Getting Over A Fear of White Cake

I hated white cake, not eating it but making it for people. Since the very beginning it’s been a struggle. The last straw was when I was about 21, working long hours as a bakery owner. There was very little that was not made from scratch there. When I say “scratch” I mean measure the butter and flour and so on, I don’t mean open a box of mix and add an egg and some oil or bake the premade cookie dough.

It was pretty easy to come up with a great recipe for almost everything we had on the menu, except white cake. We tried ones with oil, ones with butter, all-purpose flour, cake flour, the variations were endless. Finally we picked a butter cake that was pretty good… so we thought.

One Monday morning this lady came in with an almost complete wedding cake from her son’s (I’m pretty sure it was her son) wedding the Saturday prior. It was our scratch white cake. Her husband at her heals. They set the tote on the counter and so it began. I started to hear how awful the cake was- the frosting was disgusting and the cake was dry, they couldn’t even serve it. Her mother made scratch cakes that were much better than this.

Thinking there was truly something wrong with this cake the three of us working tried it. We must have all given the same look and it was the wrong one apparently. None of us could tell what was wrong. That was our white cake with fondant icing (the icing is akin to a flavorless tootsie roll and mostly used for the look in North Dakota and that warning is always given- beside the point.) I asked one of the girls to cut into a white cake layer that we had just baked and gave it to this lady to compare. She began to act as though she was choking because it was so dry and continued to carry on. At which point her husband was blushing and went to wait in the truck.

She continued to get even nastier. By the time she left I was in tears and by the afternoon we decided to add a bag of white cake mix to our flour order. My hands are shaking as I write this almost 11 years later. It made me so mad and I really don’t like being treated like that- I can’t brush that off as easily as others. This was one of the three times I have been made aware of how truly awful people can be about cake to date.

That day she won.

We made the switch that I hated the most and started using a cake mix for the plain white cake. I understand why most places use it- it’s cheap and it doesn’t require a skilled worker to produce a consistent product. I had skilled workers and darn good ones!

Over time I just couldn’t let that… lady, win. A chef friend borrowed me a book that had a white cake recipe that I just had to try. It was perfect! It wasn’t “box cake moist” but as close as you can get without the added cancer causing ingredients. It kinda sucked to make though. It had a long list of ingredients- multiple types of sugars, flours and fats and a long list of steps to match. But it was from scratch.

I used that recipe for years but really needed something a little simpler. The search was back on but for most orders I still would shy away from using anything else.

I’m hesitant to say, but this fall I finally have found the recipe, the one that I’m going to keep and use. It’s ingredient list is not outrageous or cheap but it’s good. Really good I think. I’ve used it for a few orders now and no one has called and screamed at me, so that’s definitely a good start!

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