This week is the second anniversary of Tuesdays with Dorie, the wonderful baking group that bakes each week out of Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking: From My Home to Yours. I do believe that this group is the primary engine that keeps me blogging, since I am a chronic blog neglector and would probably let this blog wither and die without a weekly “date” with my fellow TWDers. So thank you, LW, for starting the group, thanks to everyone who has become my blogging buddies, and thanks especially to Dorie for writing such an awesome cookbook!
But enough chatter, let’s have some birthday cake!
We had the choice of making an apple tarte tatin (love those!) or a cocoa-buttermilk birthday cake. Um, it’s a birthday, how is this even a choice? Cocoa-buttermilk cake it is!
I knew I wanted to make a wild celebration cake, so I decided early on to go crazy with the colors and decorations. About halfway through decorating the top, the little voice in my head that sounds just like Tim Gunn from Project Runway started questioning that decision.
“Hmmm…Elizabeth…” Tim Gunn Head Voice said, “I’m concerned. That’s a whole lot of color. It could be faaaabulous, or it could be a hot mess.” TGHV was right. It WAS a whole lot of color. What to do?
After I made like Johnny from last season and cried in the corner for a few minutes while regretting giving up crystal meth, I pulled myself together, banished the Tim Gunn voice from my head, and continued to squirt my frosting streamers with abandon. The only thing worse than an over-the-top cake is a cake that’s halfway there but afraid to commit. Go big or go home!
The cake was topped with a party hat made from an ice cream cone, fondant, and buttercream.
I filled the cake with the same vanilla buttercream used to decorate the outside. This decision was made by necessity more than taste–I didn’t have enough chocolate for the outside and two inside layers–but it turned out brilliantly, as the vanilla nicely balanced the chocolate and kept it from being too intense.
The cake itself was awesome. For some reason, I expected it to be sort of a wussy chocolate flavor, since it didn’t have “deep” or “dark” or “mega tunnel of fudge” in the title. But this was actually a really delicious chocolate cake–flavorful, and moist, but with a nice tight crumb so it held its body and layered easily.
I do still think I prefer oil-based chocolate cakes in general, since they don’t dry out as quickly, but for a stable cake that will be eaten in a day or two, this is a great recipe.
I skipped the chocolate malt frosting since some people found it to be gritty and otherwise unappetizing. Instead, I used a nice fudge frosting recipe (found after the jump) that added just the right amount of chocolate flavor and structure.
This was a great way to celebrate two fun, sugar-filled years with the best bakers on the internet. Here’s to another two…or three…or twenty…
14 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks (8 oz) butter, room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole milk
1. Melt chocolates and butter in microwave or over double boiler, stir until smooth. Allow to cool until just warm.
2. Sift powdered sugar and salt into bowl of large mixer.
3. Add milk and vanilla, and mix with whisk attachment until thoroughly mixed and no lumps remain.
4. Add melted chocolate/butter mixture to mixing bowl, mix on medium until smooth.
At this point, you can use it as-is, or you can put it in the fridge to firm up a little–15 or 20 minutes ought to do it. It does get stiff in the refrigerator, so give the frosted cake time to come to room temperature for best taste and texture.