All this within our usual five day stay in Thailand, i might add.
While I make butter cakes fairly regularly, I tend to lean towards several variations of this simple, modest cake, often dressing them up with frosting of some sort. So when I came across this recipe for a white butter cake, i was more than happy to give it a shot and kill two birds with one stone- use up the couple of egg whites i had leftover after churning a batch of vanilla ice cream (so good with hot chocolate fudge!) and having freshly baked unadorned butter cake slices for tea.
There were two things about the recipe that struck me as being really different from the usual butter cake recipes- firstly, the recipe used only egg whites and no yolks at all and also the recipe called for a rather long beating time, supposedly to aerate the batter. Suppressing my baking instinct (and it wasn’t easy, trust me) that was screaming I was gonna end up with a fallen cake from overbeating the batter, i took a leap of faith and did exactly as instructed.
As it turns out, i was duly rewarded- with a light gorgeous butter cake with a smooth, velvety crumb. While the cake was still surprisingly rich in spite of the omission of egg yolks, it was certainly less rich than your typical butter cake. You could barely even tell the cake was made solely with egg whites aside from its slightly pale hue.
The cake, a little on the sweet side, went perfectly with a cup of black tea. I polished two slices off rather easily.
While i’m raving about the cake, can i just say how much I adore the book the recipe’s from. It was a very belated birthday gift from my little sister- and a very nifty way of getting round my self imposed Amazon ban, i might add :)
I love how the author has both metric and volume measurements included in the recipe and explains why she calls for certain steps- kind of like a condensed and modern version of the Cake Bible. I’m just dying to make everything from it, especially after the success of this butter cake.
Excuse me now while i go make custards and churn buckets of ice cream to stock up on egg whites.
White Butter Cake [Taken from Flo Braker's The Simple Art of Perfect Baking]
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
150g egg whites, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk, at room temperature
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups + 1 tsp castor sugar
- Preheat oven at 175C. Grease and flour two 8″ springform pans*. Line the bottoms of the pan with baking paper and set aside.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. Cream butter using an electric mixer till it’s light and fluffy. Add 1 1/2 cups of sugar in gradually, beating on medium speed till mixture is almost white and really fluffy. Lightly whisk 60g of the egg whites and pour gradually into the batter. When mixture looks like whipped cream cheese and has increased in volume, remove mixing bowl from the electric mixer.
- In a separate bowl, beat remaining egg whites till frothy. Add in sugar gradually and beat till stiff, shiny peaks form. Fold egg whites into cake batter in two batches.
- Divide cake batter equally between the prepared pans, using a spatula to smoothen the batter. Bake the cakes at the lower third of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes till the top of the cake springs back lightly when pressed with a fingertip. Serves 12
*I used an 12″ by 5″ loaf pan and a 7″ round pan; perfect for the amount of batter the recipe makes