Monday, December 1, 2008

The Perfect Birthday Cake

Before I left town for Thanksgiving I promised to tell you about the Badger's utterly perfect birthday cake. So, before I show you the fascinating pictures from our exotic holiday, I will reveal the cake in all its splendor:

The Badger usually asks for a German chocolate cake, but this was the first time I made the whole thing from scratch, including the frosting.

I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe which I got several years ago from my good friend Karla and which totally transformed the way I thought about chocolate cake. You must try it.

Fudgy Chocolate Layer Cake

3/4 C butter
2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
2 1/4 C flour
2 C sugar
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 C buttermilk
2 eggs

Grease and flour two nine inch round pans.
Melt butter and chocolate over low heat.
Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.
Add chocolate mixture, eggs, and buttermilk.
Beat low speed 1 minute, high speed 2 minutes until light and fluffy. (This is the fun part because you get to watch it turn into the most luscious-looking fluffy batter:


Pour into pans. Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.
Cool in pan 5 minutes, then invert onto wire rack.

I have frosted this baby with several different kinds of frosting. The recipe comes with a suggested ganache but when I ate it that way I about passed out on the floor. There is such a thing as too much chocolate. Plus, the richness of the ganache drowned out the buttery chocolatey flavor of the cake. It's so good that if you're not eating it plain you need to be very careful that you're accenting it and not drowning it out.

Coconut pecan frosting is perfect for the job. I'd never made it from scratch before. I thought it was a mysterious substance that only appeared in little plastic cans at the grocery store.

But I looked it up in Joy of Cooking and there it was! On page 999, I might add.

Combine in medium saucepan:
1 C sugar
1 C heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
1 stick butter cut into small pieces

Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the mixture is thickened and bubbling gently around the edges. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in:

1 1/3 C sweetened coconut flakes
1 1/3 C chopped pecans (I toasted them first-- oh ho HO HO HO!!!!)

Let cool until spreadable.

The traditional way to frost a German chocolate cake is top and middle only, not sides.

I used to have a personal rule that if a recipe called for separating eggs it crossed the line into the "too fiddly to be worth it" category. This was the first time I'd broken that rule. And this frosting was so worth it.

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scraps said...

You did a great job!
It is fun to make it from scratch. Also is,McKenzie's favorite cake for his birthday. But he does like the store brand frosting, I like home-made.

janeannechovy said...

It's beautiful--and if you saved your egg whites you can make those almond macaroons I've posted about before.