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your dream birthday cake

I am baking my own birthday cake this year. I like chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate ganache -but obviously this will kill my house guests.

I wanted something luxurious and a *little* more involved. I thought about making that cake that is composed entirely out of crepes- or just a yellow cake and chocolate frosting. I can't make up my mind...

what's your version of your dream birthday cake, if you are to make one for yourself?

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  1. I've always wanted to make a Paris-Brest. You can certainly put ganache on it or a puddle under each slice for your chocolate fix.


    5 Replies
    1. re: nemo

      how fun! that looks like a giant doughnut! regardless, i love this recipe and i'm making very soon!


      1. re: jeniyo

        This is a cake I just created this weekend after a visit to the County Fair where they had a vendor selling chocolate covered bacon.

        Chocolate layer cake with crispy bacon chips. Put the layers together with whipped cream and cover with chocolate frosting. Top with crumpled crispy bacon chips.... hmmmmm

        1. re: Salty_Loves_Sweet

          wow. that's wild. how would think to replace bacon with the standard praline!?!

      2. re: nemo


        I so adore this web site.
        thank you for posting it.
        I plan on making this [third recipe down on the page of several] for Christmas with our little ones' help.
        they'll love getting their little hands into this and the result should be tremendous.
        I'm on a hunt for my pastry bags today, I know I have 2 sets. thank you so much for showing me this gorgeous link.

        jeniyo, I had a cake as you described a few years ago.
        the one with the layers all being crepes.
        at the time, I just thought it was a cake of 13 very thin cake layers.
        it was a birthday cake a man brought in to work as it was his birthday and his mom was known for these tremendously delicious and beautiful cakes but no longer did it for business only for special occasions like her sons birthday.
        it was by far the best cake I ever had. I'll also never have it again as it was across country from me and the birthday mans email address changed years ago so I lost touch. I asked him to ask him mom if I could visit her or her visit me, and we'd do the cake together. I had no idea how she got those layers sooooo thin. think now I know, crepes.

        mine would be yours though. dark rich chocolate cake with dark rich frosting and ganache over all.
        simply sinful :)

        1. re: iL Divo

          There is a "cake" called "Bibique" made by the Goans, consisting of multiple very thin layers. It is made by putting a thin layer of crepe-like batter into a cake pan and baking it for a short while, then topping it with another layer and baking that, and so on. The layers are usually coloured differently.

          My sister is making it for Christmas.

      3. If you like super-chocolate, that's totally what you should make. I think your house guests will probably love it too!

        That said, my dream birthday cake would probably be chocolate cake, hazelnut mousse, a thin layer of buttercream, and a chocolate band around the outside.

        1. I actually really love pie for my birthday but....a few years back my husband made me the Persian Love Cake that was on the cover of a Bon Appetit that month for my birthday. it was delicious and all our friends loved it. We went through a year or so cycle where everyone wanted it at their birthday. Someone also just mentioned this same cake in the rosewater thread. if you like the flavors involved give it a try: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

          1 Reply
          1. re: ziggylu

            this sounds absolutely lovely! there's no birthdays happening this weekend but my friend is moving which is enough of an occasion for such a dessert. i think i'll try it - thanks for posting this!

          2. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Add a teeny bit of almond extract to the frosting!

            3 Replies
            1. re: CurlieGlamourGirlie

              has anyone besides me made this cake?


              it's the answer to curlieglamourgirlie quest

              1. re: iL Divo

                Yes, I made it. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed by it. I actually found it pretty tasteless. :( It was better on day two. Maybe I need to give it another shot.

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  wow, surprised to hear that.
                  but it can go wrong quick too.
                  many posters have had problems with it and the first time or two or three I did, I wasn't thrilled either. when I read the posts most say to try again and again, cause it will turn out great with persistence. our last piece eaten tonight was not flavorless in the slightest, actually very buttery, slight vanilla, not too sweet because I purposely limited my sugar a bit, and the aroma, very nice.

            2. Ooooh! I've been spending all of my free time lately thinking about this! I'm turning 30 in late august and think I will be making a chocolate cake with mint chocolate chip ice cream, perhaps with cream cheese frosting. I'll have to do extensive tests to see if frozen cream cheese frosting works with mint chip ice cream. But this will magically make it intact to the picnic where we will celebrate it with magically warm gougeres, veggie summer rolls, chorizo and champagne.

              1 Reply
              1. Hey, your birthday = your decision! Have you seen this recipe? It fits your description:

                I can tell you that I made it and it was delicious - and a big hit with others. This year I made a red velvet cake off the epicurious site that was covered in berries - very festive looking and good too. A little harder to make though - you have to be careful not to overmix the batter or over bake it.

                Those were cakes for others though. My personal dream birthday cake would definitely be a carrot cake. :)

                6 Replies
                1. re: Jitterbug

                  I agree with Jitterbug that the Double Chocolate Layer cake is great chocolate cake. In a recent quest to bake my SO a chocolate cake for his birthday, I tried 11 different chocolate cake recipes (a little obsessive I know, but I was on a mission), and this was by far my favorite. My boyfriend's favorite was Beatty's chocolate cake http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in... Stewart's Chocolate cake recipe from the Baking cookbook was a close third) Both very rich, deep chocolately flavor and moist- the kind of cake that you can easily pick up the crumbs with your fork. I will frost with the neoclassical buttercream frosting from the Cake Bible (the SO prefers a sweeter frosting), but I would prefer the Mousseline frosting (aka Italian meringue buttercream)- light and airy and not as sweet, but just as decadent. Happy birthday!

                  1. re: BigSal

                    thanks! talks of chocolate cake always goes back to the double chocolate cake from epicurious. I love that cake too! Just for kicks, i might try out beatty's chocolate cake this weekend.. =) it looks VERY similar to the first though.

                    1. re: jeniyo

                      Yes, the ingredients are almost identical except the double chocolate layer includes melted semisweet chocolate. Let us know which you prefer of the two.

                    2. re: BigSal


                      i love a person on a mission..........
                      personally love missions myself :)

                    3. re: Jitterbug

                      I was going to recommend the "Double Chocolate Layer Cake" from epicurious as well. It really is decadent and deliciously chocolatey. Definitely worth the effort!

                      1. There is a cake we've been making in my family since the 1970s. It is from a Gaston LeNotre cookbook (Faites votre patisserie come LeNotre, in French, and I KNOW it has been translated into English, but don't know the title). It is called a concord, and it is pretty spectacular. Takes 2-3 days, though.
                        1st day
                        1. make chocolate mousse (I use Julia Child's recipe, which is lighter than most, owing to mousse-ing with whipped egg whites rather than whipped cream). Refrigerate.
                        2. make chocolate meringue. Pipe 3 identically sized oval disks of meringue on 2 cookie sheets (2 on 1 sheet, 1 on the 2nd, and not onto cookie sheets directly: use parchment paper). Pipe a series of long lines of meringue on the empty space on the 2nd sheet. Bake. Allow meringue to dry out overnight if you can.

                        2nd day.
                        1. peel meringue disks away from parchment paper, being careful not to break or crumble. peel long lines away, breaking into cigarette-like lengths.
                        2. remove mousse from fridge. and use it as you would use frosting to put a cake together. You should have a bottom layer of meringue, a reasonably thick layer of mousse, a layer of meringue, another reasonable layer of mousse, a last layer of meringue, and then a frosting of mousse all over the top and sides of the cake.
                        3. cover the entire cake, now covered entirely with mousse, with meringue "cigarettes". top, sides, everwhere. no particular order, but quite tightly packed.
                        4. transfer to serving plate, refridgerate overnight.

                        3rd day.

                        1. Remove from fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Eat.

                        That overnight refridgeration makes a huge difference, for some reason. If you serve the cake immediately, you'll find it won't taste as good as the leftovers do the next morning, when the mousse and the meringue have had a chance to get to know each other a little bit.

                        This cake is not something to whip together in an hour, but it is gorgeous if you like chocolate.

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: linengirl

                          Wow... that sounds absolutely amazing, linengirl. I'm going to hunt down this recipe and give it a try. Any reason why the mousse should rest overnight? (Mine tend to fall a bit when held.)

