I know. I know. Less cake, more baby, right? But here’s the thing. I’m still a little in shock over how that whole birthing experience went down, and I can’t exactly write about it until I’ve had some time to process. So until then, you get cake.
(You’re not really disappointed at all, are you?)
Last week, while waiting for Margot to FINALLY JUST BE BORN ALREADY, I asked Mila if we should make a cake. “Birthday cake! Yum!” she responded enthusiastically. So, hoping maybe a “birth day” cake would lure the beastie out–or, failing that, if I ate enough of it, I’d force her out because I was so dang full of cake there’d be no room left for her–we got to baking.
The cake was not at all effective at bringing on labor. It was, however, dang delicious. David told me, “If I close my eyes and take a bite, it’s easy to imagine it’s from Cheesecake Factory,” which I’m going to take as a compliment, since CF has pretty stellar desserts.
The cake, ganache, and assembly instructions are straight from Bakerella, although I used a different frosting recipe than she provides. I’m not a huge fan of the standard butter-and-powdered-sugar stuff, so I figured I’d try something else. It was perfect–extremely creamy and vanilla-y but it didn’t steal the spotlight like some frostings do–and I fully intend to use the recipe again soon. If you prefer a simpler buttercream, though, click over for Bakerella’s recipe.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup hot water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of two 9-inch cake pans. Then place parchment paper cut to size on the bottom of each pan and grease paper. Dust pans with cocoa.
Whisk dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, oil, milk and vanilla and beat for a couple of minutes until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add hot water and mix together. Batter will be very liquid.
Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 28-30 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Dreamy Vanilla Frosting
from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half or whole milk (I used milk, BTW)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
Sift the flour into a small saucepan. Whisk 1/4 cup of the milk into the flour until smooth. Whisk in the remaining milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly. Simmer for about 30 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it begins to thicken and becomes a paste. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface and cool to room temperature. (Refrigerating for 20 minutes speeds things up considerably.)
Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt with a stand mixer on high until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Scrape the bowl as needed. Add the cooled milk mixture to the bowl and beat until fluffy and light (3 to 5 minutes). Add vanilla and beat to combine.
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
Heat cream and butter in a saucepan until melted and remove before it starts to boil. Place chocolate morsels in a small bowl and pour cream on top. Let sit for a few seconds and whisk by hand until completely incorporated
and smooth. Let cool until thick and pourable. The ganache can take a bit to thicken. You can make it before the frosting, to save time. Just use a wire whisk to stir it every few minutes and keep it smooth.
To assemble: trim tops off of cake layers with a long serrated knife so they have a nice, flat top. (Mine were flat enough that I skipped this step.) Place one layer bottom side up on cake stand. Mix about 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips with about 1 cup of the frosting. Spread frosting on top of bottom layer. Place second layer on top. It
helps to have a crumb coat on the outside of your cake first. Simply apply a thin coat of frosting to the entire cake to catch any excess crumbs. Then place cake in freezer for a few minutes to firm up frosting and cover the entire cake again with a thick layer of frosting. This will help you keep all those crumbs from getting caught in your pretty
work. Slowly, pour ganache over center of cake. Pour just enough to start dripping down the sides.