Rosanna Bauman recently wrote about Cold Water White Cake in one of her recent columns. Reader Teresa decided to make the cake and gave it this rave review:
I made this cake this evening and it was crazy delicious. Such a simple recipe, but great flavor and texture. I thought I had done something wrong as it seemed to curdle initially, but after I added the flour, it smoothed out. The egg whites lightened it, and it had a top similar to angel food cake after it baked. I served it with strawberries and whipped cream, like a shortcake, similar to what Rosanna does. Thanks so much to her for sharing this very old family favorite. I will be making it all summer!
I’m glad Teresa had such good luck with this cake. I’m now calling it the “cursed cake”:), but in the end it was worth the wait….I think.
I decided to make the cake myself because Rosanna and now Teresa had given it such glowing comments. In theory it should be a quick cake, but in reality it would be 10 grueling hours before I finally got to enjoy a piece. So here’s my cake diary:
2 p.m. – Mouth already watering, I started to make this cake. Mistakes: didn’t use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites. And I probably didn’t use cold enough water. But the realization of those errors wouldn’t come until later. For now, everything was going swimmingly, the batter tasted great,
2:30 p.m. the cakes were safely in the oven and I sat down to do some writing.
2:45 p.m. A vague burning smell is coming from the kitchen. I ignore it at first, thinking I must be imagining it. After all, the cake has only been in the oven for 15 minutes at 350, hardly the recipe for a fire.
2:50 p.m. Burning smell becomes a little stronger, too strong to ignore, so I head to the kitchen to investigate. Cake batter is pouring over the pan edges and dripping into the oven below, letting off contrails of smoke as the batter hits the elements. I quickly stick a cookie sheet on the rack below to catch the running batter. I’m still willing to give the cake a chance, so with the dripping cake crisis quelled I go back to work.
3 p.m. Check on the cake and the top has formed a golden crust, too golden…bake any longer and it will burn. So I remove cakes from oven and set on cooling racks on top of the stove. The cakes look sunken (no surprise since half the batter is now on the bottom of my oven).
6 p.m. Rachel arrives home from work and starts grilling me on where I might have gone wrong. The kitchen detective she is discovers I had used baking powder that was 3 years past its expiration date. Might that have been the problem? She asks me a battery of other questions.
“Hey, if you think you can do any better, have at it!”
So she did. But first I spend the next half hour armed with baking soda and vinegar to clean out the oven from the first disaster.
6:30 p.m. She starts making it, but I head to the store to get unexpired baking powder.
7 p.m. She uses electric mixer to beat egg whites and baking powder and it forms a nice foamy froth. I’m suspecting that may have been my error – beating manually – rather than the baking powder. Now we discover that we are almost out of flour. I contemplate running to the store again, but I text my neighbor to see if she has a cup of flour I can “borrow.” Score; she does. Thanks, Mary Jo. So I head over there with a zip loc bag to procure a cup of flour. Make sure you use ice-cold water, just tap water cold probably doesn’t do it.
7:15 – 8 p.m. Rachel and I eat supper as the cakes bake. I go down to check on them periodically and they look good. By 8 p.m. I have them out of the oven and on cooling racks.
8:00 p.m. While Rachel contemplates what frosting to make for the cake, I decide to bring our two dogs inside. But I can only find one. I walk the perimeter of our yard and discover a weak spot in our fence where our beagle had wriggled through to freedom. I alert Rachel and the search is on. She canvasses the neighborhood by car, and I on foot.
8:30 p.m. Initial search turns up nothing. Rachel makes some calls to people in the neighborhood telling them to be on the look-out.
10 p.m. A search of the neighborhood turns up nothing and I begin to resign myself that maybe “The Beagle” has escaped for good. Periodically through the years Beagle has found weak spots in the perimeter of our fence and exploited them for freedom. Even in those cases, though, he’s gone through all the trouble to escape but then never went very far. This time, I suppose,he figured he’d take advantage of his time on the lam.
10:30 p.m. I decide to make one last sweep of the neighborhood by car to find Beagle. Rosanna calls me as I am driving around. She and I usually talk on Tuesdays. I explain the current crisis and tell her I can’t talk long, we’ll catch up later. But just as I explain to her what is going on, I see a shadowy figure slinking across a road about a mile from my house. It’s Beagle!
“Hang on, Rosanna, I’ll be right back.”
I open the door and he jumps right in, I think he maybe realized the outside world wasn’t all it’s cracked up be and was happy to be back.
11 p.m. After all that searching I am hungry to finally try this cake, but discover we are out of cocoa and vanilla for the frosting. And the cat is out of food. SIGH. Back to the supermarket for vanilla, cocoa, and cat food. I’m so tired, have to make sure the cat food doesn’t end up in the frosting.
Midnight – Cake is frosted, finally eating a piece…Yum….here is a picture of the finally frosted cake. This was a mighty delicious slice of cake, just never thought I’d be eating it as a midnight snack yesterday.
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1 /2 cups flour
Beat egg whites with baking powder until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, cream sugar with shortening. Add cold water, vanilla, flour, and pinch of salt.
Fold in egg whites. Pour batter into 9″ round cake pans that are greased and floured. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes. Frost with your favorite frosting when cool.