My youngest daughter’s adventures with baking award-winning cakes for our county fair started in 1983 when she was a 13-year-old 8th grader and never that interested in fairs – to attend or to exhibit. But her older sister and her mother were immersed in getting things ready for the Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Fair and she decided to enter the cake division.
Cakes were not allowed to be frosted, so all of the attention was centered on the attributes of the cake itself. She made the cake, I took it to the fair and she won a Blue Ribbon and even got her recipe printed in our community newspaper. Here is the recipe:
BLUE RIBBON WHITE CAKE
- 2-3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 4-1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup milk
- 2/3 cup Crisco shortening
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 5 egg whites
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In large mixer bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add one cup milk and Crisco. Beat with electric mixer for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add 1/3 cup milk and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter. Pour batter into two greased and floured 9″x1-1/2″ round cake pans. Bake approximately 25 minutes until cake tests done when a toothpick is inserted near the center.
Cool in pans for 15 minutes, remove from pans and cool on wire rack. Frost as desired.
The years passed by, she married, had two children, and out of nowhere in 2006, 23 years after her first blue ribbon, she decided to enter again. But this time she was adamant that she was going to get a Best of Show Rosette. Her sister and I, seasoned fair exhibitors, tried to tell her it was very difficult to get the Rosette which would represent the best cake out of all kinds of cakes – white, chocolate, spice, layer, sponge, angel food, pound, etc. She said the Rosette was all she really wanted and she would retire from fair competition after winning it. In spite of a broken oven, coping with two young children and taking the cake to the fairgrounds on a day so hot that we were afraid the cake itself would dissolve – she did it. She won the blue ribbon and the Rosette for Best of Show.
The cake was a favorite she had been baking for quite a few years as my birthday cake – White Velvet Cake from the Cake Bible cookbook.
WHITE VELVET CAKE (Cake Bible)
- 4-1/2 large egg whites (4 full liquid ounces)
- 1 cup milk, divided
- 2-1/4 tsp. vanilla
- 3 cups sifted cake flour
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 Tblsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 12 Tblsp. butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl lightly combine the egg whites, 1/4 cup milk and vanilla.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for 1-1/2 minutes. Scrape down sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.
Pour batter into prepared pans and smooth surface with a spatula. Pans will be about 1/2 full. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
Let cakes cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so the tops are up and cool completely.
Frost as desired.
Note: Two 9×1-1/2″ cake pans should be greased, bottoms lined with parchment or wax paper and then greased again and floured.
Can be frozen for two months. Texture is most perfectly moist the same day as baking.
The fair exhibit rules called for a single layer with no frosting, but I’m including the recipe for the lucious caramel frosting that she always uses for my two-layer birthday treat.
QUICK CARAMEL FROSTING (Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
- 6 Tblsp. butter
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Melt butter and brown sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan, stirring over moderate heat until sugar is dissolved. Add the milk and blend. Cool in the pan. Then beat in the confectioners’ sugar until the frosting is thick enough to spread.
I don’t expect my daughter to enter a fair again but I do expect her to bake this wonderful cake for my birthday in September.
UPDATE: My daughter did bake the cake for my birthday and it was delicious, as always.