Monday, January 04, 2010

Faaaaaaaabulous Birthday Cake for TWD!

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...

Fudge Frosting

14 oz bittersweet chocolate
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 sticks (8 oz) butter, room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
pinch salt
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.


  1. i am so mesmerized by your frosting! gonna steal this recipe.
    also, could u give me the white frosting recipe that you used to fill the cake? it looks lush!

  2. I think you have one of the best presentations so far! Absolutely darling!!! Glad you liked it! Me, not so much so.

  3. Thats one hot mess Id like to dig into, no need to cut a slice, Ill just use a fork. :)

    So glad TWD keeps you blogging Liz. It does the same thing for me, though on several occasions I have cursed TWDs name and wished I had never started it, because the lazy procrastinator in me would like to take control, I am always glad when it sucks me back in. Vowing to do better this year with twice a month. We need to stick it out till the end! Thanks for baking along with me. It keeps me accountable. ;) xo

  4. oh, Liz, what a fun cake!! Good call on skipping the frosting- mine was grainy, too. Great job!

  5. Boy, that is QUITE the frosting! You did awesome, since the chocolate looks like fondant to me! I LOVE the color, you're right--go big, or go home!
    Since I, along with a lot of other people, thought the cake was a bit dry, what did you do different?

    Having a giveaway on my blog!

  6. I love the frosting. I think it is perfectly festive. I want some. I wish I could decorate like that.

  7. My vote for the prettiest cake I've seen yet..Love it!
    I made the tart and it's u-g-l-y!

  8. Wow...that is beautiful...Tim Gunn would be impressed!

  9. Your cake looks fantabulous!! I'm in the Go Big or Go Home camp, so I totally love it.

  10. Wow, you really outdid yourself here - love it!! The cake is gorgeous! I went the cake route too (well, cupcakes) and thought it was yummy.

  11. What a FUN cake! The tarte Tatin was delicious, but a little homely. I'm glad you ignore TGHV and forged on to a beautiful cake!

  12. It. Is. Beautiful. Love all the streamers. Just the right touch.

  13. I love your cake! LOVE IT! So pretty and I'm so glad you went big on the frosting streamers. And the two flavors of frosting...yum!

  14. All I want to do with the cake is stare to it! I like the color and the design! I don't think I can eat it!
    wood baby crib

  15. Wowee! Love it Liz, it is so perfect. That fudge frosting sounds perfect too, I'm definitely giving it a go, and soon (like this weekend soon) :)

  16. The cake looks great, Liz. You don't need to worry about anything. The frosting looks great... Bookmarked!