Writing. Doodling. Singing. Sewing. Dancing. Acting. Painting. Cooking. Designing. How many creative outlets do you have?
Humans crave creativity anywhere they can find it, and study after study has shown that the more artistic acts we engage in, the better. Is writing the sole avenue for your creative juices? There’s nothing wrong with that. But when you find yourself in a writing rut, discovering – or rediscovering – an artistic activity can be one of the easiest ways to engage your right brain and generate inspiration. Creativity breeds creativity.
Which is exactly why Write In Color indulged in its culinary creativity last week by baking a rainbow cake. Although baking is notorious for requiring perfectly measured ingredients and exact cooking times, all it takes is a few twists to push baking into the realm of art. So where did Write In Color’s creativity kick in? Using food coloring to transform each of these layers from white to any hue we desired. The results: A delicious, vibrant take on white cake and a generous helping of inspiration to fuel the next day’s writings.
White Cake with a Colorful Twist
(Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe in The Cake Bible)
* Write In Color doubled the recipe to make its 8-layer rainbow version
2 1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), plus more for dusting the pans
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
Set oven rack in middle position. (If oven is too small to cook both layers on a single rack, set racks in upper-middle and lower-middle positions.) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray four 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.
Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.
Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.
Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.
Divide batter evenly among four bowls. Apply food coloring – a few drops goes a long way! – to create a different colored batter in each bowl. Pour each bowl of colored batter into a prepared cake pan; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted
in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.
Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Reinvert onto additional wire racks. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.
Vanilla Whipped Cream
(for between layers)
1 pint whipping cream
½ c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
In a stand mixer, beat whipping cream until it turns to consistency of whipped cream. Stir in sugar and vanilla to taste. When assembling the cake, apply a generous layer of the whipped cream between each cake layer.
(For top and sides of cake; adapted from Joy of Baking)
In an electric or hand mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Add the milk and beat on high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Once the cake layers are stacked with whipped cream between each, apply frosting to top and sides of cake