Continuing the birthday cake project in an attempt to make a birthday cake from scratch for my Father, whose birthday is fast approaching, I tried this past weekend to bake an actual birthday cake this time. A layered Vanilla cake with chocolate frosting and Strawberries.
I was unable to find one recipe that I liked so decided to combine two recipes to create the cake that I wanted to make. I took a Vanilla cake recipe and a chocolate frosting recipe in order to make a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting cake.
I greased, lined with parchement paper and dusted with flour two 9-inch round cake pans. I know now not to wear black when baking.
Butter and sugar...
To be creamed together until light yellow and fluffy.
Things that I've learned thus far
#1 Do not try to mix butter and sugar together unless the butter is indeed at room temperature- don't even try it unless you want to be covered in sugar.
#2 When a recipe calls for light yellow and fluffy use your best judgement- mine never got light yellow and what exactly are they looking for when they say "fluffy"?
I added the eggs in one by one
I added 1/2 the sifted flour mixture, then the entire 1 cup of milk and then the rest of the flour. the recipe directed to 'alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in three parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients' I assume this is what they meant.
And since I had not baking powder I substituted with 3/4 tsp of lemon juice and 1/4 tsp of baking soda which apparently is supposed to do the same thing... I suppose I'll never know if this actually worked. but since I had no baking powder I added the substitution straight away into the mixture along with the dry ingredients instead of following the recipe directions which said to sift the baking powder in with the flour.
I added the extracts, my favorite part because they just smell so wonderful...
I poured the batter as evenly as I could into the two prepared cake-pans and hoped for the best. When I took them out of the oven after 50 minutes and the tops were nicely evenly browned I realized that one was more lopsided than the other, but I didn't let this trouble me since it's pretty simple to level it out.
When the cakes were completely cooled I began to make the chocolate frosting, which of course starts with chocolate!
I melted the chocolate in a double boiler, just another fancy way of saying putting a heat-proof glass with the chocolate in it on top of a pot with water boiling in it (making sure the boiling water is not touching the glass bowl), this way you can melt the chocolate without burning it- is my guess. After it was melted I set the chocolate aside to cool down.
And while the chocolate was cooling I got started on the butter...
Beat the butter until once again, 'light yellow and fluffy' after which point you add the coffee and mix to incorporate.
Then add the chocolate and the vanilla extract
I mixed this part by hand since the direction specifically said not to beat, so I mixed away to blend all the ingredients thoroughly together.
My cakes were cooled my frosting made and now for the fun part! Putting it all together. First I needed to level the ugliest cake (so it could serve as my base). I leveled by simply taking a knife to it and slicing off the top to make it even.
I frosted the top of the bottom layer...
Then set the second layer on top like so...
Then frosted the whole thing!
I sliced strawberries and placed them on top as shown in the very first picture of this post, I can't say I'd make a great cake decorator that's for sure but the whole process was a lot of fun. As for the cake... even with the vanilla cake I found it too sweet, the taste of the cake itself was okay but I'm not completely sold, so... it's on with the next!
Perhaps you'll have better results, if you want to try it just look below for the recipe.
Cake recipe from Barefoot Contessa at Home:
3/4lbs or 3 sticks of room temperature butter
2 Cups of sugar
5 Extra-large room temperature eggs
1 1/2 Tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tsp pure almond extract
3 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Tsp baking powder (I substituted with 3/4tsp of lemon juice & 1/4 tsp of baking soda)
1/2 Tsp baking soda
1/2 Tsp kosher salt
1 Cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper and grease again
Dust cake pans lightly with flour
Cream the butter and sugar on med-high speed until light yellow and fluffy
Crack eggs into a bowl and while mixing on medium speed add the eggs one at a time making sure to scrape the bowl down once during mixing
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
Mixing at low speed add half the sifted flour, then the 1-cup of milk, then the rest of the flour. Mix the batter just until combined.
Pour the batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans.
Bake at the center of the oven for about 50 minutes until tops are browned and cake tester comes out clean.
Cool on a cooling rack still in the cake pans for 30 minutes and then turn the cakes out and finish cooling on the cooling rack.
Chocolate frost from Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook:
6 Oz semisweet chocolate
1/2 lb or 2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
1 Extra-large egg yolk at room temperature
1Tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 Cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp Instant coffee powder (I substituted with 1 tbsp of very strong coffee)
Chop the chocolate and place on a double boiler (a glass bowl on top of a pot with enough water to come to a boil but not touch the glass sitting on top), stir until chocolate is just melted and then set aside to cool.
Beat the butter until light yellow and fluffy
Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and continue to beat
Mixing at a low speed gradually add the confectioners' sugar making sure to scrape the bowl down when necessary. Consistency should be smooth and creamy.
If your using instant coffee powder, dissolve the 1tbsp of coffee powder in 2 tsp of very hot tap water, if you've made strong coffee used 2 tsp of the strong coffee made and add that into the mixture along with the melted cooled chocolate. Do not whip the mixture simply mix until blended.
Spread the icing on the cooled cakes. layer icing on the top of one cake, put the second cake on top and then layer the top of the second cake and then the sides of both cakes.