Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Erika's Birthday Cake

Every year as we approach Erika's birthday there is a debate, or discussion, as to whether or not Erika should be making her own cake. She doesn't see anything wrong with it and I just think its weird for her to be making her own cake. This year I convinced her that I should be making her cake. Now I am not exactly a kitchen dweller. I'll hang out to get a bite or something, but outside of breakfast foods and grilling I don't do much with cooking. But, hey, you bake a cake don't you?

The recipe is out of a cookbook put out by our church years ago. This recipe just happens to be from my father-in-law. 

The Perfect Chocolate Cake

I would never have thought that a cake required so much!

2 c boiling water
1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c butter, softened
2 1/2 c granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

4 (2 oz each) bars white baking chocolate, chopped     
2 c heavy cream

1 (12 oz) pkg semi-sweet chocolate                  1 c butter
1/2 c half and half                                                1 (1 lb) box confectioner's sugar

1. Make Cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. In medium bowl, gradually stir boiling water into cocoa until blended. Set aside to cool completely.  
    On sheet of waxed paper, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In large bowl of electric mixer, at high speed, beat butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addiction. Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour mixture (in fourths) alternately with cocoa mixture (in thirds), beginning and ending with flour, beating each addition just until blended. Pour batter into prepared pans; bake 25 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center of cake layers comes out clean. Cool layers in pans 10 minutes; remove and cool on wire racks.

2. Make Filling: In top of double boiler placed over hot, not boiling, water combine white chocolate with 1/2 cup heavy cream. Heat, stirring until chocolate melts and is smooth. Remove from heat; pour into large bowl of electric mixer. Stir in remaining heavy cream; refrigerate until cold. Beat mixture until filling is light and fluffy. Spread between cooled cake layers.

3. Make Frosting: In medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine chocolate pieces, half and half, and butter. Cook, stirring until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl; with portable electric mixer, at high speed, beat in confectioner's sugar. Place bowl in larger bowl of ice and water and at high speed, beat until frosting is firm enough to spread. With metal spatula, frost top and sides of cake. Refrigerate cake until serving.

Okay, first off when I said "I" wanted to make her cake I was assuming we were talking about a box and jar that wouldn't be too difficult. Not half the pantry and four hours of reading the recipe and asking for advice from a woman just itching to take over. And of course I had to have the kids help me.

This was Alyssa's first egg. No shell!
The mixing of the cake and frosting went fairly uneventful as far as mistakes. Alyssa got to crack her first egg and there was no shell in the bowl. I gave Jake a taste of the chocolate for the cake before it was sweetened. That's a good practical joke for your kids. Maybe I'm not as fun as mommy or I just don't go as fast, but it didn't take long for the kids to get distracted from helping me and I was left alone. And that is when it started going down hill.

While the cake layers were in the oven I started  the filling per the directions, although without the double boiler. Melt the chocolate with some of the cream and then mix in the rest of the cream and refrigerate until stiff. Two hours later it was still as soupy as when it went in. So upon the advice of my ever so knowledgeable wife I whipped it. (The recipe has been changed to show this advice.) It was crazy, but it started to stiffen. Even crazier is when it began to curdle. Come to find out if you whip heavy whipping cream too long it will begin the process of becoming butter. Well, I started making white chocolate butter. So, I went back to the store and bought more white chocolate and heavy cream and tried again. Only this time I skipped the refrigerate part and made it to the curdled point in like thirty seconds instead of sixty. It turns out cream whips better when it's cold. We finally got our filling the next day after another trip to the store and our live in baker, Erika, did the whipping.
The nice Ghirardelli bar that went to waste

White chocolate butter, almost.
The way it should turn out.
 At some point in the middle of this mess of a filling I took the cake layers out of the oven and let them cool to long. Thus causing them to stick to the pans slightly.

The frosting was something I had done before so it was uneventful for me, but after it sat in the fridge overnight Erika had a little trouble making it spreadable for the cake. Yes, I must admit that Erika did finish this cake but I gave it my best effort. I did enjoy making and would more than willing to "help" Erika with some other baking. I'm just not sure if I'm up to doing a whole lot on my own just yet. And anyway she loves it and thrives on it. Might as well let her do what she loves and allow her to make her own birthday cake from now on.

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  1. You did great! The cake was delicious! I still think you messed up on purpose so I would feel needed.

  2. It was delicious! Leighton, you did great just for attempting a cake like this for you first time "cake from scratch".

  3. Great job, Leighton!! Makes me want to try!