                          1. re: cimui

                            No, you can absolutely use the mousse the day you make it. It does need to set up in the fridge a bit so as to not get runny when you are "icing" your cake. I just make it the day before because it's an easy thing to do while the meringue is baking low and slow...

                            And it IS amazing. The impressive to difficulty ratio is fabulous, for dinner party/impressing birthday-person purposes, and if you like chocolate, it really is delicious.

                          2. re: linengirl

                            I have the Lenotre book. It's called, "Lenotre's Desserts and Pastries". It is available from amazon.com for $5.24. And yes, the Concord does look nice. I should make it soon.

                            My favourite birthday cake is a flourless fig cake from a recipe I got from "Chocolatier" magazine. It consists of dried figs simmered in cognac, then combined with eggs, butter, sugar, bittersweet chocolate, and ground toasted hazulnuts. It is then glazed with a mixture of whipping cream, bittersweet chocolate, and hazelnut praline (nougat). Attached is a picture.

                              1. re: linengirl

                                Are you asking for the recipe? CH does not allow that, I believe, as it's from a magazine. But IIRC it is okay to post the list of ingredients. If so, I can do that. Can anyone confirm ?

                                BTW I always make my own birthday cake, much to my wife's chagrin.

                                1. re: souschef

                                  It's ok to post the recipe here if you paraphrase it a little. It sounds delicious. I wish you were cooking my birthday cake this year!

                                  1. re: toveggiegirl

                                    Does the "to" in your name stand for "Toronto" ? I live about 4.5 hours East of you (by car).

                                2. re: linengirl

                                  Okay, I checked the CH recipe posting guidelines, and am paraphrasing as well as including one modification. I am also abbreviating the ingredients as I type religiously - "seek and you shall find".

                                  BTW please use high quality chocolate. I have just discovered Felchlin, and it is wonderful; not cheap, but wonderful.

                                  Taken from the March 1986 issue of Chocolatier magazine:

                                  Sinclair's American Grill Chocolate Fig Cake With Gianduja Glaze.

                                  4 ounces dried figs, finely chopped
                                  1/4 cup Armagnac or Cognac
                                  4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped.
                                  5 ounces hazelnuts, roasted and skins removed
                                  1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs
                                  1 stick unsalted butter, softened
                                  2/3 cup granulated sugar
                                  Pinch of salt
                                  3 large eggs, lightly beaten

                                  4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
                                  3 ounces Gianduja or one 3-ounce chocolate praline bar, such as Lindt's Swiss Milk Chocolate Praline-filled bar
                                  3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon whipping cream

                                  Decoration: 48 blanched sliced almonds.

                                  Note: I have a local source for some fabulous Gianduja; it makes a huge difference.

                                  The cake:
                                  Oven at 375.Butter and base line an 8-inch springform pan. Dust sides with flour.
                                  Figs and Cognac - combine and bring to a simmer and cool
                                  Melt the chocolate and cool to lukewarm
                                  Reserve some nuts for decoration. Throw the rest into a food processor with the breadcrumbs and take them for a spin until ground finely.
                                  Beat the butter in a mixer till light, then add the sugar and salt gradually till light and fluffy.
                                  Add the eggs in a thin stream. Don't panic - they will look separated. Fold in the chocolate till the batter is smooth - it WILL happen. Fold in the hazelnut mixture and the figs. Put into the pan and smooth.
                                  Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted 1" from the sides comes out clean.
                                  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife round the pan and take off the springform. Allow the cake to cool on the base of the pan - the recipe tells you to invert it onto another rack, but I find that this breaks up the cake.

                                  The glaze:
                                  Throw the two chocolates into a food processor. WIth the food processor running, pour in the cream that you have brought to a gentle boil, till smooth.

                                  Take the cake off the base, place it on a rack, and pour about half the glaze over the cake; smooth the top and sides, using a sheet pan underneath to catch the excess. Chill the cake (in the fridge) for 30 minutes, then pour the rest of the glaze (which you have kept warm) over the cake. Allow to set for 2 hrs then decorate per the picture I attached. Any small bubbles on the surface can be liberated with the point of a knife.

                                  VITAL: The cake HAS to be served at room temperature, or you miss a major component of its flavour.

                                  I usually make the cake in a 9.5" pan, increasing the ingredients by 50%. This makes the cake somewhat fragile, so I put a thin 8" board under it before glazing.

                                  1. re: souschef

                                    I forgot to specify (the recipe does not state this) that one important requirement is that the eggs be at room temperature. When I first made this cake (as a neophyte, some 20+ years ago), I used eggs right out of the fridge. When I added the chocolate it seized immediately.

                                    1. re: souschef

                                      Based upon Cynsa's experience with this cake (it broke while being transported to a plate, after being glazed) I suggest that a cake board be used for support under even the 8-inch cake, before being glazed. I use a 4-inch wide pancake turner and an offset spatula to transfer the 8-inch cake to a plate.

                                  2. re: linengirl

                                    okay is this meringe and mousse, no cake? I love the older mousse recipes, I use several myself from the 80s, I love them. One of course with my favorite liiquor, Grand Marnier.

                                    This does sound pretty delicious though.

                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                      Yes, you are correct. It is meringue and mousse, no cake. If you want to see what various cooks and chefs have produced when they have made it for themselves, google gaston lenotre concord. That could get you lots of useful links.

                                      1. My favorite is strawbeerry cassata cake, like this:


                                        Sadly, I've only made it a few times, as there's only two of us in the household and that's an awful lot of calories for just two people, plus you need either one whole day or parts of two to complete the whole thing. Maybe I should throw myself a party, lol.

                                        I really love it, though - the Italian bakeries and restaurants where I grew up would make it and you just can't find it where I live now.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: romansperson

                                          roman, I'm sure I did something wrong it only brought up a sports web page, in the search bar I put the cake recipe request and it came back with no results

                                        2. I made the Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting from Smitten Kitchen's blog - wow, that was the best (and prettiest) cake I've made so far. It will now be my go to cake for all birthdays.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: burbankfoodie

                                            i was thinking about that cake too! guah... can a girl get two birthday cakes? hehe

                                            1. re: burbankfoodie

                                              I'm considering that one for my upcoming birthday - glad to read a positive review.

                                            2. The Ebinger's Chocolate Blackout cake from America's Test Kitchen/Cooks Country: http://cookscountrytv.com/recipes/log...

                                              Requires registration, but that's free.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: DebL

                                                Hi DebL

                                                the post about the ATK or CI chocolate black cake is amazing.
                                                good news is been registered for years and have all the ingredients.
                                                thinking I'll make this for our little guys 8th.
                                                thanks DebL for posting it, it's saved and bookmarked.

                                              2. Have you thought about the Elvis cake oft discussed on this board? It's an amazingly moist banana cake with a creamy peanut butter frosting. I like to add a layer of chocolate ganache in the middle instead of more frosting. It's what I refer to as an absolute girly cake.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: TorontoJo

                                                  The Elvis cake sounds amazing...I have never seen/heard of it in Toronto...does it exist somewhere here?
                                                  p.s. I found a place to bake my 'big' Birthday cake, I wanted a single sheet cake to serve 50 people..it's going to be a Fresh Banana Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting ... I hope it's going to be the 'cake of my dreams' , I'll know better the night of the Party (November 14th!!) Will post the yay/nay on the Ontario CH board!!!

                                                  1. re: pearlD

                                                    Hi pearl -- I'm looking forward to hearing back about your birthday cake! The bakery you're using on Wilson is not too far from me. I pass it all the time and have never noticed it.

                                                    The "Elvis cake" is a recipe someone posted about on the home cooking board (and which has gotten much discussion!). I've made it a couple of times and it is wonderful. The perfect banana cake (tender and moist) with a peanut butter frosting. If your birthday cake doesn't work out, you should make one for yourself after your birthday to treat yourself!

                                                  2. re: TorontoJo

                                                    I'd rather kiss Elvis than make his cake..........
                                                    I'm just sayin.................... :))))

                                                  3. I always consider chocolate cake with vanilla frosting a good go-to favorite. Chocolate cake with mocha frosting is also a delicious combo, especially when served with some cappuccino or espresso.

