My birthdays were always celebrated very grandly. It wouldn’t be my birthday if I didn’t hand make my invitations (Later on PowerPoint and lazily colored on), go to invite all my friends personally and had many gifts (Mostly just Barbie dolls, which I still have.). But they were the event of the year. I had my outfit planned days in advance. On more than one occasion, I wore matching accessories from head to toe.
And of course, one of the most important parts of any birthday, the cake. The joy of that moment – cutting your birthday cake, surrounded by friends and family, singing the Birthday Song (Or if your friends find that too boring – Tum Jiyo Hazaron Saal, Happy Birthday to You!), it was the best, wasn’t it?
Well, no. Not for me. I didn’t like the cake cutting that much. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it. It’s just not my first favorite thing about birthdays. Probably the second most favorite thing. Or third (Err, the gifts?).
Why would I enjoy all my favorite people surrounding me and singing a song for me MORE than all my favorite people eating CAKE with me? That too, cake which is dedicated to me inching closer to my wiser(?) years!
That being said, it is sad that I don’t actually have a lot of memories of how my cakes were. They were mostly store-bought. There was a rare occasion that my mom would actually bake one at home. But that was kept aside for me to have after the parties, all for myself. Oh, I do like my cake.
Cake is important. It should be remembered. That is why I decided to make my mom’s sharing of birthday cake with her friends special a few days ago. And for the 50th birthday, on top of that! Also, that it’s just an excuse to make cakes!
The day OF the birthday, disaster struck when I tried to bake a grand Red Velvet cake with a Cream Cheese frosting. It was not my day, I couldn’t get anything right. 2 failed trials of cake layers not baked at the center. Hence, the birth to my new fear of the Red Velvet (And I have made some great Red Velvet cupcakes before!). I let it go for the day. We would just have to buy a cake from outside. There was another party later that week and I could definitely try to make it again. (My mother had THREE birthday parties!)
But then I decided to stick to a fool-proof recipe, that I have made about 2-3 times before. It’s a simple vanilla layer cake with a dense crumb. My mother is just not fussy that way. The last time I made it, I used pure homemade vanilla essence. Unfortunately I didn’t have any on hand, so I just used the store bought one.
I’d been wanting to try icing Rosettes on a cake, so I definitely had to do that. And then there had to be chocolate.
The cake layer recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, it’s a lovely cake. I needed a more stiffer frosting. This recipe was perfect, but I was sure I would need more because of the rosettes. So I multiplied all the quantities by 1.5. Here is a great tutorial for rosettes. Unfortunately, I only noticed that my icing tip wasn’t appropriate after I put it on the pastry bag. So I just used whatever I thought was closest. It turned okay, didn’t it?
- For the cake
- 4 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (If using Amul butter, skip the salt)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken (I took 2 cups of milk and stirred in 2 tablespoons of vinegar, let it stand for 10 mins)
- For the buttercream
- 1.5 cups unsalted butter, softened not melted. (Amul butter will work perfectly fine with this, just skip the salt)
- 5 cups icing sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 tablespoons heavy cream
Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. Sprinkle the pan with flour and shake it about so that it coats the butter. Turn the pan over the sink to shake out the excess.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined. Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated. I like to alternate the additions of buttermilk and flour mixture.
Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (I forgot to do this and there were these 5mm voids in my cake!) Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.
Make the frosting: Cream butter for a few minutes in a stand or hand mixer. Turn off the mixer. Sift icing sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.
Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer on a cake board or platter. Tucking scraps of waxed paper under the edges of the cake will protect the board or plate from any mess created while frosting the cake. Spread about 3/4th cup frosting over the layer, spreading it to the edge. Add the second layer (Bottom of the layer should be on the upside). Frost the top and sides of cake with another 3/4 cup. As you can see, I used these chocolate flute wafers on the side after the first layer of frosting. Fortunately, the ones I bought were the exact height of the cake (Meant to be!). You can cut them, should you choose to use the same decoration, although I am not sure how easy they are to cut. Make your rosettes and top with any sprinkles.