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The Perfect Birthday Cake

October to November is birthday month hell for me, with the birthdays of 7 family members and close friends approaching, and I am always on the look-out for good birthday cake ideas. Last year I made this cake that I found on Epicurious

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

It was a success, but I would like to try something else this year. What are your suggestions for the perfect birthday cake?

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  1. I love cakes and would have the hardest time narrowing down the "perfect" cake. Some ideas, for a basic cake, Restaurant Eve's not your birthday cake is excellent:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

    An unusual favorite is the Elvis cake, posted here by Krissywats:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/438182

    My kids often ask for Tres Leches cake which is one always like.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      Can you elaborate on the Restaurant Eve's cake? What effect does the melted butter have? What kind of texture is it ie) fluffy or dense or tight or loose crumb? why do you like it?

      1. re: toutefrite

        It's dense and has tight crumbs which is why I like it. I don't care for airy cakes as much. I like the Best Recipe's yellow cake, too. Hard call between the two. It's not a super sweet cake but a little sweeter than Best Recipe. The melted butter makes it easier to coat the dry ingredients. The Best Recipe uses room temperature butter. I've never compared them side to side, though. And, I haven't tried the Restaurant Eve cake w/out melting the butter to see what the effect would be.

    2. If you're not married to chocolate, Dorrie Greenspan has a terrific one in her book, Baking, called "Perfect Party Cake". It's four lemon-y layers of white cake, separated by lemon buttercream and raspberry jam, frosted with buttercream and then finished with a dusting of coconut. For another good chocolate one, I've made this one:
      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
      from Epicurious.

      2 Replies
      1. re: EllenMM

        I was eyeing the cover cake in the Dorrie Greenspan book, particularly after I noticed that the icing was not whipped cream, which I find doesn't really hold up. For my son, the best thing about birthday cake is having it for breakfast for a few days after the birthday, and whipped cream isn't as stable as other frostings, I think. The Elvis Cake as mentioned by chowser is out in my house due to the fact that my husband despises bananas, but I am going to take a look at res leches cake, which I assume is kind of a caramel cake...

        1. re: roxlet

          No caramel. You're probably thinking of dulce de leche. This is three milks. Here's a recent thread.
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/554472

      2. The last birthday cake I made is now my ultimate favourite... moist banana cake layered and topped with dark chocolate ganache... devine! Let me know if you want the recipe :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: Finsmom

          Thanks for the thought, Finsmom, but my husband despises bananas so I never use them in dessert that is for the whole family. And it would be too cruel to make his b'day cake with bananas!!!

        2. Strawberries and Whipped Cream Cake

          INGREDIENTS:
          1 cup butter
          1 1/4 cups milk
          4 eggs
          1/2 teaspoon salt
          2 cups white sugar
          2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
          2 teaspoons baking soda
          1 teaspoon vanilla extract
          2 quarts fresh strawberries,
          halved lengthwise
           
          2 (8 ounce) packages cream
          cheese, at room temperature
          1/2 cup white sugar
          1 teaspoon vanilla extract
          1/8 teaspoon salt
          2 cups heavy cream

          DIRECTIONS:
          1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch tube pan.
          2. In a small saucepan, combine the butter and milk. Warm until butter has melted, but do not boil. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 cups sugar. Stir in the warmed milk and butter and vanilla. Combine the flour and baking soda; stir into the batter just until blended. Pour into the prepared pan.
          3. Bake for 55 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted into the crown of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
          4. In a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat at medium speed until smooth. Pour the heavy cream in a slow steady stream while the mixture is whipping until the mixture has fluffed up and can hold a stiff peak. Don't let it get grainy looking though. Scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula occasionally to remove any lumps.
          5. Slice the cooled cake horizontally into three layers. Arrange strawberries on the bottom layer with the top ends facing outward. Fill in the remaining space with more berries. Spoon some of the whipped cream over the berries and spread evenly. Place another layer of cake on top and repeat the process. Place the top layer on the cake and cover with the remaining cream. Arrange remaining berries over the cream.

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          I also love ice box cake which layers graham crackers with vanilla & chocolate pudding into a super simple but delicious dessert.

          Or

          the whipped cream and dark chocolate wafer cookies layered into a mile high but light cake.

          1 Reply
          1. re: HillJ

            If coconut is your passion, this cake covers beautifully with coconut flakes.

          2. does he like pb?
            for traditional layer cakes, the cook's illustrated white cake and dorie's perfect party cake get really high reviews. the epicurious apple layer cake with caramel frosting also gets high reviews on that site.

            for something untraditional:
            http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/08/cho...

            3 Replies
            1. re: midtownDiner123

              The apple layer cake with caramel frosting sounds great - but I can't seem to find an apple layer cake on Epicurious. Can you point us to it?

              1. re: MrsCris

                Mrscris- my error! you probably can't find the cake on epicurious bc it doesn't exist - i confused my recipe w/theirs! here's the cake i meant to refer to: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                BUT, if you want to do what i was describing... i made an apple cake similar to what i described. i followed a recipe for the apple cake similar to the epicurious one but w/o the walnuts and currants. i went with a caramel frosting and you can refer to this link for a wide range of caramel frostings: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/560362

                fyi, in the end i went with betty crocker recipe. i really liked it but for whatever reason i added a lot of milk to get the consistency i wanted. i also topped my cake with toasted caramelized walnuts. (i wouldn't rec the recipe for those but the concept was a good one!

                )

                it was my first cake and it was amazing!

                1. re: midtownDiner123

                  Thanks midtown! I had a look at the epi one with maple walnut icing. Looks very good, but I like your idea better - apple cake with a caramel frosting. Thanks!