Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Apr 16, 2009 02:10 PM

Birthday Cake season! seriously...

Is it me or are everyone's birthdays are coming up, AT THE SAME TIME. I have so far to make 3+ birthday cakes for my dear friends and mother. I know everyone i know likes chocolate, peanut butter and more chcoolate - old standards are great but i'd like to

1. polish up my cake & frosting making skills, diff types of cake base, frosting, filings, curds, gelee.. etc.
2. decorate it nicely, may even venture into the world of fondant/ gum paste. (where do i start? I need more advice)
3. can keep for at least a day and few more in the fridge.

what you you made recently that went well, and do you have any recommendations on interesting and fun flavor combos???

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. jeniyo...I recently made a birthday cake for friend, and it was a HUGE hit. They specifically requested a vanilla-vanilla cake. I found this recipe on the internet. I knew it was going to be good when I saw that there was actually a vanilla bean used in the recipe. It's basically a white cake, but with that extra boost of vanilla. Here's the link:
    I iced it with a classic Italian buttercream that was also flavored with lots of vanilla.
    I have added this to my "favorite cake recipe" file, and will definitely make it again. I'm not a fan of fondant...way too sweet for my taste. This was easy to make, looked elegant and was absolutely delicious.

    5 Replies
    1. re: luvarugula

      Can you post or link to your buttercream recipe? I'm still in the search of the perfect buttercream (meringue based or otherwise) and always like to look into those recipes that others have made. Thanks!

      1. re: Laura D.

        Buttercream doesn't have to be so-o-o difficult...i.e. boiling sugar to "softball" stage and all that. The recipe I use now is from Pretty Cakes by Goodbody.

        (makes approx. 4 cups)

        1/2 c. egg whites (about 4 eggs)
        1 c. sugar
        10 oz. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold but not hard, cut in 1/2-inch cubes

        Place egg whites and sugar in bowl of electric mixer over simmering water. Whisk until sugar is dissolved (no longer gritty) and mixture is warm. Using electric mixer, whip at high speed until stiff peaks form. Reduce speed and continue beating until meringue cools to room temperature. At medium speed, add butter a little at a time, scraping bowl with spatula, as necessary. When all the butter is incorporated, beat at high speed until buttercream is smooth and light.
        (NOTE: This is where is gets tricky. Depending on the time of year, indoor/outdoor temperature, it can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes for your buttercream to reach the "smooth and light" stage...maybe even longer. It might get soupy, or curdle, or just not look right. Just keep on going. It will, eventually, get there.)

        Once your buttercream is at the smooth stage, you can add your flavorings.
        Any flavored liqueurs work, use about 1/4 cup and adjust from there.
        Chocolate (dark or white), about 8 oz. melted.
        Juice from lemons or oranges.
        Coffee, or coffee with cocoa, dissolved in 1 T. water.

        Finally, once the flavoring is added, you can adjust the sweetness by adding sifted confectioners sugar, a little at a time, up to 1/2 c.
        (sorry this is so long)
        Finally...buttercream keeps in fridge for weeks, but in freezer for months. Just remember to bring COMPLETELY to room temperature when you go to use it again. And whip, whip, whip, and you'll be fine.
        I hope that helps.

        1. re: luvarugula

          Thanks for posting! I don't have any problems getting my buttercreams to "succeed" from a textural standpoint. It's more that I've yet to find the perfect buttercream for my taste, and I've tried many, many varieites. I'll definitely give this a shot!

          1. re: Laura D.

            You should have no problem, then. Post back and let me know how you liked it.

      2. re: luvarugula

        hi luvarugula!

        I baked all the cakes yesterday and the white cakes turned out great! i cut the domed tops off so i can venture a taste. it was good....

        hopefully my caramel and "stabilized" whip cream would come together okay.


      3. Coconut Tres Leches cake:
        This is a sheet cake. If you need a layer cake you can bake a standard white cake then soak and frost as per the Tres Leches recipe.

        Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

        My all-time favorite cake is a Mocha Hazelnut Torte but I have never made one.

        12 Replies
        1. re: greygarious

          maybe i can bake this in two 8" round cake pans? and just stack it with coconut caramel and whipped cream? do you think that will work? or should i try to do another type of icing?

          I always wanted to bake a cake like that, sounds tasty.

          1. re: jeniyo

            Because the CTL recipe whips the whites for an extra-light cake texture, I suspect that the weight of the top layer might compact the bottom one. Maybe someone with more TL cake experience can chime in. If your guests are fuss-budgets who would whisper behind your back because the cake settled, you can always try making it for your family. The flavor wouldn't be affected; tell 'em to like it "or else" - or, as Mom liked to say, "fress dreck" (= eat dirt!).

