Gram had several cake recipes, through which I’m sifting — Lady Baltimore, Queen Elizabeth, cakes that have great aspirational names. This one does too: Cordon Bleu Cake.

For all the fancyness of the name, this is a great and durable cake. I’ve made it on the fly, with substituted ingredients, in a questionable oven . . . the cake rises above all. (One thing that it cannot overcome: Whole-wheat pastry flour. Like eating sweetened chunky sand.)

Cordon Bleu cake from Baking Family

A tabbed parchment liner helps you get the cake out of the pan...and see how the well-done cake pulls away from the pan's side?

The original recipe called for greasing the pan, then adding waxed paper and greasing that. This is where my friend parchment paper comes in. Just trace the bottom of your pan on parchment paper and cut, leaving two “tabs” on opposite sides of the circle. You’ll use those tabs to pull the cake out of the pan. I still grease the whole pan first, then stick the parchment-paper circle in the bottom; the butter holds everything in place as you add the batter.

This weekend I made the cake with orange icing, in honor of a gathering of old friends. It seemed an appropriate color and flavor with which to fight the January blues. The orange icing was Dad’s favorite, bar none. His birthday cake every year I can remember? Cordon Bleu cake with orange icing.

I’m going to post the orange icing soon; it needs some work. I didn’t want to hold back on the cake, though. Use your own favorite icing, and have a winter-blues fighting party at your house.

Cordon Bleu Cake

Makes one two-layer 9-inch cake

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 rounded teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg white

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 2 9-inch cake pans. Cut parchment paper to fit bottoms of pans, leaving tabs on each side of the circles to use as lifters. Fit parchment into pans.

In a large bowl, cream butter until light; slowly add sugar, beating with a wooden spoon until very light. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time.

In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Add flour to batter alternating with milk, mixing well. In a small bowl, beat egg white until stiff; fold gently into batter.

Divide batter between the two pans, spreading gently until even. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until cakes are golden brown and are just beginning to pull away from the edges of the pans.

Let pans stand on a rack for 2-3 minutes; turn one cake out onto rack, and one onto your cake platter. When cake is cool, ice the first layer, then turn the second layer right side up on top of first layer and ice that.

Photos and recipe © 2010 Garside Group LLC