Monday, July 6, 2009
Thirteen years ago today, our lives changed forever. I don't think we ever realized then (I certainly did not) how one little human being could take over our lives so completely and re-arrange all our priorities.
When we were younger, I remember 21 being celebrated as a milestone birthday by many. Traditionally though, birthdays in India (the ones I'm aware of) are not made much of unless it's a 1st birthday, 60th or 81st birthday.
Times have changed, and it seems like a 13th birthday is a bit of a milestone in itself these days. It seems to signify the end of the "birthday party" era and officially opens the door to the teenagehood.
Since today was a working day and a school day for Akshaya, she decided to celebrate her birthday yesterday. She didn't want a party, but chose to have a few of her friends over for tea instead. As the parents of those children happen to be good friends of ours, we ended up having a full house in the evening.
I have never baked a "birthday cake with buttercream/ frosting" for her birthday before simply because frosting and cake decorating isn't one of my strong points. This year Akshaya wanted a chocolate cake with "lots of vanilla buttercream", and a birthday girl should have what she wants (within reason, that is!)
A year of Daring Baker challenges gave me some confidence to try and attempt a layered (2 layers!) cake with frosting/ icing. This also proved to be the perfect opportunity for me to break in my recently acquired cake decorating set.
I used Gianna's Chocolate Cake which I found at Country Living. That cake was decorated with whipped cream but I needed a vanilla buttercream. I found the perfect eggless recipe for this at My Sweet And Saucy, which is from Elizabeth Faulkner's Demolition Desserts.
I used the given recipes makingonly some minor quantity changes in the ingredients for the buttercream. I added 1 tbsp dark cocoa powder to one small portion of the vanilla buttercream as I wanted a colour contrast to the buttercream to decorate the cake.
Here are both the recipes I used.
Gianna's Chocolate Cake:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I used dark)
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup oil
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
Butter the bottoms of two 9-inch (I used 8") round cake pans and fit with two circles of parchment paper. Butter the paper and pan sides and dust with flour. Set aside.
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and maintain.
Combine the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Beat in the oil, milk, eggs and vanilla using a mixer set on medium speed for 2 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and add 1 cup of the boiling water. This cake batter is quite thin compared to usual cake batter, but the cake bakes well.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake at 180C for about 35 to 40 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of each cake comes out clean.
Cool the cakes in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Unmould the cakes and return to the wire rack until completely cool.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice
Cream the butter and salt for 30 seconds with an electric mixer.
Add half the sugar and the milk to the butter and beat till combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and beat till combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, and beat the buttercream for about 5 to 6 minutes till light and fluffy.
Use on the cake as required. This buttercream is apparently best when used the same day, but can keep in the refrigerator for 3 days, if kept in an airtight container.
This recipe makes about 2 cups of buttercream (this was enough for filling, covering and decorating my cake).
Assembling the cake:
This particular cake doesn't rise very much, so you shouldn't need to level the top of the cake. If required, level both the cakes before assembling and decorating.
Place one cake on a cake plate.
Spread a third of the buttercream over the layer. Top with the other cake and spread a thin crumb-coat layer of buttercream over the top and sides of the two layered cake. Now spread most of the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake.
Decorate with the remaining buttercream, as desired. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
This cake is very moist and almost brownie like in texture. It was nice to make a lighter cake with oil instead of butter, especially since the buttercream was rich.
I don't think it would make a very nice cake without the buttercream or whipped cream frosting, but is a delicious cake with the buttercream. The cake also stays soft if you need to refrigerate it before serving. I would recommend refrigerating the cake, especially if you live in warmer climates (like I do) and the buttercream threatens to melt off the cake!
I got rave reviews from every single person who had the cake. If you prefer a less intense chocolate flavour to your cake, use a lighter coca powder.
This cake serves 16 to 20 depending on the size of the servings.