chocolate birthday cake

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My first cake! Well, not really but it’s my first three layer cake.  For some reason cake just never won me over.  Pie seems so much more fun and tasty…pie is amazing.  Also, pie has a wonderful crust.  Okay I’m done talking about pie.  Anyways, one day I decided that it would be cool to bake cakes for friends with up coming birthdays.  My friend’s birthday was coming up so I asked her what kinda of cake she likes.  She chose a classic chocolate cake with chocolate icing. From then on I was on the hunt for the best chocolate cake recipe with chocolate icing.

I don’t know if it was the best but I think I did a decent job. After looking through several recipes I finally settled on a dark chocolate cake with a basic chocolate icing.  Dark chocolate cake just seemed right and really yummy.  Looking up recipes is one of my hobbies because I learn so much from them.  For this project, I learned that coffee is a key ingredient that brings out the flavors of chocolate.  I added espresso powder to both the cake and icing.  Neither tasted like coffee but I think it really did help add flavor.

I’m excited to share this with you today because I told myself that if I was going to make a layered cake I was going to do it right.  I splurged a little and bought some equipment that I’ve been wanting to buy for a while like cake pans (I know this is considered a basic baking tin but I just never bought one…maybe that’s why I like pie better…I have two pie tins).  I also bought fun sprinkles and a cake box to deliver it.  I used to have one of those cool cake transporter things but left it in Texas.  I bought it from a rummage sale.  The handle was bright green and one of the sides was melted (probably from someone leaving it near an oven burner).  I appreciated that cake transporter thing.

Hmm…it sounds kind of weird to appreciate something like that but stuff like that means a lot to me…melted parts and all.

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All of the dry ingredients require sifting.  I used to skip this step but I don’t anymore because I think it matters.  I’ve read lots of reasons why it’s important but I don’t want to get all technical.  I’ll just say that lumpy dry ingredients equal a lumpy batter which means your ingredients won’t be fully incorporated.  You can choose.

Also, know that there is a difference between ‘2 cups of flour, sifted’ and ‘2 cups of sifted flour.’ With the former, the flour should be measured first then sifted.  For the latter, the flour should be sifted first then measured.

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I like dark chocolate better than milk chocolate every time.  In elementary school I used to buy my milk for 15 cents every day at school.  The options were regular milk, chocolate milk, and dark chocolate milk….guess which one I always bought.

As you can see, I accidently jammed my thumb into the top left cake….ugh.  It’s not that big of a deal I’m just a little mad at myself for not being more careful.

Also, I completely forgot to take photos of how I made the icing.  It may be because I woke up at 4:30am by myself for no reason and it had slipped my mind. I actually made it the entire day without a nap but finally ended crashing at 9:30pm.  I was pretty proud of myself.

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food art!

Icing this baby was fun.  I used the spatula to create a vertical pattern all the way around the cake.  There is also a big squiggle line for the top.  The bottom part gets kind of messy so that’s why I put a few pieces of wax paper underneath while icing the cake. Once I removed the wax paper, everything looked clean.

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Do you want to know how many attempts it took to get those sprinkles just right?  3.  I tried to actually sprinkle them on but it turns out with larger sprinkles it just doesn’t look good.  You have to place each of them by hand…trust me it just looks better.

Here’s to a happy birthday!

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Dark chocolate cake

adapted recipe from King Arthur’s Flour

2 cups cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk

1/2 water warm water

1 tablespoon of espresso powder

4 large eggs

Preheat 350 degrees F. Prepare you pans by lining them with parchment.  I used three 8″ round pans.

Place a strainer over a large mixing bowl. Measure in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and sugar. Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl to eliminate any lumps.

Add the butter and mix at a low speed for about 1 minute then add the oil.  Continue to mix until it looks like sand.

Dissolve the espresso powder into the warm water.  Combine the coffee, vanilla and milk together.  Add it all at one time and mix at a low speed.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add eggs once at a time and mix at medium high speed.  Make sure to fully incorporate the egg before added another.  The batter will be thin.

Pour batter into a prepared pan.  Since I used 8″ round pans I baked the cakes for 24 min.  Test the cake by inserting a toothpick in the center.  If it comes out clean, then it is done and remove from the oven.  Place on a rack to completely cool before frosting.

Chocolate Icing

recipe from Ina Garten

6 ounces semisweet chocolate

1 cup butter (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl.  You can use a double boiler method to melt the chocolate but I just used the microwave and checked it constantly to make sure it didn’t burn.  Set aside until it’s cooled to room temperature.

I used a stand mixer for this recipe.  In a large bowl, mix the butter until light yellow and fluffy, approximately 3 min. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue to mix for an additional 3 min.  Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add the confectioner’s sugar.  Once all the sugar is incorporated mix at a medium speed, scrap down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Continue to mix until smooth and creamy.  Dissolve the espresso powder in 2 teaspoons of hot tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Do not whip the mixture.  Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

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