Friday, June 8, 2012

Birthday Cake

My eldest son turned 9 in the middle of April. It used to be that I would make carrot cake on every single birthday, but now that my kids are a bit older, I let them choose their flavour of cake, and I also let them decorate their own cakes. So as we were getting ready for his big day, I asked the age old question. His response (boy after my own heart), was chocolate.

I pulled out the tried and trusted Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that used to be my Mom’s. It is tattered and torn and full of amazing memories. Each section is tabbed so you can easily locate the type of recipe you seek. At the beginning of each tabbed section is a double page photo spread with sample photos of the recipes inside. I will never, ever forget that Section 9 is for cookies. My brother and I used to look at the photos on these pages a lot. And imagine our Mom making them for us. I don’t think we ever got to try all of them but I can personally vouch for the deliciousness of many of the cookie recipes in this book.

But I digress. We are here to talk about birthday cake.

So I selected a recipe from this book that I have made many times in the past. It is for a basic chocolate cake. For the icing, Noah wanted vanilla. But I decided to make the inside layer of icing chocolate cream cheese, just for fun. He didn’t object.

We made the cake together, as well as the icing - which I personally think adds to the fun of the event, and keeps my kids interested in learning more about cooking and baking. They love measuring things, and manning the mixer. Even though it can get very messy, and sometimes, as in this case, the end product doesn't look very "gourmet", I love every minute of it and so do they.

The King of Soup and I iced the cake when the kids were in bed, and the next morning I let them have at ‘er to decorate it. It was delicious, and let's just say...very colourful.

2/3 cup soft butter or margarine
1 ¾ cups sugar (I cut this to 1 cup and it still tastes very sweet)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 ½ 1 ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 ½ cups sifted cake flour (I use all purpose flour)
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (the recipe doesn’t call for this – I add it for extra fudgey goodness)
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ¾ cups ice water

Quoting directly from the book:

“Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla till fluffy (beat 5 minutes at high speed on mixer, scraping bowl occasionally to guide batter into beaters, or beat 5 minutes by hand (Editor’s note: yeah right - could anyone beat by hand for 5 minutes?). Blend in chocolate.


Sift flour with soda and salt (Editor’s Note: add cocoa powder at this point as well); add to creamed mixture alternatively with ice water; beat after each addition.

Bake in 2 paper-lined 9x11 ½ inch round pans in moderate oven (350o) 30 – to 35 minutes or till done. “

As you can see, I didn't line the pans with paper. I sprayed them with cooking spray instead and it worked just fine.

Remove cakes from the oven when a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack for about 2 minutes, then turn each pan over to release the cake. Let cool completely on wire rack.

Note: Don’t try to ice the cake until it is completely cooled or you will end up with icing soup.


Vanilla Icing:
1/3 cup butter
4 ½ cups sifted icing sugar
¼ cup milk
1 ½ tsp vanilla
Additional milk as required

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add vanilla and milk. Cream together until of desired consistency.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing:
2 oz light cream cheese
1 tbsp butter
1 ½ cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch salt

Cream the cream cheese, butter and sugar together. Add the cocoa powder. Add the vanilla and the salt. Cream together until of desired consistency.

Have fun singing!!!