            1. re: jeniyo

              It could work but you'd have to be careful soaking the cake or it could leak from the top layer. I'd brush the milk on, instead of pouring but it wouldn't be the same effect. I also don't know if the whipped cream frosting could hold the layer on top, plus you can't easily make a dam to hold the caramel on so you'd have to use a very thin layer and leave 1/2" or so near the edge so the caramel doesn't ooze out. You could make a heavier frosting, like this mascarpone frosting:


              Finally, if you want to assemble in advance, whipped cream, unless it's stabliized, doesn't hold well. But, if you want to do it in a round, I've baked it in a 10" pan w/ tall sides. It isn't a layer cake but it looks like it (until you cut). It's a great cake, though, and also gets "ooh's".

              I forgot to add that I like whipped cream frosting on the cake better than the traditional boiled frosting but that might work better in your case.

              1. re: chowser

                I have stacked tres leches. The middle had tropical fruit, but a stiff coconut caramel would work. I soaked the first layer, put on the filling, then soaked the second layer more gingerly. I then frosted with stabilzed whipping cream.

                1. re: jsaimd

                  No whipped cream frosting in the middle layers would make a big difference. I was thinking of a heavy layer in the middle w/ a heavy cake on top. Your cake sounds great.

                  1. re: jsaimd

                    nice! can you explain the stabilized whipped cream? what do you put in it?

                    1. re: jeniyo

                      I use the gelatin method, but you can use piping gel, or even just cornstarch for short periods.


                      For each cup of cream I use 1/2 t gelatin. Changes texture so I only use it if I am working in advance.

                      1. re: jsaimd

                        that's cool! i'll work in in the cake!

                    2. re: jsaimd

                      Does anyone have a nice STICKY coconut caramel that would go well with with the cake?

                      i am worried about the moisture from the soaking liquid making the caramel too slippery for the layers.

                      I am making a standard white cake layer to be soaked in the coconut milk concoction and a nice stiff whipped cream frosting.

                      1. re: jeniyo

                        I would go with a german chocolate cake type filling - again, be ginger with soaking the top layer especially - it will hold more than you might think but less than a leches cake calls for. to test soak a measured amount of the bottom layer and make sure it doesn't start seeping out 1 hr. later. If so use less on the top layer. You can always serve the milk sauce under the cake when you serve or on the side.


                2. re: greygarious

                  G'Day Greygarious, here I am NEARLY A YEAR LATER trying to find a cake for my upcoming birthday & I read your desire for Mocha Hazelnut Torte.. I submitted a recipe to Epicurious site on 30 August 2009 Hazelnut Meringue Cake with Choc.Sauce under member name KrystynaCooks
                  Look for it in the MEMBER RECIPES section
                  It's a Bloody Fantastic recipe that was on the cover of AUSTRALIAN TASTE magazine & Food editor Suzanne Gibbs had cooked a few for her wedding 25 years ago.. SUPER easy Recipe makes 2 X 8" cakes
                  PS I went back to check if I could find my cake & I also found a Meringue, Chocolate & Kirsch Cream Layer Cake from GOURMET mag. Dec. 2003 with pic that also looks GREAT too Hopefully you will come back to this site & check this out

                  1. re: greygarious

                    We WILL have Coconut Tres Leches Cake for Easter. I've never seen a recipe for my two favorites--together!!

                  2. Wander over to and lose yourself for hours browsing the forums there. You'll find everything you might want to know about cake decorating there!

                    1. 3. If you make a chiffon-type cake (oil rather than butter) it will keep nicely in the fridge. If you make a butter cake, keep it at room temp or the texture will suffer a bit. Of course, if you make a filling or frosting that needs refrigeration you 'll have to keep that in mind.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: danna

                        Soon, I'm going to try to make the Epicurious (real) Coconut cake. After I frost it, I wonder how long it can sit on counter. It's 3 layers and it would take up a lot of room in fridge.

                        1. re: walker

                          I'm not sure what the Epi coconut cake consists of. If it doesn't have a cream filling, then it will last for a long time on the counter. A week, maybe, before it starts to taste old and dried out. Your only issue will be if the frosting starts to go away. Depending on the recipe you use, and the weather, white moutain frosting can start to just dissolve over time. I suppose because so much of it's volume is air.

                      2. If you check out, Deb has plenty of ideas for cakes as well as tips to make things easier! If you look on the main page under resources, there is a link to topics. Under topics there is a whole section for celebration cakes.

                        Good luck!