                                                    1. I think I'd go for the chocolate cake with chocolate icing, but I'd add a layer of raspberry jam between the layers.

                                                      1. Princess Cake!....haven't tried making one yet, but it's on my list of cakes to make

                                                        Recipes for Princess Cake:


                                                        1. the most delicious cake i've ever had is a southern living recipe: sweet potato layer cake with coconut frosting and pecans inside and out. it's made with grated fresh sweet potatoes, and is really high. i can't find my recipe! help, anyone?

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                            that sounds like a fun cake! this will be on my list of to-do cakes!

                                                            1. re: jeniyo

                                                              Here's the recipe for Southern Living's Sweet Potato Cake with Coconut Filling and Caramel Frosting.

                                                              1. re: toveggiegirl

                                                                i've seen that recipe, but that's not the one i'm talking about. the one i seek uses grated raw taters, and the icing doesn't use cream cheese, but is a boiled sugar, coconut, nut icing.

                                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                                  actually, this recipe looks very close if not identical to the sweet potato cake i'm crazy about: http://southernfood.about.com/od/swee...

                                                                  the cake is addictive! my sister had one while i was housesitting for a weekend, and i ate sliver by sliver until it was practically gone (and it had started out as half of a large 3-layer cake). i made her a brownie pie that is to this day (some 30 years later) known as "apology pie." ;-).

                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                    i found the recipe for my favorite cake, and it was in "cotton country collection" cookbook (but then southern living must've picked it up from there).

                                                                    anyhoo, this cake is DA BOMB!


                                                          2. These are the two that I use for Special Occassions:

                                                            Zuppa Inglese Cake (a very special Italian rum cake)

                                                            Schwarzwalder Kirsch Torte (a German cake with cherries)

                                                            If interested in either one......let me know and I will post recipes.

                                                            14 Replies
                                                            1. re: Lisbet

                                                              Love a proper Schwarzwalder Kirsch Torte aka Blackforest Cake....
                                                              and haven't had a chance to try a Zuppa Inglese Cake

                                                              could you please post your recipes for both your cakes:)

                                                              1. re: phoenikia

                                                                Recipe from Lutz Conttinental Cafe and Pastry Shop

                                                                (Since it takes some time to assemble the torte, prepare the cherry filling the day before and keep it chilled.)

                                                                1 recipe Cherry Filling
                                                                2 egg whites
                                                                1 3/4 cups sifted Cake Flour
                                                                3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
                                                                1/3 cup Cooking Oil
                                                                2 Egg Yolks
                                                                1 teaspoon unflavored Gelatin
                                                                2 tablespoons cold Water
                                                                1/2 cup Kirsch or Cherry Liqueur
                                                                1 square Semisweet Chocolate -- (1 oz.) shaved
                                                                1 recipe Chocolate Buttercream
                                                                1/2 cup granulated Sugar
                                                                1 cup granulated Sugar
                                                                1 teaspoon Salt
                                                                1 cup Milk
                                                                2 squares unsweetened Chocolate -- (2 oz.) melted and cooled
                                                                3 cups Whipping Cream
                                                                3/4 cup toasted Almonds
                                                                Maraschino Cherries

                                                                To Make CAKE: In a small mixer bowl beat egg whites 'til soft peaks form (tips curl over).
                                                                Gradually add the 1/2 C sugar, beating 'til stiff peaks form.

                                                                Into large mixer bowl sift cake flour, the 1 C sugar, the soda, and salt.
                                                                Add oil, and 1/2 C of the milk; beat 1 min. at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl often.
                                                                Add the remaining milk and the egg yolks; beat 1 min. more. Fold in egg whites.
                                                                Pour a third of the batter into one greased and lightly floured 9-inch round cake pan; set aside.
                                                                Add cooled 2 squares melted chocolate to remaining mixture in bowl; fold 'til well blended.
                                                                Pour chocolate batter into two greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.

                                                                Bake all three layers in 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 min.
                                                                Remove and cool on wire rack.

                                                                To make CHERRY FILLING: Drain two 16 oz. cans pitted tart red cherries, reserving
                                                                2/3 C juice. In 2-quart saucepan combine 2/3 C granulated sugar and 1/4 C corn-
                                                                starch. Stir in reserved juice. Cook and stir 'til mixture is thickened and bubbly.
                                                                Add cherries; cook 2 min. more. Remove from heat; stir in 1 t. vanilla. Cool.

                                                                To make CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM: In small mixer bowl cream 3 T butter or mar-
                                                                garine. Gradually beat in 1 C sifted powdered sugar. Beat in 1 square (1 oz.) un-
                                                                sweetened chocolate, melted and cooled, 2 T light cream and 1 t vanilla. Gradually
                                                                beat in another 1 C sifted powdered sugar 'til fluffy. Add a teaspoon or two of light
                                                                cream, if necessary, to make of piping consistency.

                                                                To ASSEMBLE CAKE: In small heatproof cup soften gelatin in water; place over low heat, stirring just 'til dissolved. Set aside but do not cool.

                                                                In a large mixer bowl whip cream 'til slightly thickened. Add gelatin all at once; continue beating 'till soft peaks form.

                                                                Place one chocolate cake layer on serving plate. Fit pastry bag with medium rose point (#2F); fill with chocolate buttercream. Starting a third of the way out from the center of cake, pipe a 3 in. diameter ring of buttercream. Pipe a second ring two thirds of the way from center. Pipe a third ring around outer edge of cake. Fill in area between buttercream with some of the cherry filling. Spread a thin layer (about 1 C) of whipped cream over top.

                                                                Place yellow cake layer atop; drizzle kirsch very slowly over cake. Put about 2 C of the whipped cream in pastry bag with large rosette tip (#1C); pipe a band of whipped cream about 2 inches wide around outer edge of cake layer (save enough cream for rosette garnish). Fill center with cherry filling (there will be some filling left over)..

                                                                Place second chocolate cake layer over cherries; frost cake with remaining whipped cream. Press almonds onto side of cake. Pipe rosettes evenly around top of cake. Sprinkle shaved chocolate in center.
                                                                Garnish rosettes with cherries. Chill.

                                                                Yield: "16 servings"

                                                                1. re: Lisbet

                                                                  aaah, Lutz! I used to love going there for a dessert and coffee on Sunday afternoons. ;)

                                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                                    How Lucky You Are !!!!........to have visited Lutz's International Cafe! It must be a Fabulously Wonderful Bakery !! True German Konditorei !

                                                                    1. re: Lisbet

                                                                      Which Lutz's is this? When I was a kid in Chicago I used to ogle the cakes at the Lutz's on Montrose and stare amazedly at the marzipan animals that rotated on the display case!

                                                                      1. re: JungMann

                                                                        I got the recipe for Schwarzwalder Torte from Better Homes & Gardens, the 1977 December issue, page 110.

                                                                        I have never been lucky enough to be able to actually go to Lutz's. If you use the Google site and type in "Lutz's International Cafe and Bakers", you will find that they have a web page. Also, apparently they do mail-order, too.

                                                                        I don't know, for sure, (never having been there) but imagine they are in the order of bakeries I have visited on a European trip. As well a selling whole cakes and goods to take home, they have lovely little tables where you and a companion can sit down and order a slice of selected cake (after viewing their display of the whole product in a glass show case) with coffee, or/and some equally wonderful house-made ice cream.

                                                                        Those Europeans really know how to live graciously and at a relaxed pace !
                                                                        All I can do is imagine in my fantasies what Lutz's in Chcage must be like !!

                                                                        "ChefJune" has been there !

                                                                      2. re: Lisbet

                                                                        Can I make the cake and buttercream the day before, as well as the cherries? Can the piping be done with a plastic bag instead of pastry bag? I have been looking for a good Black Forest Cake recipe. This looks challenging but delicious.

                                                                      3. re: phoenikia

                                                                        As promised...here is my recipe for the Zuppa Inglese...........

                                                                        Zuppa Inglese
                                                                        Source: "Culinary Arts Institute, Chicago, Ill."
                                                                        Yield: "16 to 20 servings"

                                                                        (* I find that I need to make Two Batches of This Sponge Cake Dough for three 9" round layers).

