Quite often people ask me for a good birthday cake recipe. I often refer them towards my trusty crowd pleasing chocolate cake recipe. It's moist, keeps for days and can be smothered in either buttercream or ganache to produce excellent results.
I was still slightly disappointed though when Dad requested a chocolate cake for his 50th birthday. I was psyching myself up for some epic creation with all the bells and whistles. But no, he wanted chocolate with white chocolate buttercream.
This is the same sort of cake I made for my best friend's wedding cake last year. That recipe can be kind of difficult to decipher and figure out what you need to do for just a single three layer 20cm cake, so I am going to post this again for those of you requiring something more of the birthday persuasion and portion.
I iced up this creation the morning of Dad's birthday right before we went out for lunch. The same morning after our flat threw a raging flat party. So after gathering up the remaining bottles and post-town snack remains and running on single digit sleep I proceeded to mess up the kitchen again by coating it in a thick coating of sticky icing.
Oh yeah this is me and my Dad. He is great. I bet he is better than your Dad.
You can ice this will all the frilly piping techniques your heart desires but this time I decided that for a 50 year old male, pink glittery petals probably wasn't going to be the most masculine of designs. Remember when making a cake with a smooth finish always do a crumb coat and to let that set properly before you start smearing over the top coat. This stops the top coat from ripping up that base layer and creating a right old mess. For a good guided how-to check out The Whisk Kid's guide here. The idea of a crumb coat is to seal in all the loose crumbs so that they don't get swirled into the top layer of icing.
To do the ombre effect, roughly smudge on the icings of different colours (see the photo) in rings around the cake. Then take a hot bench scraper or palate knife and in one (or three) foul swoops blend it all into one. The best thing about this type of icing technique is that it is allowed to be messy. In fact, I prefer to be able to see all the spatula marks and often try and add some extra just for effect. If in doubt, just google :)
This recipe makes enough for three 20cm cake layers. It gives a good cake height, perfect for that dramatic birthday effect. The best thing about this cake is that it is super moist and keeps for days in an airtight container. This means that if you are sad and make your own birthday cake and have it all to yourself, you can pace yourself over at least a half a week.
Super Moist Chocolate Birthday Cake
Makes 1 x three layer chocolate cake
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup sunflower oil
1 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cocoa
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups strong black coffee
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees on bake and line and grease three 20cm sandwich cake tins.
In a cake mixer or with an electric beater, mix together the eggs and the sugar. Add in the oil then the milk, yoghurt and vanilla. Make sure your scrape down the sides. Sieve in the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat until smooth. Carefully add in the coffee and mix on a low speed until a smooth and sloppy batter is produced.
Evenly split the batter between the three cake tins. I use a set of digital scales to help with this.
Bake the cakes for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Check at 35 minutes to make sure nothing cray is happening in the oven and rotate the cakes if they are on different levels.
Leave the cakes to cool for 20 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Often I make my cakes the day before I want to ice them.
White Chocolate Buttercream
Makes enough for a 1 x 3 layer 20cm cake
200g white eating chocolate
1/3 cup full fat milk
1 1/2 kg icing sugar
100g butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
a few splashes of milk
In a small saucepan, heat the half cup of milk until just below a simmer. Break up the chocolate into pieces and then let it sit in the hot milk for a minute before whisking the mixture smooth. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely (again I often do this the night before I want to ice the cake).
Cream together the butter, vanilla and a third of the icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add portions of icing sugar along with sloshes of the white chocolate milk beating well until all the icing sugar and chocolate milk has been incorporated. Beat until really light and fluffy. Add a splash more milk or a scoop more icing sugar if the mixture is too stiff or sloppy (it should be able to form smooth stiff peaks).
Take your cooled cakes and level off the tops with a cake leveller or a serrated knife. Start layer the cakes, gluing them together with a good scoop of icing between each one. When you place the last cake on the top, make sure you place it bottom up, so you get a nice smooth and flat surface with sharp edges. Crumb coat the outside of the cake and leave to set (you may need to pop the whole thing in the fridge depending on your kitchen temperature. Remember the crumb coat is a very thin layer and shouldn't use that much icing.
Once the crumb coat is set, ice it in whatever colour and pattern you like. To do the ombre effect just split the remaining icing and colour it separately. A really good video on how to do this is here.
Now your cake it all ready! So go on, make someones birthday and surprise them with your excellent creation!