pen rainbow

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday's Cupboard—Birthday Cake!

Yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting

Birthday cakes rule!

My search for the perfect birthday cake continues.  I tried this one from Smitten Kitchen, and it turned out a little dry.  Story of my life!  I probably over-measured the flour, so I'd be careful with this recipe and weigh out the flour.  Measuring flour is a little tricky.  You can't pack it too dense, but you have to make up for loft with a little mounding when you measure, so there is an art to it.  Since this cake turned out dry on my first attempt, I'd recommend weighing the flour instead of measuring it.

It is good, though!  Definitely worth a second attempt.  And, for a scratch cake, it is fun to make & pretty easy!

Birthdays are for celebrating!

Also...Make sure that the eggs are at room temp.  This can affect how the cake rises, so if you don't want a wet middle surrounded by fluffy cake, let them come to room temp (let eggs sit for 15 minutes in warm water to bring to room temp if straight out of the fridge).  

This cake is on the dense side, and I prefer a lighter texture in a birthday cake.  I used my favorite chocolate frosting recipe straight from the back of the Hershey's cocoa can.  A single recipe makes 2 cups of frosting, which was perfect for the 2-layer 9" cake that I made.  That frosting recipe is a keeper and has worked every time I've made it.  It is my go-to chocolate frosting, but you have to add the sprinkles before the frosting sets. Otherwise, they'll roll right off!

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Best Yellow Layer Cake by Deb Perelman


Preheat oven to 350°F

Use nonstick pans for this recipe

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers.  22 to 24 cupcakes.  Two 8-inch squares.  9×13 single-layer cake

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (480 grams) cake flour (not self-rising)

2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon (5 grams) non-iodized table salt

2 sticks (1 cup, 1/2 pound or 225 grams) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups (400 grams) fine sugar

2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature

2 cups buttermilk (475 ml), well-shaken

PAM spray for baking

Spray nonstick pans with PAM for baking (a flour & oil combination).

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at
medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla.  I use my Cuisinart mixer for this.

Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined > Mixture will look curdled. Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.  Don't overmix.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pans on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake until lightly golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan.  Tap the pans on the counter to loosen the cakes.  Invert to release & place flat bottoms down on a rack.  

Cool completely, about 1 hour.With a large bread knife, level off the tops of each layer so that they stack evenly.  Keep the scraps for tasty nibbles with an afternoon cup of tea.  This cake is similar to a quickbread in consistency and like a shortbread in flavor.  Mild & delicious!

Use PAM for baking to spray nonstick pans
Use finer textured bread flour
Aluminum-free baking powder
Beat eggs & butter until light & fluffy
Add buttermilk > mixture will look curdled
Add flour mixture 1/3 c. at a time just until incorporated

Ready for baking!
Just out of the oven
Trimmed and ready for frosting

Adapted from Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Frosting

Makes 2 cups

1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 c.)
2/3 c. HERSHEY'S cocoa
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 

MELT BUTTER in the microwave.  Stir in cocoa.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl or to a Cuisinart mixer.  Alternately (in thirds) add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed to spreading consistency.  Add up to 2 more teaspoons of milk, if you want to thin the frosting just a bit.  Finally, beat in the vanilla until smooth.  Frost & apply sprinkles immediately.

Hershey's cocoa + melted unsweetened butter = divine

I use Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate chocolate frosting recipe
on the back of the cocoa container

first layer frosted