                                                                        Recipe for Zuppa Inglese
                                                                        5 Eggs, separated
                                                                        1 Cup Sugar
                                                                        2 Tblsp Lemon Juice
                                                                        1 Tsp. grated Lemon Peel
                                                                        1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
                                                                        1/2 Tsp. Salt
                                                                        1 Cup Cake Flour (plus 1 tsp. Baking Powder)
                                                                        1/2 Cup Dark Rum
                                                                        2 Tblsp Cold Water

                                                                        Pineapple Cream Filling: Abt. 3 Cups
                                                                        2 Cup Milk
                                                                        1/2 Cup Sugar
                                                                        2 Tblsp Cornstarch
                                                                        1/2 Tsp. Salt
                                                                        3 Eggs
                                                                        1 1/2 Cups Crushed Pineapple -- (No,2 Can, drained)
                                                                        1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

                                                                        Chocolate Cream Filling:
                                                                        1 1/2 Square Chocolate
                                                                        2/3 Cup Sugar
                                                                        2 cups chilled whipping cream

                                                                        For Zuppa Inglese Cake: *Unlike the regular sponge cake, this sponge cake batter is baked in three 11x7x1½-in. cake pans for 30 to 35 min. This gives the Zuppa three layers which are each about 1-in. in height-exactly what is needed to prepare the Zuppa. Line pan bottoms with waxed paper or parchment. Butter and flour
                                                                        before adding the batter. (I use round Wilton Cake Pans.)

                                                                        For Cake: Separate egg yolks from whites. Combine egg yolks, ½ cup sugar, lemon juice, grated peel, and vanilla extract and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 3 to 4 minutes. Set Aside.

                                                                        In another bowl beat until frothy the egg whites with ½ teaspoon of salt. Add gradually, beating well after each addition ½ cup of sugar, until rounded peaks are formed. Gently fold egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites. Fold in the sifted cake flour, about one-fourth at a time.

                                                                        Turn batter into pans, and bake at 325 degrees F. 60 to 65 minutes until cake springs back when lightly touched in center or when a wooden pick inserted in center of the cake comes out clean. Cool cake completely before frosting.

                                                                        Pineapple Cream Filling: Scald milk in top of double boiler. Meanwhile sift sugar, cornstarch, and salt into a saucepan. Add ½ cup cold milk, stirring well. Gradually stir in scalded milk. Wash double boiler top to remove scum. Stirring gently and constantly, bring cornstarch mix rapidly to boiling over direct heat and cook for 3 minutes. Pour into double boiler top and place over simmering water. cover and cook about 12 minutes, stirring three or four times. Vigorously stir about 3 tablespoons hot mix into 3 slightly beaten eggs. Immediately blend into mixture in double boiler. Cook over simmering water 3 to 5 minutes. Stir slowly to keep mixture cooking evenly.
                                                                        Remove from heat. Cover and cool.
                                                                        Stir in the crushed pineapple with the vanilla extract. Chill in refrigerator.

                                                                        Chocolate Cream Filling: Follow above recipe. Add the 1½ square chocolate to milk and heat to scalding.
                                                                        Beat smooth with rotary beater. Increase sugar to 2/3 cup. Omit pineapple.

                                                                        Assembly: Sprinkle first layer of cake with one-third of rum mixture, and spread with Pineapple Cream Filling. Top with second layer and sprinkle with one-third of rum mixture. Spread with Chocolate Cream Filling. Top with third layer and remaining rum mixture. Cover cake with waxed paper. Place in refrigerator for several hours to chill.

                                                                        For frosting sides and top of cake and for decorating use Whipped Cream.
                                                                        Beat in a 1-quart bowl with chilled rotary beater, one cup at a time, 2 cupschilled whipping cream. Beat until cream stands in peaks when beater is slowly lifted upright. (I stabilize cream with melted gelatin)
                                                                        Also can be frosted with Butter Frosting or Seven-Minute Frosting.

                                                                        Combine with whipped cream in a large chilled bowl 6 tablespoons sifted Confectioners' Sugar and 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract.

                                                                        To Decorate: force frosting or whipped cream through pastry bag and a No.27 star decorating tube. Garnish with Cherries.

                                                                        Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
                                                                        P.S. You are very welcome "phoenikia"......It's always a pleasure for me to share when I have something that I think is especially good! :-)

                                                                        1. re: Lisbet

                                                                          That looks delicious, Lisbet;) Grazie mille!

                                                                          1. re: Lisbet

                                                                            Hi Lisbet - This recipe looks amazing but far beyond my capabilities as a baker! But I was wondering about one element of this recipe and wondering if you could help me out.

                                                                            I'm making Persian Love cupcakes tonight and wanted to use a stabilized whipped cream but have never made before. For 2 cups whipping cream, how much gelatin would you use?

                                                                            1. re: jmullen1251

                                                                              for "jmullen1251".......So sorry, but didn't see your post until this morning (7/25) !!!

                                                                              If I am too late, here is some "Kitchen Info." that you might want to print off and tuck into your cookbook:

                                                                              WHIPPED CREAM - Stabilized

                                                                              There are three ways to stabilize Whipped Cream when using it for frosting.

                                                                              The most common way is to use gelatin. For each cup of cream (1/2 pint) to be whipped, you will need 1 t. gelatin and 2 T. of cold water. Add the gelatin to the water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir over low heat 'til melted. Allow to cool, then begin whipping cream. As soon as cream barely mounds, begin pouring melted, cooled gelatin in a slow, steady stream into the cream, with beaters still running. Continue to beat the cream 'til it is stiff enough to use as frosting or for piping through a pastry tube. Put cake in a cool place. Serve chilled.

                                                                              Another way is to beat a little confectioners' sugar into whipped cream. The sugar absorbes some of the excess liquid in the whipped cream; it also contains cornstartch, which acts as a stabilizer. Whip cream 'til stiff, then fold in 3 T confectioners' sugar to each cupful of whipped cream. (Each 1/2 pint of whipping cream yields 2 C of whipped cream.)

                                                                              A third way is to let it drip 'til it is stiff from loss of moisture. Buy heavy whipping cream the day before you plan to use it, and put it into the coldest part of your refrigerator. Whip 2 C of cream in an electric mixer, or use a rotary beater 'til it begins to thicken. Then add 1/4 C sugar and continue shipping 'til thick, taking care not to over beat. Fold 2 t vanilla into cream.

                                                                              Rinse a triple layer of cheesecloth in cold water and wring out well. Use to line a colander or large strainer. Pour whipped cream into cheesecloth-lined colander. Set in a pan with raised sides, then drape remaining cloth over the top. Let sit for 24 to 48 hrs. in the refrigerator. As liquid drips out of the cream, the cream will get dense and very stiff. Makes 4 C. Use within 24 to 48 hrs.

                                                                              WAYS to MAKE CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM

                                                                              There are two methods for making chocolate whipped cream. The first is to beat 2 C of whipping cream until slightly thick, then, with the beaters still running, pour 2/3 C of chocolate syrup into the whipped cream in a thin, steady stream. This makes a delicious chocolate whipped cream that can be used as a cake filling.

                                                                              A second method calls for a sifted mixture of 2/3 C of aconfectioners' sugar and 5 T of unsweetened cocoa. This combination with 2 C of whipping cream, and the mixture is beaten 'til stiff. If desired 1 t. of vanilla extract into the chocolate whipped cream while the beaters are running. You will have better results whipping cream if the cream is at least 1 day old and if the beaters and bowl are well chilled.

