Re-Post of the Best Birthday Cake (so far)

Our friends/neighbors’ birthday was this week (the same day, how cute/convenient is that?) and my husband suggested that we have them over. The kids made them birthday cards with their voucher for their free dinner and dessert which they happily accepted 🙂 For dinner, M grilled filet mingnon, which we served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, roasted carrots and broccoli and everyone’s favorite – roasted garlic bread. Dinner was a complete success and I’m so happy that they enjoyed it 🙂
Now, onto everyones favorite part – the birthday cake! This is our favorite layer cake so far, but I decided the next celebration cake may need to be a different recipe. To make frosting the cake easier and less messy, I always wrap and freeze the cooled cakes overnight. It really does make a difference, and waxed paper squares underneath the cake help keep the cake plate clean. This buttercream icing is so yummy and not too sweet and the cake is rich and perfectly chocolatey. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Double Layer Chocolate Cake – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

** This became a “triple layer” cake because I only have 9″ cake pans**

The recipe below is for 2 10-inch layers filled and coated in chocolate ganache. My adaptations were to split the layers to create a four-layer cake and use raspberry filling instead of chocolate. To do the same, use half the frosting and all of the raspberry filling, recipe at the end.

For cake layers

  • 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Make cake layers: Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature

Quick Chocolate Buttercream – adapted from Williams-Sonoma

  • 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 6 Tbs. milk, plus more, if needed
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions –

Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

Put the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler set over but not touching simmering water in the bottom pan. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, the 6 Tbs. milk, the vanilla and salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, then reduce the speed to low. Add the chocolate and beat until combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute more.

If the frosting is dry, add more milk, 1 tsp. at a time, until it is creamy but still holds peaks. Makes about 4 1/2 cups.

Lemon-Drenched Lemon Cake

I promised M I would make him this a long time ago, so I decided it was best to make good on that promise. Besides, he’s been giving me many guilt-trips these past few days about wanting something sweet. I hope he appreciates this! 🙂 I love lemon zest and the step where you have to rub the zest and sugar together – it smells amazing! While it’s baking is smells buttery and sweet…swoon!

Verdict: I thought it best to cut this recipe in half so the extra loaf wouldn’t tempt me! The crumb is dense, but when I bit into it; it was like a cloud 😉 It’s so light and airy – totally unexpected. It was sweet, lemony (of course) and the texture is so unique. It’s great – if you love lemon, try this!

Lemon-Drenched Lemon Cake – adapted from Joy the Baker 

Cake:

  • 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-1/3 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 6 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
  • 1 stick, plus 7 tbsp unsalted butter (15 tbsp total), melted and cooled

Syrup:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • juice of two lemons
Directions:
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9×5-inch loaf pans, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Even if the pans are nonstick, it’s a good idea to butter and flour them.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Put the sugar and the lemon zest in a large bowl, working with your fingers, rub them together until the sugar is moist and thoroughly imbued with the fragrance of lemon.
  4. Add the eggs and whisk them into the sugar, beating until they are thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in the extract, then whisk in the cream. Continuing with the whisk, or switching to a large rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients in 3 or 4 additions; the batter will be smooth and thick. Finish by folding in the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions. Pour the batter into the pans, smoothing with a rubber spatula.
  5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. As soon as the cake goes into the oven, make the syrup. After about 30 minutes in the oven, check the cakes for color- if they are browning too quickly, cover them lightly with foil tents.
  6. Stir the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts, then bring to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl and let cool.
  7. When the cakes test done, transfer them to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding them and turning them right side up on the rack. Place the rack over a baking sheet lined with wax paper and, using a thin skewer, cake tester or thin-bladed sharp knife, poke holes all over the cakes. Brush the cakes all over with the syrup, working slowly so that the cakes sop it up. Leave the cakes on the rack to cool to room temperature.