Monday, January 14, 2013

Chocolate (Birthday) Cake

Ok I have been on a baking binge recently!  I kind of realized I love baking, partially because I'm very good at following recipes, and let's admit, baking usually requires an exactness of ingredient quantity and method, which you can give up for creativity in cooking.  Hence I've also realized that I must buy a hand mixer with a dough hook attachment and eventually when I can afford it, a good standing mixer! (as a bribe my mother has offered to buy me one when if I move back to the States).


Here is a chocolate cake I made for my mother's birthday (check out her blog here, and her new book!!) It uses oil and not butter, giving it that delicious moist cake quality I love! So without a heavy frosting it can be a healthier option. If you love chocolate cake you were surely love this, and it's super easy! I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, a beautiful mess, and they've taken the recipe from Ina Garten.  



Ingredients: 
makes two 8x2 inch round pans 

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee
Preheat oven to 350 F and line pans with parchment paper. Really push the paper around the bottom of the pan to ensure a smooth circle shape. If you wish, you can also then butter the paper (the cake sticks a tiny bit, but wasn't a problem).

By hand or using a mixer with the paddle attachment, mix all the dry ingredients to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Then on slow speed/slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry until you have a smooth batter.

Pour the batter into the parchment lined pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a utensil inserted comes out clean. Let cool on a cooling rack.
note that great frosting spatula, it was my grandmother's! i could just picture her making a layer cake :)
Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting: 
make sure you have room temperature butter, I melted mine too much and my frosting was a little too melty. I also didn't have cream, which probably affected the consistency but it was still ok! 

  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream
Using a standing mixer with whisk or a hand mixers, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more.

To make letters or decoration, simply melt chocolate in a double boiler, put it in a plastic bag to pipe, and  then cool in the refrigerator. I stuck mine outside, it hardened up very fast.

My piping skills are poor, so it was a bit sloppy! Also I used a silpat but wax paper would be better since you'd be able to peel off the letters/decoration more easily. Also any thin bits were very hard to remove, so I recommend keeping it all thick enough so it won't break when removing it. I also made some decorations for around the cake just for an experiment and it looked cute (again, thicker lines will do the trick!) 


the best part - getting to spend time with my amazing mom on her birthday! 

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