                                                                              From Bon Appetit Magazine April, 1983 p.124
                                                                              Bringing whipped cream back from the brink
                                                                              from Taunton's Fine Cooking (75), pp. 82 by Jennifer Armentrout
                                                                              Tell me you’ve never done this before: There you are, whipping cream to go along with your luscious pumpkin pie or other dessert masterpiece, knowing that you’re probably getting close to perfect peaks when—whoops!—all of a sudden you push it too far and the cream goes from fluffy to grainy in a split second. Do you quietly curse yourself as you scrape the batch into the trash and pray you have enough cream to start over again? No, you don’t. What you do instead is add a few tablespoons of fresh cream to the overwhipped cream and start whipping again.
                                                                              As long as the overwhipped cream hasn’t begun to form clumps of butterfat (which means it’s more than just a little overwhipped and is actually on its way to becoming butter), the fresh cream should quickly smooth out the graininess. But this time, stop whipping before you overdo it again. For extra insurance, you can whip the fresh cream in by hand with a whisk

                                                                              1. re: Lisbet

                                                                                Another way to make chocolate whipped cream (which I like as it allows you to use a high-quality chocolate):

                                                                                Bring 1-1/2 cups whipping cream and 1 tbsp sugar to a full boil. Take the pan off the heat and vigorously stir in 2-1/4 ounces of finely-chopped chocolate, till melted and smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill for 5 hours. Then whip.

                                                                                Taken from the book "Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé".

                                                                                1. re: Lisbet

                                                                                  Wow! Lisbet thank you so much! i didn't check sat morning before i made the whipped cream but i did look on the internet friday eve and basically came to the same point that you would have guided me to - i used gelatin and powdered sugar and it was the perfect consistency - it might have otherwise been too stiff but since i added rose water, that was enough to thin it out just enough - it piped beautifully - thanks again!

                                                                        2. My dream version would be a cake using either yellow or dark chocolate with layers of a hazelnut crunch and ganache, a nice vanilla custard in between the layers if possible, and a beautiful dark chocholate ganache frosting...with more chopped hazlenuts on the top and sides. I don't have a recipe but that's my dream cake, perhaps I need to get busy researching and practicing on a recipe for next year!

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                            that sounds fantastic. i'd love a triple chocolate cake with hazelnut praline and creme burlee on the bottom layer, chocolate mousse in between the upper layer. ganache all around with praline pieces around the outside of the cake.

                                                                            i never got around to research how to put creme burlee inside a cake, is it just a dense vanilla custard? or do i scoop out and spread on cake?

                                                                            1. re: jeniyo

                                                                              creme brulee is a wonderful custard, I don't think dense at all. The brulee is what would hold the hazelnut in place, like a soft candy almost. Praline is brown sugar and cream, its softer than brulee. I like your creme brulee idea, that's perfect.

                                                                              But all cremebrule is, to answer your question is a rich egg custard. Sure you could spread it, but don't go to close to the edge, it will slide out.

                                                                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                                I have a recipe that sounds a bit like what you describe. It is called Hapsburger Torte, and consists of layers of hazelnut cake sandwiching chocolate hazelnut cake, ganache, and a layer of almond-pistachio butter. The whole works is glazed with a chocolate glaze; I don't like the one in the recipe, so I usually use the chocolate/cream/Gianduja glaze in the fig cake recipe I posted earlier. The decoration uses sliced almonds and chopped hazelnuts and pistachios. It's a very expensive cake to make, but feeds a large crowd.

                                                                                Wouldn't vanilla custard be a bit gooey in a cake, unless combined with butter? I LOVE butter.

                                                                              2. I dream of white chocolate, but find that the confiture that usually moistens the cake takes away too much from the white chocolate itself. Were I to find something that were to spotlight white chocolate (and perhaps incorporate some coconut in there), I'd be in heaven.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: JungMann

                                                                                  The Cake Bible has a great white chocolate cake recipe, as well as some good white chocolate frosting or ganache recipes. You could easily incorporate coconut, althout I find it goes better on its own then with white chocolate.

                                                                                2. Perhaps because of my Hungarian heritage, my favorite bakery cake is a Dobos torte. If I am baking, I do a riff on this by making 7 layers of very rich genoise, sprinling each layer very lightly with Frangelico (hazelnut liquor), using an espresso-chocolate cooked buttercream. The top layer is the traditional caramel one. I gild the lily by encasing the outside of the cake with finely chopped hazelnuts as well.

                                                                                  My mother (born in Hungary) will turn 80 in early August and I will be making this for her. While my cakes don't always LOOK picture perfect, their taste is incredible as I use A+ ingredients (Plugra butter, cane suage, best vanilla, real cream, etc).

                                                                                  The menu for this birthday dinner will be roasted shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce (Ina Garten), cesar salad with homemade dressing and croutons, miniature cloverleaf rolls, roasted prime rib, creamed spinach, potato gratin and the cake. A trip to the cardiologist may have to be the last stop (just kidding).

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                    I think we have the same dobostorte recipe, don't we Diane? It's been my go-to celebratory cake for some carb-heavy days!

                                                                                    1. re: JungMann

                                                                                      Me three! Actually, I've made it for my own birthday in mid-december, and at the same time make a second one for the freezer, for my father's birthday later in December. If you're going to mess up the kitchen that much, might as well get two out of it.

                                                                                    2. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                      Your Dobos Torte sounds wonderful. Would you mind sharing the recipe, please. The menu sounds superb!

                                                                                    3. I can never make up my mind!


                                                                                      MIle high chocolate with fudge frosting and burnt carmel between the layers, covered in milk chocolate frosting.

                                                                                      A cake made of big fresh baked chocolate chip cookies with melty chocolate fudge and frosting in between the layers-oozing out because the cookie layers are still warm. Top it with a bit of ginger ice cream. The cookies would have to have dark, milk and white chocolate in there. If you bake them in the bottom of spring form cake pans, you can form them and get them out easily. Or just cake pans. Make a ganache for between the layers.

                                                                                      For me a dream birthday cake would be one I could eat a lot of and not gain an ounce.

                                                                                      Make your favorite for YOU, not your guests. Go triple chocolate if you want!

                                                                                      1. Paris Brest is really delicious and so easy to do!

                                                                                        I have made a lot of birthday cakes in my life, but nothing gets as many requests as Coconut Pound Cake! Go figure.

                                                                                        I really like to make a Sacher Torte for a birthday cake, and write the birthday person's name in the molten chocolate on the top. Very sophisticated, understated and super-delicious! Another that is really impressive is a Black Forest Cake that I make in an off-kilter heart shaped pan.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                                                          St. Honoré ia also delicious, but a bit more work than Paris-Brest.

                                                                                        2. I ask for a good black forest cake every birthday. I never get one. My mother makes me trifles or cheesecakes, but never a good black forest cake.

                                                                                          34 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Bryn

                                                                                              I'll take the trifle any day. Cheese has no business being in cakes. I think I am perhaps the only person I know who does not like cheesecake.

                                                                                              1. re: souschef

                                                                                                I'm with you, souschef, I can't stand cheesecake. I also can't do the heavy chocolate cakes; I'd much prefer a fresh strawberry shortcake for my birthday :)

                                                                                                1. re: ForFoodsSake

                                                                                                  I can very definitely do the heavy chocolate cakes. You haven't lived till you've tasted the Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte from "The Cake Bible" - chocolate, butter, and eggs, and maybe some raspberry puree to intensify the chocolate; thats it! You should try it sometime.

                                                                                                  In general I find cheesecake very cloying. I have yet to make Buttertart's Japanese cheesecake; despite Buttertart's reassurance I have some trepidation about making it.

                                                                                                  1. re: souschef

                                                                                                    MAKE IT!!! It is nothing whatsoever like the regular style. Pleeezzzee make it!

                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                      At the risk of incurring your wrath, may I please ask (again) that you post a link to the correct recipe (I know there were two). Promise I'll bookmark it this time. Merci Madame.

                                                                                                      1. re: souschef

                                                                                                        Voici la recette, mon très cher souschef. Tu ne peux jamais me fâcher.

                                                                                                        8 oz cream cheese

                                                                                                        3 egg yolks

                                                                                                        1/4 c cornstarch

                                                                                                        grated rind of 1 lemon + 2 tb juice

                                                                                                        1/4 c milk or cream

                                                                                                        1 tsp vanilla

                                                                                                        Combine in food processor until smooth

                                                                                                        3 egg whites

                                                                                                        1/2 tsp cream of tartar

                                                                                                        Beat to soft peaks and beat in 1/2 c sugar, beat to firm peaks

                                                                                                        Fold cream cheese mixture into egg whites

                                                                                                        Bake in deep 8" pan in water bath 40-45 mins at 350 deg F

                                                                                                        It will inflate and fall, but the texture is wonderful, more like a spongecake than a cheesecake.

