Birthday Cake 2


Last weekend I was given quite the baking opportunity: a double birthday in wine country. Still feeling the sting of my semi-successful birthday cake for myself, I knew I wanted to make another attempt. Last time, I learned a lot about the fragility of cake when I broke a layer as I shook it from the pan it was stuck to. The care you have to take is just unreal. You can damage your cake at any stage. As you bake it, transfer it from pan to rack to plate, or frost it. Cake is just so delicate, and it’s perfection is part of its charm.

One of the birthday girls is my girlfriend, so I was eager to bake the cake for this event. They specifically requested a chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. I chose a chocolate layer cake recipe from Rose’s Baking Basics by Rose Levy Beranbaum. The cream cheese frosting was an insanely simple recipe I found online.

I had to adapt to a foreign kitchen in this bake. An AirBnb to be exact. Luckily, I was able to bring a few of my favorite measuring cups, bowls, and a hand mixer. With these trusty utensils by my side I was excited to redeem myself!

New skills

Chocolate cake

I went with a chocolate cake for the first time in this bake. Rose mixes cacao powder and boiling water ahead of time. I’d never seen anyone do that before, but perhaps it’s just my lack of cake experience showing. But chocolate cake is one of the most decadent treats, and is a gateway into a deep world of great bakes that are perfect for lots of events.

Cream cheese frosting

The only other frosting I’ve made was a buttercream, which was quite an ordeal. This frosting was the total opposite. Simple ingredients (powdered sugar, vanilla, cream cheese, butter) and easy to make. I’ll definitely be using this frosting again.

What did I learn?

How to handle cake

My last cake was not entirely successful. I accidentally damaged a layer as I removed it from the pan, and was forced to make a single-layer cake. I was eager to not repeat my mistakes this time around. Plus, with two birthdays on the line the stakes were much higher this time.

I lined the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and liberally applied butter to every inch of the pans that might chance to touch cake. And the layers came out of the pan perfectly!

How’d it eat?

This ended up being a fantastic cake. It had a deep, dark chocolate flavor and was moist. The cream cheese frosting did a perfect job of adding some cream to the cake. I saw the cake completely disappear in two days. First it was served at a double birthday party, and then it was eaten the next morning. Yes, I convinced three people (one being myself) to eat cake for breakfast. That seems like an important measure of success for cake.