Happy Birthday Ashley Cake

Friday was my good pal Ashley’s birthday. I’m a strong believer in dessert, especially on one’s birthday. YOU NEED TO EAT CAKE ON YOUR BIRTHDAY!

I get Real Simple in the mail every month (thank you Brett! this was a great present!!!). The may edition had an easy breakdown of the two basic cake flavors: yellow and chocolate. Their recipe could be used for  layer cakes, sheet cakes, AND  cupcakes. They next give a a chocolate and vanilla frosting recipe, which can be made into different variations like lemon, caramel, and coffee frosting (I have to admit that I couldn’t bring myself to use their recipe because it called for FOUR sticks of butter for the vanilla frosting. No way jose). They then gave cake filling, and topping tips as well. Great article, pretty pictures..check it out!!

When I think if birthday cake, bright white frosting, and sprinkles always come to mind, so I made a chocolate cake using Real Simple’s recipe for Chocolate cake and vanilla frosting:

Chocolate Cake Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan(s)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, spooned and leveled, plus more for the pan(s) (when making chocolate cake you want to dust with cocoa powder instead of flour to avoid getting white marks on your chocolate cake!)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Butter the pan(s), line the bottoms with parchment, butter again, and dust with cocoa, tapping out the excess. (For cupcakes, there is no need for parchment or rebuttering.) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  3. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until combined (do not overmix).
  4. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan(s) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (see baking times, below). Cool the cake(s) in the pan(s) for 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack(s) to cool completely.
  5. Baking times: For two 8-inch rounds: 30 to 35 minutes. For two 9-inch rounds: 25 to 30 minutes. For one 9-by-13-inch rectangle: 35 to 40 minutes. For 24 cupcakes: 20 to 25 minutes.
I only have one baking round to make cakes like this. I was impatient and didn’t let my first layer cool enough and it split like this. 

I was a little more patient with the second layer.

While the cakes were cooling I made a simple frosting to frost the middle and outside of the cake with:

VANILLA FROSTING RECIPE

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons whole milk

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt. Beat on low speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then increase speed to medium high and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop mixer, add the vanilla and milk, then continue beating 3 minutes on medium high on a stand mixer, or 5 minutes on a handheld mixer.

I then began frosting. Magazines and cooking shows make cake decorating seem so easy. It’s really not. Its frustrating, and requires a LOT O F PATIENCE.

 I tucked parchment paper under the cake so that it would catch any spills or sprinkles that fell off under the cake and frosted the bottom layer of the cake. I thought it would be fun to have vanilla and sprinkles on the inside, however due to the heat of my kitchen and my impatience with letting the cakes cool, the sprinkles and frosting on this layer turned chocolate. This layer of frosting tasted great, however I didn’t get the look I was going for.

Second layer:

It took a LOT of frosting to cover this cake and fill in the gaps in between the layers. I did it after a lot of spreading, filling, smoothing, etc. I took spoonfuls of sprinkles and put them around the edge of the cake. Warning: I got sprinkles ALL OVER MY APARTMENT doing this. The magazine told me to put sprinkles in the palms of my hand, but when I tried this I just ended up with a handful of frosting. If you know a better way to do this…let me know!

Heres the finished product before we sliced into it:

Then we sliced into it after singing ashley a very formal happy birthday song…

If your birthday is coming up and you have any requests ….let me know!!

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