You know that this has got to be special. I have taken out the useless hand mixer that we only use for whipped cream and such light fare. My lips are beginning to pout… “This is not anything like the fancy Kitchen Aid Artisan standing mixer than my Ma uses,” I say out loud. “Which respectable baker even uses these?” Then I remember why I have decided to go through the hassle of taking 30 mins to do a 10 minute job (with the right tools). March is a special month for me. Some of my nearest and dearest were born in March. Happy birthday to my big brother Sean, who taught me not to be afraid of boys and always has my back, my best-friend-since-I-was-11 Talia, who understands me more than I care to admit, Robert, my bonafide original best male friend who taught me how prevent and cure a hangover, and Kathi Marie, who has shown me that hot, nice, smart girls should not feel devalued by a little kitchen domestication. Her influence is the seed for so many good things in my life, part of which manifests in this blog.
Indeed, Kathi taught me how to bake and groomed me for marriage, and is the silent baking and culinary consultant behind Chef and Steward. What better way to celebrate the birthdays of people who have played fundamental roles in my life, than to bake the iconic foundation cake… 1-2-3-4 cake from scratch.
Here is why it is called 1-2-3-4 …
Ingredients: 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 4 egg, 3tsp baking powder, 1 cup milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar until crystals are no longer there. You may heat the sugar for about 1 minute in the microwave before adding it to the butter, particularly if the crystals are big. This will help to speed up the creaming process.
Add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth. You will want to break the eggs in a separate bowl and not directly over the batter because many people have had to throw away batter due to one bag egg!
Measure then sift flour and baking powder together…
Add to batter in half cup increments…
Beat at lowest speed until combined and smooth
Add a little of the milk and beat slowly again until smooth. Repeat with flour then milk,
beat. Add the remainder of the flour then beat.
Add 1tsp of good vanilla extract. If yours is not good, you may have to add another 3/4-tsp. Fold in the mixture with a spatula.
Pour batter into 2 (or three if making a three-layer cake) floured pans and hold each pan about 3-4 inches over counter and drop so that the batter is even and to get rid of extra air.
Bake for 20-35 mins depending on your oven. You may also use as a cupcake recipe, but bake them for 15 mins.
Fresh Blueberry Compote:
Ingredients: 30g fresh blueberries, 1 tsp sugar, lemon zest.
Make a sugar syrup with 1 tsp sugar and 2 tbsp water over low heat and then add berries. I used less sugar because this recipe makes a really sweet cake and the berries were already sweet on their own. Keep stirring constantly Yes… I was cutting a few corners but do as I say, not as I do. This is for one or two small servings, you may increase as you like.
Grate some lemon zest on your Microplane zester and brush off into the pot and keep on stirring (I just shake the handle of the saucepan to stir so as to preserve the shape of the berries). You may have to take off from heat from time to time. Remove from heat when it becomes thicker.
See that compote? Lovely! Fit for princesses and princes…
CHEF’S NOTE: This makes a very sweet cake. A little too sweet for our liking, but we wanted to stick to the rules before we encouraged you to break them. So here it is… break the rules. Instead of 2 cups sugar, use 1 1/2 or 1 3/4 cup. You wont miss the sugar and you will still enjoy.