White Chocolate Cake with Brownstone Front Icing

White Chocolate Cake with Brownstone Front Icing

My neighbor Sally asked me to check out this recipe she’d brought with her from home. “There’s something I’m doing wrong, but I don’t know what it is. I’ll never figure out this high-altitude baking!” She brought us a sample of what she’d made (which we both thought was delicious!) But I promised I’d look it over and see what might be wrong.

How to Adjust a Cake Recipe

There are several elements to any cake that need to be adjusted for high-altitude: Oven Temperature, Baking Time, Sugar, Liquid, Flour and Leavening. They all work together, so if you change one, you really need to fix the others as well. Check out my article on High-Altitude Baking Adjustments.

When I looked over Sally’s recipe, one thing I noticed was the baking time seemed to be very long. Overbaking a cake can really dry it out, which is what she said was wrong. So I took a look at that. Also, the cake was a bit crumbly. And that deserves it’s own discussion altogether.


Keep your cakes moist with these handy cake covers:


How to Avoid a Crumbly Cake

Dry, crumbly cakes are such a disappointment. While the cake may look fantastic, if the texture is not moist, with a good structure to hold it together, it’s really a waste of time and ingredients.

Here are some things to examine in your recipe if your first attempt comes out dry and crumbly:

  • How much flour are you using? Too much flour can cause a cake to become dry. If your cake came out dry, back off the flour by 2 tablespoons and see if that improves it.
  • How much liquid are you using? Too little shortening or liquid can also cause dryness. You can increase liquid by adding 2 tablespoons of milk or an extra egg yolk.
  • Are you mixing the batter properly? Batter that isn’t mixed enough can cause the cake to be crumbly. While you don’t want to overmix a cake, so as to avoid forming gluten strands as in a loaf of bread, if you undermix the cake, you won’t get any structure developed at all. You also risk not distributing the ingredients throughout the batter. Be sure to scrape your bowl thoroughly to make sure all the ingredients are truly incorporated.
  • Use of Eggs. This one is particularly important. Egg whites are a drying agent, and overbeating egg whites or using too many of them can lead to a dry cake. Try eliminating one of the whites.
  • Use of Sugar. Too much sugar can create a crumbly texture. The weight of the sugar should be just slightly higher than the weight of the flour. If it’s too far out of whack, it will show up in the texture. If your cake is crumbly and the balance to flour is a bit high, try backing off 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  • Baking or Oven Temperature. Calibrate your actual oven temperature with your thermostat setting using an oven thermometer. You’d be amazed at how far off it can be. Check my article on oven temperature calibration.
White Chocolate Cake with Brownstone Front Icing
White Chocolate Cake with Brownstone Front Icing

For more information on how to improve the moisture in your cakes, check out this excellent video by my friend Jillian Butler. She is spot-on on all of her advice (especially that toothpick test!) so give it a look-see:

With Sally’s cake, I changed the process to eliminate whipping the egg whites beforehand (an old technique that makes the cake lighter, but is very drying). I also changed the eggs from 4 whole eggs to 3 whole and 3 egg yolks, adding moisture and eliminating some egg whites. This seemed to solve the problem. Enjoy!

White Chocolate Cake with Brownstone Front Icing
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5 from 1 vote

White Chocolate Cake (Under 3,000 ft.)

A fine white cake, flavored with white chocolate, pecans and coconut.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: White Chocolate Cake
Servings: 8 Servings
Author: Don Herman

Ingredients

  • 4 oz White Chocolate melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups Cake Flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 3 lg Egg Yolks
  • 3 lg Whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Pecans chopped
  • 1 cup Flaked Coconut
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Instructions

