First Order of Business

H Birthday Cake

It’s the boy’s birthday last weekend and this year, he requested a chocolate cake, a simple classic chocolate cake. It’s unusual of him since in the past he’s asked pear tart, raspberry tart, etc. He didn’t want chocolate tart or chocolate brownie cheesecake either. He wanted a chocolate birthday cake. A. Birthday. Cake.

I never gave much thought that a birthday cake would be different, besides the fact that it would be fancier. But I think I understand now.. a birthday cake would typically have 2 or more layers. Icing all around it. The simplest cake is sometimes the best, because you want to enjoy the cake (as in eat it) and not just gawking over it. You want one that you can eat again and again (when else will you truly indulge?) and not turn sick after a slice. The last bite tasting as good as the first..

So I decided to try this recipe. And I’m pretty pleased with it. In fact, I’m having my second slice as I type this.

(source: Add A Pinch)

Cake Batter
2 C all-purpose flour
2 C white sugar
3/4 C cocoa powder, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp espresso powder (see note below)
1 C milk, room temperature
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 C boiling water

Chocolate Frosting
340 gr (3 sticks) butter, room temperature/ soft
1 C cocoa powder, sifted
5 C icing sugar, sifted
1/2 C milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp espresso powder (see note below)

  • Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F). Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.
  • [Making the cake batter] In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, sift in flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt & espresso powder. Mix well.
  • Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed to low and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  • Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before using.
  • [Making the Chocolate Butter Frosting] Add in the soft butter to a large bowl or bowl of your stand mixer and sift in the cocoa powder. Cream on medium speed until well mix.
  • Working in batches, sift in 1 C icing sugar and 1 tbsp of milk. Turn the mixer back on, slow speed, and cream until well mixed, then turn to high speed for about 1 min. Repeat until you have added 5 C icing sugar and 5 tbsp of milk. You’d have an extra of 1 tbsp of milk by now, add that in too.
  • Add the vanilla extract & espresso powder, and mix well. Stop once in a while to spoon in those frosting on the sides.
  • If the frosting looks too dry, add more milk (by the tablespoon). If it’s too wet, add in a little of icing sugar until you have the right consistency.
  • [To Assemble] Unmold your cake one by one. Using bread/ serrated knife, carve off any extra cake so they will have a stable top & bottom. Place one cake on your cake stand or large plate, and lather about 1/3 of icing for the middle part. Carefully place the top cake (after shaping it) and cover with with the rest of icing. Decorate as you wish. Leave the icing to solidify a little before serving.

~ I didn’t use enough icing on the middle layer, as a result I had plenty of extra icing. In fact, I think I didn’t apply enough icing all over.. the 5 cups of icing sugar got the better part of me.
~ I found the chocolate frosting is a bit gritty. I think sifting it before creaming it with butter would help smoothen it.
~ If you don’t have expresso powder, you can use instant coffee (1.5 x quantity recommended for espresso powder). Just note, you will have to either dilute it in the liquid or pound it to smoothen it. I used the powder from espresso capsules (as in Nespresso capsules).

H Birthday Cake 02


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