We have taken to mixing our cakes in a different order. The idea stems from our no-knead danish dough in Maximum Flavor. We mix the fat with the flour first so that the fat mixes evenly with the flour. Then we fold in the liquids. This technique is often used for biscuits and pie doughs because the individual starch granules in the flour are coated with fat and this limits gluten development. And it makes mixing batters and doughs much easier because you don't have to worry about over-mixing the batter.
In the case of our vanilla cake, we put the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the food processor and pulse to blend. Then we add the peanut oil and puree the mixture together.
The result is a compact streusel-like mass.
We add the eggs, vanilla and buttermilk all at once and puree the mixture into a smooth batter.
The fat coats the flour and prevents extensive gluten formation in the mixing.
The result is an even finely crumbed tender cake. And we end up with way fewer dishes in the process.
May 13, 2009