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Your best birthday cake.

Life of Pie Jul 14, 2008 02:03 PM

Hi, I'm ISO your best birthday cake recipe. The person I'm making this for is not a huge frosting fan (Strange I Know..), so I need a cake that tastes amazing on its own. I don't particularly care if it's chocolate or vanilla, or what-have-you, as long as it's amazing. Please help. Thanks.

  1. a
    adventuresinbaking Jul 15, 2008 09:41 AM

    I've had a lot of luck with ganache on the last round of birthday cakes that I did.

    My last ganache recipe that everyone really loved was I steeped an ancho chili and a vanilla bean with some heavy cream and then mixed that with my favorite dark chocolate. It was more like a truffle center than frosting, since I whipped it up a bit, but I think it could make a nice glaze finish.

    1. AlaskaChick Jul 15, 2008 08:50 AM

      I don't like traditional frosting - having spent way too much of my time working with it on wedding cakes and whatnot - its good but too sweet for me. So when I do birthday cakes, I use a couple of options - stabilized whipped cream or white chocolate cream cheese (Cake Bible) or none at all. My favorite birthday cakes to make are Carrot Cake from the Silver Palate - or their banana cake for kids and those who love bananas or I go completely not traditional and make cheesecake - chocolate truffle cheesecake, key lime cheesecake.

      1. k
        katecm Jul 15, 2008 06:49 AM

        For chocolate cake, Ina Garten's chocolate cake is exceptional. A similar cake, though, that works well in a bundt pan (which means you could just do a drizzle of ganache or a dusting of powdered sugar) is chocolate Guinness cake (you can find the recipe easily online).

        As a fellow non-frosting fan, I will say that I prefer cream chesse frostings to buttercreams, so if you do a frosting, considering that.

        For a yellow cake, the following cannot be beat. It's truly wonderful. It comes from Restaurant Eve, an exceptional restaurant in Alexandria, VA, where they make it into miniatures and frost with pink icing and sprinkles. It's always on their dessert menu.

        8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus additional to grease pans

        2 cups sugar

        2 1/2 cups flour

        1 tablespoon baking powder

        1 teaspoon salt

        4 eggs at room temperature

        1 teaspoon vanilla extract

        1 cup milk (may substitute low-fat or nonfat)

        Frosting (recipe follows)

        Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

        Melt butter and let it cool to room temperature.

        Combine the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in the large bowl of a stand mixer. (A stand mixer is preferable for this recipe, though a hand-held electric mixer may be used.) On medium speed, add the butter, incorporating in several additions. Beat for about 2 minutes, or until combined; the texture should resemble cornmeal.

        In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla extract and milk. Add to the flour-butter mixture in two batches (scraping the bowl once), and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until smooth.

        Distribute the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Remove cakes from pans to cool completely. Frost the cake. It can stand at room temperature for 1 hour; otherwise, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

        Serves 12.

        Frosting

        This makes a generous amount of icing, so those with a not-so-sweet tooth may want to reduce the quantities or expect leftovers.

        8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

        2 pounds (7 1/2 -8 cups) confectioners' sugar

        1 teaspoon vanilla extract

        1/2 cup heavy cream, (may substitute whole, low-fat or nonfat milk)

        Food coloring (optional)

        In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until fluffy. On low speed, add the sugar in batches, increasing the speed to high after each addition is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and cream in a steady stream on low speed until incorporated. Add a few drops of food coloring, if desired. (Restaurant Eve uses red to make pink.) Beat on high speed for 8-10 minutes, until light and fluffy.

        1. Emme Jul 15, 2008 12:22 AM

          Definitely don't need frosting on the Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread - and it's better to make ahead so the flavors have time to marry and deepen.

          http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

          1. c
            CoteGal Jul 14, 2008 05:12 PM

            White Chocolate Macadamia Praline Cheesecake

            1. Emmmily Jul 14, 2008 03:43 PM

              From 365 Chocolate Desserts (actually a much better cookbook than the kitchy title would imply). It's nice and moist - probably from the boiling water. I usually ice it with chocolate buttercream, but a drizzle of chocolate glaze or a dusting of powdered sugar would work fine. I also like to add a little almond extract, for a different twist.

              Blackout Cake

              1 ½ sticks (6 oz) butter, softened
              3 cups sugar
              3 eggs
              2 tsp vanilla extract
              4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
              3 cups flour
              3 tsp baking soda
              ½ tsp salt
              ¾ cup buttermilk
              1 1/3 cups boiling water
              chocolate ganache

              Preheat oven to 350º. Grease 3 9-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add chocolate and beat 1-2 min.
              Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to chocolate mixture in 2 additions alternately with the buttermilk. Beat until well blended. With mixer on low speed, add boiling water and beat until smooth. Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans.
              Bake 35-40 min, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 10-15 min, then unmold onto racks and cool completely. Ice with ganache. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

              1. Gooseberry Jul 14, 2008 03:24 PM

                there's a difference between not-a-huge-frosting-fan and a frosting hater. If this person hates frosting, I'd go for a cake which doesn't need any, or just gets a light sifting of icing sugar over the top. Otherwise, something where the frosting isn't a key player.

                The frosting-less cake which comes to mind is the chocolate souffle cake from Gourmet.
                http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
                mine doesn't look like the photo, btw - higher, more cake-like. And I often skip the sauce, it's so good by itself, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on the side (optional). But you MUST make it the day before (not the day of), so the flavours can develop.

                1. z
                  ziggylu Jul 14, 2008 02:16 PM

                  I"m not a big fan of really sweet frostings either. I prefer just some lightly sweetened whipped cream, maybe iwth a little flavor. Anyway, my husband made me this Persian Love Cake http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... the year it was on hte cover of BA. We loved it...we've made it several times since then and always get very favorable comments.

                  This and the coconut lime cake my sister made me this year (sorry don't have her recipe on hand) are the best birthday cakes I've ever had.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ziggylu
                    z
                    ziggylu Jul 14, 2008 04:38 PM

                    Oh, another cake I love is Ina Garten's lemon cake. If your friend likes lemon this could be a winner. No frosting, just a lemon glaze. http://www.oprah.com/foodhome/food/re...

                    I also love the olive oil cake in Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking. I dust it with a bit of confectioner's sugar and serve with macerated berries.

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