                                                                                                        MAKE IT ALREADY!!!

                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                            Yes, I did. Gracias señora!

                                                                                                            I will make it by the end of this week. Promise! But I won't promise that I'll like it :)

                                                                                                          2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                            Well Buttertart m'dear I finally made the cheesecake today. Madame Souschef said that she really likes it, and said that she would like it sandwiched between génoise layers.

                                                                                                            My opinion? Hmmmmm, how do I put this delicately? I thought it was OK; definitely not cloying like any other cheesecake I have tried. The best way to summarize my opinion is that I would accept a slice if Doña Buttertart offered me one, but I would not make it again. Sorry :(

                                                                                                            Have you ever made it with orange instead of lemon? I think it would be better, even though I'm not too crazy about the texture.

                                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                                              Ah well, chacun a son gout, cheri. At least you tried it and Mme souschef liked it. Still too gummy/dense?

                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                No, it was not gummy at all. It was like it could not decide if it wanted to be a mousse or cotton candy. Also, I found that it tasted metallic; but then meds are known to change taste buds. Please don't ask me when I last tasted metal :)

                                                                                                                Bottom line was that it was not as objectionable as a standard cheesecake, which I find extremely hard to swallow.

                                                                                                            2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                              I have been reading this thread and gaining weight simply reading all the amazingly helpful wonderful ideas and cakes. Wow am I getting the urge to get off my diet train in a hurry. What the heck. This smooth French Cheesecake recipe has thrown me onto the tracks. I am cooking tomorrow!! Darn. And I was doing ok until I read this thread too....... You guys are great!! Love the ideas here. So helpful for those of us struggling with pastry insecurities. Thanks again.

                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                There is a terrible omission or maybe mistake in this recipe. First thing is I don't see ANY SUGAR allowed for your cake recipe. A cake is not a cake without sugar in most countries that I know of. Since I have seen this recipe before (in Poland) I decided to try and make this with many modifications.

                                                                                                                I went ahead and added a little over a 1/2 sugar to the base recipe in food processor. I also reduced the lemon a good bit. To much lemon can get a bit.....bitter........! Also I added a great deal more starch in the form of cake flour (about another 3/4 cup or so) and also added powdered sugar to stabilize the egg whites instead of regular sugar. Actually I added half regular sugar and half powder sugar. Added vanilla to the egg whites as well. Seems a few things were left out in translation someplace but the BASIC idea the idea is there. We will see how this turnes about in about 30 mintues or so.

                                                                                                                1. re: rbluvsfood

                                                                                                                  Please re-read buttertart's recipe again; 1/2 cup sugar is added to the egg whites, after they're beaten to soft peaks.

                                                                                                                  I've made this particular recipe a few times and it is plenty sweet. I hope yours is not overly sweet.

                                                                                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                    As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, on top of the 1/2 cup of sugar put into the egg whites, you will also need an additional 1/2 cup 'additional' sugar in the batter. If you do not put sugar in the batter this thing tastes like a tart lemon cheese dip thing, not a cheese cake as anyone here may know it. So please add at the least 1/2 cup of additional sugar to this recipe. My cheese cake turned out GREAT. It did not flatten out, it was fluffy, hold its shape, was nice and light brown on top, and never flattened out. Was like biting into a giant light fluffy marshmallow that tastes like cheese. It was great but it took a lot of modification.

                                                                                                                    1. re: rbluvsfood

                                                                                                                      I only ever put the 1/2 c sugar in mine and we like it exactly as it is. Glad you liked yours.

                                                                                                                      Incidentally, Japanese patisserie in general is less sweet than western patisserie.

                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                        Exactly. rbluvsfood has modified a Japanese recipe for Western tastes. Might as well just make a regular cheese cake for that matter, instead of playing around with a good recipe.

                                                                                                                        I have made this cheesecake a few times and find it delicious with plenty of sweetness for 8 oz of cream cheese, which I can appreciate. I don't know how the poster knows it would taste like "tart lemon cheese dip" if extra sugar was added.

                                                                                                                      2. re: rbluvsfood

                                                                                                                        It's great that you liked what you made, but buttertart's recipe did not have any errors or omissions in it. Did you make it as written first? If not, it seems premature to judge the recipe and declare it "tart lemon cheese dip".

                                                                                                                        1. re: TorontoJo

                                                                                                                          That's rather what I was thinking. And hey T.O.Jo, love love love your frosting, lady! :)

                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                              Ha, buttertart! I know you know that's it's not *my* frosting. I feel so odd that there is that thread that attaches my name to that frosting. But I do give credit where it's due in that thread. :o)

                                                                                                                              BTW, I need to try your cheesecake recipe. I stopped making cheesecakes years ago, because every time I did, I got kinda grossed out by the amount of fat and sugar in them. This looks a lovely antidote to all those uber-rich recipes. I just need to finish the chocolate cake that DH requested for Christmas first!

                                                                                                                              1. re: TorontoJo

                                                                                                                                I know, but your posts certainly brought it to a lot more folks' attention than it would otherwise have received. Incidentally, according to a recipe for Red Velvet cake in the quite good new book "Sugar, Sugar - every recipe has a story", it's the original frosting for that cake.
                                                                                                                                Do, please, try it. It's delightful. I shudder when I see those recipes for 5 pkg of cream cheese +++ too.

                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                  I learned that is the original frosting for RVC right here on CH in 2007, from this thread (with a vintage recipe for both cake and frosting): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/388523

                                                                                                                      3. re: rbluvsfood

                                                                                                                        I made the cake exactly as specified by buttertart, and it certainly was not too tart or lacking in sugar. While I did not like it (but then I don't like cheesecake), my wife really enjoyed it.

                                                                                                                        I was wondering - why did you add vanilla to the egg whites? I have never seen that done before.

                                                                                                                        How did your version turn out?

                                                                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                          My version of this cheesecake was utterly wonderful. It was fluffy, airy, light like a marshmallow, held its consistency without falling at all, and was mouthwatering. I did cut back on the lemon (and should have cut back much more so), while adding more cake flour, sugar & vanilla. Each piece of cake had lovely air bubbles trapped inside which made this taste luscious. I think my version of this dish may have been more Polish while the original version was from another region of the world which uses much much less sugar? I don't know.....Happy Holidays........If my Adobe was working I would post a picture or maybe I will take a picture and post it when I figure out why Adobe is not working currently.

                                                                                                                          1. re: rbluvsfood

                                                                                                                            Ok, we are in agreement then - your cheesecake is Polish while Buttercup's is Japanese.

                                                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                              Yes Souschef I would say that is true.

                                                                                                                            2. re: rbluvsfood

                                                                                                                              Ok here are some pictures of the cheese cake I made. I cut these up into small pieces.......we have no more left. Double batch went very fast.

                                                                                                                              1. re: rbluvsfood

                                                                                                                                One more picture of this cheesecake

                                                                                                                2. re: souschef

                                                                                                                  IMO a cheesecake base makes a much better ice cream than cake.

                                                                                                                  but i disagree on banning cheese from cakes altogether. where would cakes be without cream cheese frosting??

                                                                                                                  1. re: mattstolz

                                                                                                                    I'm not a fan of cream cheese frosting; and no, I don't like carrot cake.

                                                                                                                    Give me buttercream any day,

                                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                      All I want for Christmas is a tub of homemade cream cheese topping...you can keep the cake....any cake!!! A friend actually gave me a 500 ml tub of the Cream Cheese Topping as a Birthday present...I LOVED it and I didn't share!!

                                                                                                              2. Two more cakes to consider:

                                                                                                                Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte from Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Cake Bible". I have made it many times, and it is really delicious, especially when you incorporate raspberry puree into the mix, as she suggests. All it contains is chocolate, butter, and eggs. I cannot recommend the book highly enough; it is a treasure trove of stuff.

                                                                                                                Queen of Sheba from Alice Medrich's book "Cocolat". This is another cake I have made many times.

