Whipping Cream Cake

“Plain Cake” seems to be a very uninspired title for something as wonderful as this. But, a cake that you eat happily unadorned is rare. This cake, with perhaps the lightest sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar is a simple joy. I suppose this is technically a member of the pound cake family. The original recipe recommends a tube pan. But I have a habit of taking tall and regal cakes and throwing them into a sheet pan or a 9” x 13” pan to bring them back down to earth. A cake need not always be an “affair.” It need not always be a blue ribbon show pig. Sometimes you just want some cake.

This cake is easy. It uses simple ingredients. It is well behaved. The thing that I love most about it is that, when baked, it has a wonderful crisp but airy topping. I wouldn’t turn it out and mess with that for anything. This is a “serve from the pan” cake. Take it to work, take it to a pot-luck, or keep it for yourself and sneakily reduce it sliver by sliver over the course of the day.

I found this recipe in The Junior League of Abilene’s The Best Little Cookbook in Texas. I have come across it in several other Junior League cookbooks, but this is the version that I like most.


Whipping Cream Cake
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Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour (sift first, then measure)
  • 1 cup of heavy cream or “heavy whipping cream” (not whipped)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar for approximately 3 minutes.
  2. Crack the eggs into a container with a spout, such as a glass measuring cup. Gently whisk the eggs. Slowly, very slowly, in a tiny stream, begin to add the eggs. This method allows you to incorporate the eggs thoroughly as you go. If you add too much at one time, the batter can “break” and look a bit cottage-cheese-ish.
  3. Once the eggs are incorporated, add the vanilla and lemon extracts. Slow the mixer and add the flour and whipping cream alternately, beginning and ending with the flour, until it is all incorporated and the batter is smooth.
  4. Pour the batter into a well greased 9” x 13” baking pan and smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Check the cake with a toothpick at this point. When the cake is done, a toothpick will come out clean or crumby, and the top of the cake will be golden and cracking. You will likely need to bake it 5 to 7 additional minutes. But, you do not want to over-bake this cake. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool.

Note: If you choose to use a tube pan, make sure it is greased thoroughly and bake for approximately 1 hour.

If you are curious about the differences between types of heavy creams and whipping creams, Cooks Illustrated online has a good description of the merits and drawbacks of each. I don’t pay for a lot of online content, but the Cook’s Illustrated site is very useful. Suffice to say that they generally recommend purchasing “heavy cream” not “whipping cream.” And if given the option, choose “pasteurized” over “ultra-pasteurized.” Although, rest assured I’ve used all of the heavy types of cream for this cake and it has turned out fine every time. And, on my last trip to the grocery store, ultra-pasteurized was the only option. But, it is something to consider.

The process of creaming butter for this cake is a little strange. This is a very low ratio of butter to sugar. A lot of fat is added at the end with the heavy cream. But you are starting with a small amount of butter. It does not really “cream” prior to adding the eggs. As I understand it (and I’d love to hear from any serious bakers in the comments if I am mistaken), the addition of the eggs will cause the mixture to “emulsify” properly so that the necessary air bubbles will get whipped into the batter. After you have added about 3 eggs worth of the whisked eggs, the batter will just magically “come together.” There is so much to learn about butters and sugars and proteins and leavening with baking cakes. But this recipe just works.

Poppy, our Golden, gave it her seal of approval the first time I made it. I was in the driveway helping the kids with bike riding, when Lily went into the house for a drink of water and let the little beast in the back door, unbeknownst to me. I know what the dog does when there are baked goods around so I had put her out back. By the time I made it into the house, Poppy had bellied up to the bar and eaten one side of the cake. She had then gotten down and walked around to the other side of the island, bellied up yet again, and eaten off the other side of the cake, leaving a 3 inch strip of cake down the middle for the rest of us. This might be funny except for the fact that she does it ALL THE TIME. She is fast, and sneaky, and probably developing coronary artery disease. But I kind of love her anyway.

For a traditional pound cake, you might try my Classic Pound Cake, and please don’t miss my Sour Cream Coffee Cake recipe. It is a keeper, too.

 

Comments

  1. Kelly says

    Sandra, I like smearing the pan with butter and then a sprinkling of flour tapped about the pan. If you are using a tube pan, you really do need to be quite meticulous about it. I have gotten away with using non-stick spray in the sheet pan, though. If you are having trouble with sticking, I would go the butter (or Crisco) and flour route though.

  2. Pamela says

    I use ounces and grams to weight my ingredient, so a stick of butter is that 50g.

  3. Joan Wharff says

    This cake looks totally awesome! I could care less about frosting…Give me just Cake!! :-}. And, lemon sounds too Yummy!
    How about a small dollop os whipped cream with a small amount of lemon extract &, a bit of lemon zest on it for a smidge of color &, a few blueberries ? Pretty & Yummy too?
    Gotta try this one Soon!
    Joanie
    Texas

  4. Kelly says

    Hi Bunny. I’m sorry it took me a few days to get to this. I was in Wyoming (yay!!). Yes, it is one stick, not one cup. But you are right. The photo looks like a lot. I guess it is just stacked up in an impressive way. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it.

