Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy Birthday to me...

At times, I am a simple girl. My favorite cake always has been Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing. I have had it from the box, from scratch and even in ice cream form. (curses to Marble Slab Creamery...) Quite honestly, I will take it any way I can get it.
This year for my birthday, I decided to indulge my culinary senses and bake a gorgeous cake all for myself. And so I did. (ok, I shared a little...) The cakes were perfect. And I am no baker, so I say that with pride. The icing...well that is a different story entirely. See, I prefer the whipped buttercream type of chocolate icing. And unbeknownst to me, the icing I decided to make actually turned out to be more of a dark chocolate ganache. It was good, but quite strong. A little whipped cream even things out nicely.

Here are the recipes I used.
Yellow Butter Cake
makes two 9-inch round cakes.

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans.
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1-1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1-3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9x2" round cake pans; *Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition.
3. **Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating halfway through, until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Transfer pans to wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack, peel off the parchment. Re-invert cakes and let them cool completely top sides up.*I skipped the parchment paper and my cakes were fine.
**it might help to use large measuring spoons here to get an equal amount if you aren't used to "eyeballing it".

Chocolate Frosting
makes enough to frost and fill the recipe above.

24 ounces best quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into pieces
1/2 cup plus one Tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus one Tablespoon boiling water
3 sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
pinch of salt
2 layers of Yellow Butter Cake
sprinkles are optional...

1. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl over, but not touching, simmering water. Turn off heat, stirring occasionally until chocolate has melted completely, about 15 minutes. Sit bowl on counter top and let chocolate cool to room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine cocoa powder and boiling water together and stir until cocoa has dissolved.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, confectioner's sugar and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add melted chocolate, beat on low speed until combined, 102 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in cocoa mixture.
3. ***Using a serrated knife, cut off the tops of the cakes until even, brush off crumbs. Place 4 pieces of parchment paper around the base of a serving plate of lazy Susan. Place the 1st layer on the cake plate and spread with 1/3 of frosting, add the 2nd layer upside down and spread with remaining frosting.

***I didn't cut my cakes, I simply used as is. And the frosting part is kind of trial and error if you've never done that before. But just go for it. It all takes good in the end!

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