                                                                                                                As both books are readily available I will not post the recipes.

                                                                                                                1. I devised a chestnut cake for my husband's latest birthday, by cobbling togther recipes from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert (chestnut-walnut meringues, which I made into 3 9" layers (and some cookies out of the leftovers), Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible (chestnut layer cake, 2 9"layers), and some leftover chocolate glaze from Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets (the Medrich - which introduced me to the use of chestnut flour - and Greenspan books being two of my absolute favorites). Glued the meringue and cake layers together with a skim of the chocolate glaze, and frosted the whole shebang with a light ganache (2 parts heavy cream to 1 part TJ's 72% chocolate), chilled and whipped. It was quite wonderful if I do say so myself, although I think I will make the next one with chestnut génoise and not the layer cake for more lightness. (My ideal birthday cake for myself is a Zuger Kirschtorte, meringue and génoise with kirsch syrup and buttercream - which was lurking in the back of my mind when casting about for ideas for this cake - but the recipes I have for it make a whopping great cake, my husband prefers chestnuts to almost anything other than sour cherries, and we were having a small celebration, this significant birthday coming less than a week after we lost our venerable Maine Coon, Milan, RIP darling).

                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                    Hey buttertart, if you like chestnut cakes, I have a recipe that is my wife's favourite. It consists of genoise layers moistened with rum syrup, then filled with a mixture of Swiss meringue, chocolate, butter, and chestnut puree. The whole thing is then frosted with a mixture of the same stuff minus the chocolate. The next time I make it I will try it with chestnut genoise. Thanks for the idea.

                                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                      Ooh ooh ooh yes, pls post more recipe details - we are both mad for chestnuts, himself more in a savory vein, I adore marrons glacés above all else. And my bday is next month...

                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                        I love marrons glacés as well. The best I have had came from Confiserie Rohr in Geneva - my sister-in-law who used to live in Geneva once arranged to have delivered to me 3 kilos of the stuff; it was a great Christmas. I tried to make them a couple of times, but failed miserably. I plan to try again, using techniques I have since gleaned from various source, and will start a thread here. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

                                                                                                                        Here is the recipe for the chestnut cake (for brevity I will leave out the genoise recipe):

                                                                                                                        Alex Miles' Winter Chestnut Cake (From Chocolatier magazine, January 1989)

                                                                                                                        9" Genoise (I use 6 eggs, 6 oz flour, 6 oz sugar and some beurre noisette)

                                                                                                                        Rum syrup
                                                                                                                        1/2 cup water
                                                                                                                        1/4 cup granulated sugar
                                                                                                                        3 Tablespoons dark rum

                                                                                                                        Swiss meringue
                                                                                                                        6 large egg whites
                                                                                                                        1-3/4 cup granulated sugar

                                                                                                                        Chestnut filling
                                                                                                                        5 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
                                                                                                                        1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened until shiny
                                                                                                                        1 cup unsweetened chestnut puree
                                                                                                                        1-3/4 cups Swiss meringue
                                                                                                                        1 teaspoon vanilla extract

                                                                                                                        Vanilla buttercream:
                                                                                                                        2 sticks unsalted butter, softened until shiny
                                                                                                                        2 cups Swiss meringue
                                                                                                                        1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

                                                                                                                        3/4 cup roasted sliced almonds
                                                                                                                        Cocoa powder

                                                                                                                        Make the genoise using your standard recipe. Chill overnight.

                                                                                                                        Make the rum syrup:
                                                                                                                        Dissolve sugar in water over medium heat, then bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add rum and cool.

                                                                                                                        Make the Swiss meringue:
                                                                                                                        In a large metal mixer bowl combine the egg whites and sugar, then beat over a pan containing hot water until the sugar has dissolved and the the mixture is white and creamy and hot (110 degrees) - 5 to 10 min. Using the mixer, beat the mixture for 10 -15 min, till cool and has formed a thick meringue.

                                                                                                                        Make the chestnut filling:
                                                                                                                        Melt the chocolate and cool till tepid.
                                                                                                                        Beat the butter till creamy, beat in the chestnut puree, melted chocolate and meringue, until smooth. Add the vanilla.

                                                                                                                        Make the Vanilla buttercream.
                                                                                                                        Same as for chocolate filling, but w/o the chocolate

                                                                                                                        Assemble the cake:
                                                                                                                        Slice the genoise into three layers. Brush the bottom layer with 1/3 syrup. Spread half chestnut filling over. Cover with middle layer, brush with syrup and spread remaining chestnut filling. Brush top layer with syrup and place on top. Freeze the cake for 20 minutes.

                                                                                                                        Frost the cake:
                                                                                                                        Standard frosting technique using the vanilla buttercream. Cover sides with toasted almonds. Place in fridge for 30 minutes.

                                                                                                                        Place a stencil over the cake and dust with cocoa. remove stencil.

                                                                                                                        I like to serve the cake at room temperature.

                                                                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                          I just remembered that I have a picture of this cake. I usually use a starburst design for the decoratioin, but this was for a flower lover.

                                                                                                                          The flowers below the cake stand were my wife's idea.

                                                                                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                            I must make this, what a beautiful cake.

                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                              Thanks, and yes, you must. I think you'll love the flavour. It's my wife's favourite. I once made it for a friend, who took it to a family dinner. She told me later that they ate it in silence punctuated by sighs of contentment!

                                                                                                                        2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                          I also make a really nice chestnut and pork stuffing for roast turkey, but it does not belong in this thread. I once added the logical ingredient to it - 'shrooms, and it was delicious.

                                                                                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                            Hey souschef - I know it's been awhile since your post, but did you ever post your recipe for stuffing anywhere? If not, could/would you?

                                                                                                                    2. This is my husband's idea of dream birthday cake: http://cookbookfixation.blogspot.com/...
                                                                                                                      He loves cinnamon buns but isn't a big fan of cake. Personally I love black forest trifle. Yum.

                                                                                                                      1. Definitely Dobos Torte, the Hungarian 12-layer cake with burnt sugar on top. When I make it for my birthday, I make two and freeze the second. The layers are really thin, like crepes, and in between and on the outside is a chocolate butter cream. Yum!

                                                                                                                        1. The Chocolate Blackout Cake from "Cooks Country" has got to be one of the best double chocolate cakes out there. Its not overly sweet, just incredibly rich. I have made it a number of times. It takes time because the pudding frosting has to cool but it is definately worth the wait. The crumb finish is a must, allowing for any mistakes to be covered over and look fantastic.

                                                                                                                          1. Strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream, fresh from the farm strawberries and the lightest vanilla shortcake possible. All for me.

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                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                              I like strawberry shortcake, too, usually on biscuits, but also on a light yellow cake, like the 1-2-3-4 cake. If I use cake, I bake it in a half-sheet pan, for maximum crust, and then cut it in bite-sized pieces and put it together as kind of a trifle, except only whipped cream, not creme patissiere. I like to macerate the strawberries the night before. Actually, I like to bake the cake the day before, too. I kind of like cake that others think of as "dry."

                                                                                                                              I also love trifle, but no booze. It can have all or any of the berries, the 1-2-3-4 yellow cake or genoise, and creme patissiere, whipped cream or both. I like to cook up some raspberries or blueberries with sugar, then get that good and cold.


                                                                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                Jay F, that sounds delicious! My oldest daughter recently made me a strawberry rhubarb shortcake as a surprise and it was so delicious. She added maple and nutmeg to the whipped cream this time and the biscuits were super light.

                                                                                                                                The trifle with bite sized cake pieces sounds like something I make from time to time with homemade vanilla pudding, loads of sliced bananas and gingerbread cake. That's a winner too.

                                                                                                                              2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                Me too! I make strawberry shortcake (with biscuits, not cake) for myself a couple of times in the summer.

                                                                                                                                Everyone else in my family likes it with cool whip and those little sponge cake cups from the store. Ack!

