Friday, October 5, 2012

From the Kitchen: Belated Birthday Cake

This cake was right on time, it’s just the post that’s belated, luckily! My little baby girl - my first bundle of joy (and also of trouble) - turned 8. Eight. EIGHT, people! How did that happen? Goodness the time flies when you’re incredibly busy having fun :) She requested a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. Initially she hoped it would have a prehistoric shark-like creature on it (she was very specific, but I forget the name now), but ultimately we settled on a cake that “looks nice” with purple icing. OK, I can do that.


My older sister gave me a book this past year, 100 Cakes and Bakes, written by longtime British baking personality Mary Berry. I really wasn’t aware of her existence prior to reading the book, surprising because she has published over 70 cookbooks, but she’s got a very impressive history (studied at Le Cordon Bleu, judges on various cooking shows on the BBC and generally has kicked culinary derrière for decades). I accept her baking authority.

Anyway… I decided to try the Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake (pg. 24). Mmmm. I encountered a few hang-ups on the way, but overall, it was delicious. First issue was that the book, being of UK origin, was in metric measurements. So there was some deciphering of weight-to-volume measurements. The second issue was of overall quantity. I needed to feed 12, but one recipe of this cake essentially made two 9” pancakes. The recipe called for 8” pans, but I had 9”, so that’s what I used. They were about 3/4” high. So I baked another recipe after my pans had cooked and ended up with 4 thin layers. The final issue was that I used vanilla Bettercreme for the icing. Bettercreme is a bakery-type frosting and filling that last without refrigeration and is wonderful to pipe, but it just wasn’t the taste that anyone really wanted with this cake. Next time, butter cream.

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Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake (recipe for 9” 4-layer cake, as I made it; altered to US measurements)


1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted

3/4 cup boiling water

6 large eggs

4 oz milk

1 1/2 cup self-raising flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 cup butter, softened

2 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. prepare 4 9” cake pans by greasing them, then placing a round of parchment paper in the bottom. If you don’t have 4 9” pans (who does?), you can make this in two half-size batches.

Mix cocoa and boiling water in large bowl until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and beat until it is a homogeneous, thickish batter. Divide mixture between pans and tap to level the batter.

Baking time might vary, so keep an eye on these. Bake 15-25 minutes, until they are risen and the top springs back when pressed with fingers. Cool in pans several minutes, then flip onto cooling rack, peeling off parchment paper (it’ll get soggy if you don’t). Allow to cool completely. May be frozen prior to icing, just seal well in a container with something between layers to prevent them freezing together.

Ice and stack as desired! Delicious with ice cream, just like cake should be.


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