The name of this vanilla cake, when I first found the recipe, was “shortcake Deluxe,” but a shortcake is a large biscuit that is split,filled with fresh fruit and topped with whipped cream. This cake is light,spongy, and nothing like a biscuit, but it can be filled with fresh fruit or custard and is also topped with whipped cream.
My vanilla cake calls for ingredients everyone has on hand (except cream of tartar found in the spice section of most grocery stores), requires fewer steps than a layer cake, and serves 10 people generously. I have made this cake for so many occasions like birthdays, summer BBQ’s, holidays and everyone always exclaims over how pretty it looks;then,they always want seconds. Since it only calls for 1/3 cup of oil,it has way fewer calories than a layer cake, so people can have seconds without feeling too guilty.
4 large eggs, divided
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/4 cup white sugar (for egg white meringue)
3/4 cup sugar (for batter mixture)
1/3 cup of water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup of oil
1 9″ tube pan (DO NOT use a bundt pan)
1 quart of fresh strawberries or other fruit sliced and sugared with 1 or 2 tbsp of sugar. Mash up with a potato masher. Add several dollops of whipped cream and combine with a wooden spoon. Place on lower layer of cake using an icing spatula or kitchen knife.
Place 1 quart of whipping cream into a mixing bowl. Add 2 tbsp of sugar and a tsp of vanilla. Whip on low until combined. Increase speed as cream begins to thicken and stops spraying cream out of the bowl. THen whip it on medium high speed until it forms soft, billowy peaks. You do not want the cream to look curdled or too firm, although if that should happen, use it anyway. It won’t look bad and will still taste wonderful.
Separate the eggs, placing the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl using a hand mixer. Sprinkle in the 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar. Beat the egg whites on low to incorporate the cream of tartar. Then beat the egg whites on medium high until soft peaks form. Add the 1/4 cup of sugar in increments of two tablespoons at a time. Beat the whites until they become stiff and glossy like a meringue.
Remove the whites to another bowl and using the stand mixer bowl add the batter ingredients. Put in the flour, water, sugar, vanilla, oil and baking powder.Beat the mixture on low until mixed. Then beat on medium high until the batter becomes lighter in color, thickens, and looks like thick egg nog.
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, if using a stand mixer. Pile on the egg whites and fold them into the batter mixture using a wire whip or a rubber spatula. Make sure all the meringue is incorporated into the batter and no streaks are showing.
Pour the batter into the tube pan. Place the tube pan into a preheated 325 degree oven and bake the cake for 38 minutes or until a finger pressed into the top springs back. Try not to overbake this cake so it will remain moist.
When the cake is done, remove the pan from the oven and place it on top of a metal funnel which is on top of a cake rack. Let it cool. If you do not have a funnel, place the cake pan over a bottle. Let the cake cool completely.
To remove the cake from the pan, run a thin serrated knife all around the sides and the center tube of the pan. With a small icing spatula you can also run it under the cake to loosen it from underneath. Do this carefully so as not to tear the cake. The cake is very spongy and it lets you do this. Place a dinner plate over the top of the pan, turn the pan upside down and shake it. The cake will fall out onto the plate. You can now slice it carefully into two layers lengthwise, using a large serrated bread knife.
Make the fresh fruit filling and cover the bottom layer with the mixture. Cover the mixture with the top layer and then cover the top layer with lots of whipped cream. (I whip up a quart of heavy cream to make enough to cover the cake all over.)