My answer: "Good question, and you know what? I have no clue who (or what) is 'Zilla.'"
I do know what a "Zilla's cake" is: it is essentially an English warm milk cake. And it is the perfect cake for any occasion, especially since it's a cinch to whip together. It is wonderfully spongy: when you press on it lightly with your finger, you can hear the spongy sound of the air releasing from inside the tiny bubbles of the cake. This sponginess makes it ideal for soaking flavorful syrups, or liqueurs like sweet sherry for a trifle. I'd say it's comparable to a genoise in that sense, but much, much easier to throw together: none of the careful folding in of the flour into airy eggs and sugar. It's my mom's favorite cake recipe, passed down from her mom, which makes this recipe extra special. And now, I'm passing it on to you. Here's the recipe for the Zilla's cake, exactly as it is written on my mom's recipe card (yes, that's right, it's hand-written on a recipe card!):
Makes 1 loaf or 1 tube cake
- 2 eggs beaten well - electric mixer
- Add 1 cup white sugar gradually
- Sift 1 cup flour and 1 tsp baking powder and salt.
- Heat 1/2 cup milk with 1 tbspn butter. add 1 tsp vanilla
- Add dry ingredients alternately with wet ones.
- Bake 350 degrees - 35 mins
- If you have the patience, you can beat the eggs and sugar to the ribbon stage. If you don't have the time, just make sure that they are frothy. I'm not sure that beating them to the ribbon stage is necessary, but this time I did go the extra mile and was pleased with the extra sponginess that it gave the final cake.
- When adding the wet and the dry alternately, remember to start and end with the dry. Thus: dry, wet, dry, wet, dry. This is one of the golden rules of baking, although I'm not quite sure why.
- We always butter (or spray with cooking spray) the inside of the pan and coat it with sugar (not flour) because sugar is delicious, whereas a layer of flour on the outside of a cake can taste gross. This means that you have to be very careful and get the baked cake out of the pan when it is just cool enough to release from the pan, but not so cool that the sugar has recrystallized, thereby irreversibly gluing the cake to the inside of the pan. Let it cool a maximum of 10 minutes before removing the cake from the pan.
- The 35-minute baking time is pretty exact. Normally, my mom and her mom would bake this in a tube pan (angel food cake pan). It always takes exactly 35 minutes for the cake to bake. No joke. This time, I chose to deviate from the tradition, and I baked it in a loaf pan. And, once again, it came out perfectly! The only difference was that it baked for 47 minutes. Now, I've only baked it once in the loaf pan, so I cannot say for sure that it will take you 47 minutes. So start checking it after 45 minutes, or when you notice the edges coming away from the sides.