  5. Bunny says

    The cake looks wonderful and I really want to try it. I just have one question first. Your recipe says one stick of butter but the picture looks more like one cup (2 sticks) of butter. Just wanted to be sure that the one stick is correct. Maybe my eyes are just playing tricks on me! LOL!!

  6. Linda says

    I made this this morning and it not only smells wonderful, but it’s that dense, soft, moist, melt-in-your-mouth cake that is my fave. Thank you for the recipe!!

  7. Sarah says

    Beautiful cake! I actually made it tonight and it was beautiful!! You’re absolutely right about it not needing any adornment!

    PS I came to your blog vis Tastespotting and I love it! :) Glad I found it!

    xox Sarah

  8. Kelly says

    Chandra, I’m so thrilled to hear that it works with Half & Half. That is good to know. I know that feeling of panic on the leavening issue. It is amazing that the eggs can do the job on their own. Thank you for the feedback and for the options. I like that you used the smaller pan and had success. Sometimes you just need a little bit of cake, right. I could use a little bit of cake right now, myself.

  9. Chandra says

    I made this cake and it is awesome! It almost tastes like angelfood cake, so I agree with others that it would be great with berries on top. This is no pound cake, the texture is light and spongy. I subbed half and half since that’s what I had on hand. I almost panicked in the middle of making it because I realized there is not baking powder/soda in it, but never fear! I only made a half recipe in an 8 x 8 pan, but still had to bake for quite a long time to get the golden top. Not sure what it finally added up to, but definitely over 30 minutes. This is going to be my new go-to morning coffee cake.

  10. Juli says

    Kelly, I love this recipe. My MIL is coming for a week’s long visit beginning tomorrow so I made this to satisfy her sweet tooth. She likes lemon and I decided to dial that up a bit by adding a lemon glaze. Really easy- 2 C confectioners sugar and 1/2 C lemon juice. I also added a little lemon zest for color. Delish! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Catherine says

    I really wish Richard were a baker instead of a gardener. That way Maggie’s breath would smell of amazing whipping cream cake rather than the fish fertilizer she snacked on today… You know there is no threat of ME baking anything she would get up on her hind legs for!

  12. Sarah says

    It looks so simple and delicious! I love pound cake, but sometimes I feel like it’s a bit too dense–problem solved!

  13. Kelly says

    I think Poppy would love potato salad too! I might need to leave some on the counter so she can have a little taste.

  14. Lori @ Girl Meets Oven says

    This looks so good. Some of my favorite cakes are sheet cakes. I have trouble with cake decorating anyway. It was funny to hear your dog loves cake too. My dog prefers potato salad. :)

  15. Kelly says

    That sounds quite nice. My recollection is that it is quite a bit more assertive than lemon, but yes, I think you could substitute it one for one. I hope you try it, and if you do…you must come back and let us know how it worked for you. I love modifications…something for everyone!

  16. Kelly says

    Lisa…so glad I don’t have the only one. Poppy is notorious and has eaten several VERY important items…like a dozen Sprinkles cupcakes that were my birthday cake, and an entire batch of hand decorated Easter cookies…while the kids were outside hunting for eggs. I have to put her out in the back yard if I leave the kitchen for more than 30 seconds. It is downright impressive. I hope you and your daughter like the cake. Let us all know if you make any interesting changes.

  17. Barbi Norton says

    Yummy, yummy, yummy! If you are ever in need of “taste testers” for any recipes I’m sure the Gunn Gang here at the office would be happy to help out!

  18. Lisa says

    My dog Stella, a boxer, can not be trusted with any type of baked goods in the kitchen! She ate an entire Monkey Bread a few months ago. Planning to make the cake in celebration of my daughter’s return home from college (Baylor) this weekend! Sounds delicious.

  19. Lynette says

    My cardiologist wouldn’t approve but I think this would be awesome with summer berries on top. Their bright colors atop the golden cake. I so appreciate your added information in each recipe.

  20. Susan Marie says

    I’ll have to give this one a try, too – I’m not a fan of icing, so this cake appeals to me!

    Your Poppy is precious!

  21. Vickie says

    Kelly, I used to have a recipe for a coffee cake (actually from friends who were from Texas!) that sounded remarkably similar to this one, but it used almond extract…I remember that flavor distinctly (and learning for the first time about almond extract as a young cook)! And it was sooo scrumptious, fantastic one-of-a-kind texture, as you describe! I wonder how that would work with this recipe? I wonder if you would use the same amount as of the lemon extract? If I get to it, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  22. Carolyn Jung says

    “Whipping Cream Cake” — just the name alone has me salivating. Sometimes the best things in life are simple and don’t need anything else to make them special. This cake sounds like a winner in that spirit.

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