Birthday Cake

Happy Friday!  Last week I shared the brown butter banana cake I made for my birthday and today I’m sharing the second cake I made to celebrate.  I mulled over the decision of what kind of cake to make for far too long.  It’s rare that I have the opportunity to make a layer cake so it always feels like I need to pick exactly the right cake for the occasion.  In the end, there were too many options and no one that stood out as the clear winner, so I called my mom and had she and my step-dad decide.  They requested chocolate cake, and I went from there.  

Birthday Cake

The chocolate cake was wonderful – moist and light, but still sturdy, with a wonderfully fudgy chocolate flavor.  It retained its lovely texture even when refrigerated.  The recipe, which comes from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, was developed to be used as part of a German chocolate cake recipe and the addition of the unbeaten egg whites to the batter accounts for the cake’s terrific structure.  For the frosting, I had originally planned to go with a cream cheese frosting, which is always a popular choice at my house, but at the last minute I saw a recipe for white chocolate cream cheese frosting that intrigued me.  I only had enough white chocolate on hand to make 2/3 of the recipe below and it really wasn’t quite enough to frost my cake (and I had none left over to decorate the top of the cake) so I recommend making the full recipe.  The frosting is sweet but also tangy and I thought it complemented the cake nicely.  As I was making the cake I noticed a few strawberries in my fridge that needed to be used so I sliced them up and stuck them between the layers of the cake.  They were a fantastic addition – adding much more strawberry flavor than I expected!  The only thing I’d do differently next time would be to cut them a bit smaller.  Otherwise, this was a wonderful birthday treat and definitely something I’d make again!

Birthday Cake

Chocolate Cake
from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum

2.3 oz (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) Dutch process cocoa powder
4.2 oz (1/2 cup) boiling water
3.7 oz (1/2 cup) canola oil
2.6 oz (1/4 cup) egg yolks (about 4 eggs), at room temperature
6.3 oz (3/4 cup) egg whites (about 4 eggs plus 2 whites), at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2.6 oz (3/4 cup) cake flour
2.6 oz (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour
10.6 oz (1 1/2 cups) superfine sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Grease the bottoms of two 9×2-inch round cake pans (leave the sides uncoated) and line with parchment rounds.  Preheat oven to 350 F with a rack in the bottom third of the oven.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, use a whisk to combine the cocoa and boiling water until smooth.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes so the mixture can come to room temperature.  Add the oil and egg yolks to the mixer bowl and beat with the whisk attachment, starting on low speed and then increasing to medium.  Beat on medium for 1 minute or until shiny and smooth.  Beat in the vanilla for a few seconds.

In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Sift half of this mixture into the chocolate mixture in the stand mixer’s bowl and then beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then repeat with the other half of the dry ingredients.  Raise the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl – the mixture will be very thick.  On low speed, add the egg whites and beat at medium-high speed for 2 minutes. 

Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pans.  Each pan will hold about 17.5 oz of batter and be one-quarter full.  Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centers come out clean.  Remove the cakes from the oven and immediately run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pans and the cakes.  Invert the cakes onto wire cooling racks that have been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Remove the parchment from the bottom of the cakes and then invert them onto the racks so they are right side up.  Cool completely.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott (as seen on A Whisk and a Spoon)

6 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
12 oz (1 1/2 cups) cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners sugar
In the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl, melt the white chocolate, stirring often. Remove from the heat once melted and let cool to lukewarm. Transfer the melted white chocolate to a large bowl, and add the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Beat together at medium speed until you have a smooth sauce. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until smooth.

To assemble the cake, transfer one of the cake layers to a cake platter (or plate or cardboard circle) right side up.  Spread about a 1/4-inch thick layer of white chocolate cream cheese frosting on top of the cake.  Layer with fresh strawberry slices.  Place the second cake on top of the frosting and berries, with the flat side (the bottom) up, and press gently.  If you want to crumb coat the cake to seal it, frost the entire cake with a thin layer of the frosting and then refrigerate to set.  Once set, apply a second layer of frosting on top of the first to cover the cake completely.  Garnish as desired.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.