  • Grease and flour two, 8" or 9" cake pans (traditionally, two square 9" pans are used. I used two 8" round pans.)
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar. Add the cooled, melted chocolate.
  • Add whole eggs and yolks, one at a time, incorporating after each addition.
  • Add the flour and buttermilk, alternating in thirds. Add vanilla and beat well for 2 minutes.
  • Fold in the chopped pecans and coconut.
  • Pour batter into pans and bake at 350°F for 35 minutes, or until cake springs back to a finger. Remove and cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove and cool completely on rack.
  • Frost with Brownstone Front Icing.
White Chocolate Cake with Brownstone Front Icing
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

White Chocolate Cake (5,000 – 6,000 ft)

A fine white cake, flavored with white chocolate, pecans and coconut.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: White Chocolate Cake
Servings: 8 Servings
Author: Don Herman

Ingredients

  • 4 oz White Chocolate melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 cup Butter
  • 2 cups Sugar LESS 2 tablespoons
  • 2 1/2 cups Cake Flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 3 lg Egg Yolks
  • 3 lg Whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Pecans chopped
  • 1 cup Coconut flaked
  • 1 tsp Vanilla

Instructions

  • Grease and flour two, 8" or 9" cake pans (traditionally, two square 9" pans are used. I used two 8" round pans.)
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar. Add the cooled, melted chocolate.
  • Add whole eggs and yolks, one at a time, incorporating after each addition.
  • Add the flour and buttermilk, alternating in thirds. Add vanilla and beat well for 2 minutes.
  • Fold in the chopped pecans and coconut.
  • Pour batter into pans and bake at 375°F for 30 minutes, or until cake springs back to a finger. Remove and cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove and cool completely on rack.
  • Frost with Brownstone Front Icing.

I iced the cake with Sally’s recipe for caramel icing (known as Brownstone Front Icing.) It’s a bit labor-intensive, but pairs well with this particular cake.

You’ll need to bring the icing ingredients to a “soft-ball” stage, as if you were making candy. I use a candy thermometer to get an accurate reading. It’s very easy to under- or over-cook. Undercooking will give you a runny icing, while overcooking will give you a caramel apple topping! So just check carefully as you stir and remove when you reach 235°F.

White Chocolate Cake with Brownstone Front Icing
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Brownstone Front Icing

A soft-ball caramel icing made with evaporated milk and sugar. Perfect with the White Chocolate Cake
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
10 mins
Total Time40 mins
Servings: 8 Servings
Author: Don Herman

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Butter room temperature
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 4 oz Evaporated milk (small can)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp Salt

Instructions

  • Melt together sugar and butter. Add milk and stir frequently while heating.
  • Heat until the temperature reaches soft ball temperature (235°F or 112°C measured by a candy thermometer. At about 212°F or 100°C, the temperature will plateau for quite a while, but don't get impatient. This is just the water vaporizing from the milk and butter. This needs to happen to create the caramel. It will begin increasing again after a bit.
  • Once you reach the soft ball temperature, pour the hot, thickened batter into a mixer and beat until the butter and solids recombine to form a uniform light tan icing.
  • Spread the icing quickly over the cake. It will stiffen as it cools, so you get one good shot at it.
  • Garnish with chopped pecans, if desired.

Let me know how it turned out for you. I’d love to hear from you.

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars


    I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw this recipe! I have a 3-ring binder that holds a collection of my favorite recipes that I’ve assembled over the last 50-some years or so. The binder is titled “Yummy-Sounding Recipes I’d Like To Actually Get Around To Trying Someday”. One of those recipes is one that I used to make back in the early 1970’s. I got it from a friend of mine named Jeri (Geraldine) Everline and it was for White Chocolate Cake with Brownstone Front Frosting. The recipes are nearly identical, so I went ahead and gave yours 5 stars-mine always came out wonderful. Well, except when I burnt the frosting and had to throw it out & start again. I didn’t have the exact temp measurements back then. Thanks for a trip down memory lane and I hope some of your “readers” give this a try!
    1. So glad I was able to preserve a memory! This is a classic, yes, so not surprised it’s very similar. I just added the high-altitude version that I made. Enjoy!

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