                                                                                                                              3. Almond/Pistachio/dried diced apricots in a not-too-sweet Vanilla-bean cake base: tart apricot filling, vanilla buttercream. Key is not too sweet; otherwise overwhelming, but celestial when made properly

                                                                                                                                1. I made this one a few years back ...

                                                                                                                                  Started with a moist vanilla cake with some butterscotch pudding mixed in. Then, I poked holes in it with wide skewers and drizzled in a mix of espresso, Tia Maria, and dark chocolate. I used a mix of dark chocolate and Tia Maria to spread between layers. Whipped up some cream and drizzled in just a touch of espresso to frost the cake, then topped it with crushed Heath bar and shaved dark chololate.

                                                                                                                                  It about did us in, especially after the decadent dinner I made, but was so good!

                                                                                                                                  1. The perfect cake would be a very moist white cake, with banana cream pudding filling along with sliced bananas on the pudding between the layers, then add a cream cheese frosting. This is so delicious.

                                                                                                                                    1. I have done this cake for years for family; even my little grandchildren ask for it for their birthdays.

                                                                                                                                      Split 2 yellow cake layers into 4; Sprinkle liberally with rum, spread with seedless raspberry jam , then with stabilized whipped cream (all except the top layer) then frost with chocolate fudge frosting.

                                                                                                                                      1. there is only one type of birthday cake ever needed:

                                                                                                                                        a fresh out of the oven, still gooey and melty, chocolate chip cookie cake!!

                                                                                                                                        1. I'm boring. It's all about white cake with white frosting for me.

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                                                                                                                                          1. re: janehathaway

                                                                                                                                            My favorite too if a bakery cake or when my mom made it for me.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: janehathaway

                                                                                                                                              Thank You!!
                                                                                                                                              White cake with white buttercream frosting. Now That's a birthday cake!

                                                                                                                                            2. To put the food/love thing into perspective, once or twice I made two dobos tortes, one for my birthday in mid-december, and one for my father's birthday -- he was born on Christmas day. (I figured once you're messing up your kitchen for one thing, might as well make two and put one in the freezer.) Well, my father died this year, and now I don't know what we'll be having for dessert on Christmas -- it won't be his birthday cake, that's for sure. But I'm really glad I made them for him while he was alive. You'll never be sorry when you make something special for someone you love.

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                                                                                                                                              1. oooh! Right now, it's definitely the Heaven and Hell Cake from Saveur.com
                                                                                                                                                AND the Twelve layer mocha cake from epicurious.com

                                                                                                                                                Some winners from the past that i've made:
                                                                                                                                                Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Epicurious. It's a cinch to whip together. It's so moist and it has layers of flavour depth. Make sure you use good coffee and, cocoa powder without dutch processing, and chocolate for it!

                                                                                                                                                Almond Praline Cake with Mascarpone Frosting and Chocolate Bark from Epicurious. While it requires some time commitment, it's a true showstopper.

                                                                                                                                                Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake with Cream Cheese and Butterfinger frosting (epicurious.com). It's super rich and not for the faint of heart! But it will definitely please the chocolate peanut butter lovers out there. The cake layers have a tendency to be dry, so I would recommend adding some oil or cream in addition to the use of the butter it calls for in the recipe.

                                                                                                                                                Big Bill's Carrot Cake from Dorie Greenspan. In addition to her cream cheese frosting, for the interior layers I make a whipped praline filling to sandwich the cakes with. It's a perfect party pleaser... for young and old alike because it's not too sweet and it has lots of goodies inside (raisins, coconut, walnuts)


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                                                                                                                                                1. re: sugarcube

                                                                                                                                                  Ooh, sugarcube, that heaven and hell cake looks most yummy! How's the quality of the chocolate cake portion? Would I be better off with a half recipe of my favorite chocolate cake recipe instead?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: TorontoJo

                                                                                                                                                    good question TorontoJo. I haven't made it.. yet :) Based on the ingredients, I would still give the chocolate cake portion a go. I gather that as long as you use good quality cocoa and coffee, it will taste fabulous.
                                                                                                                                                    Also, I can say for sure that the double chocolate layer cake (from epicurious) is a sure-fire win. It's tender, chocolatey, and rich (I used valrhona cocoa powder and callebaut chocolate).


                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sugarcube

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks, sc. And agreed on the double chocolate layer cake -- I've made it many a time. Let us know if you try the heaven and hell cake!

                                                                                                                                                2. I would make 2 simple white sponge cakes that I would poke holes into and then drizzle a tangy lemon syrup over top. These would be stacked with a lemon butter cream and a layer of black currant jam in between. I would like the whole cake "frosted" with freshly whipped cream and TONS of white chocolate curls. It might be nice to have some fresh berries on the side to make it all healthy!!!

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                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                    Can I come to your party? I'll bring a nice present and make sure my black patent Mary Janes are all polished up nicely. That sounds EXCELLENT.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                      You bet buttertart! Pull up a chair and I'll put the kettle on. Love your shoes btw! ; - )

                                                                                                                                                  2. Does anyone have the recipe for the cake that's made of layers and layers of crepes and buttercream? I'd love to try it this holiday break.

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cakediva

                                                                                                                                                      There are quite a few out there - one with green tea sounds great.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                        i can contest that this crepe cake was fantastic.

                                                                                                                                                    2. Nigella's chocolate raspberry pudding cake from how to eat. I have probably made it more than ten times now and it still makes me sigh with pleasure when served barely warm with a cloud of whipped cream. Also makes the best breakfast ever which I consider a "chef's treat" as I'm usually the one making it!

                                                                                                                                                      1. ten years later, i still remember the cake for my 50th fondly:

                                                                                                                                                        deep chocolate layers brushed with espresso syrup, layered with ganache and sliced strawberries, frosted with whipped cream.

                                                                                                                                                        1. My dream birthday cake is a giant Italian seven-layer cookie.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Dacquoise with chocolate whipped cream filling.

                                                                                                                                                            1. Made the Alton Brown recipe from Food Network of the Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese frosting for my DD's B-day earlier this month. OMG! I am not a big fan normally of Red Velvet, but this was outstanding. Extremely moist and the frosting was decadent and rich with cream cheese and butter. Would highly recommend it!

                                                                                                                                                              1. This. So much. I actually made it for my birthday last year. If I had a choice, I'd have it on my birthday every year for the rest of my life AND as my last meal. Well, the dessert, anyway.


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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: QueenOfTheSlipstream

                                                                                                                                                                    queen, would that be like a "bananas foster" cake? (ha, ironic that poster "banans foster" replied just after…)

                                                                                                                                                                    it sounded like a great combo of flavors. i'd love to see it cut. maybe some blogger will have done so….

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I was thinking very hard about one of my dream birthday cakes last night (the Zuger Kirschtorte, as in: http://technicolorkitcheninenglish.bl... ) and lo and behold, my dear husband served me a dessert that was almost as good with almost no work - a stale madeleine with (thawed) frozen sour cherries. Texture was similar to the meringue layers, taste along the same lines. A Kirschtorte would be delightful with sour cherries added. Ahh...

                                                                                                                                                                    1. There are so many cakes I'd love, but my ideal birthday cake would probably be chocolate, with layers of chocolate and mocha mousse, with raspberries and chocolate buttercream. There might be something Amaretto-ish in there, too.

                                                                                                                                                                      I love going through Marcel's Death by Chocolate Cake and pulling out various parts of recipes I'd like to combine. The recipes are involved, but so good.

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                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                                                                        That's an unusual combination - mocha and raspberries. I don't think I've ever seen them together in a recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                          I made a mocha pie for Thanksgiving, along with a raspberry key lime pie, and one of the raspberries rolled over to the mocha pie, and it reminded me how much I like the two flavors together.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                                                                            Don't you know that when you make two pies they are not supposed to touch each other! :)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                              Technically, I made six pies -- they didn't stand a chance at having their own space!

                                                                                                                                                                      2. For my wedding reception (hubby and I kinda eloped), my mother-in-law baked up a 3-tier cake of lemon, strawberry and chocolate. Oh, it was delicious, even though it was essentially gussied up box cake.

                                                                                                                                                                        For my birthday, I'd do everything from scratch, and nix the strawberry for a good vanilla bean layer, and add hazelnut to the chocolate. Lemon cake, when done right, is so fresh and bright that you never want to stop eating. : )

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                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JReichert

                                                                                                                                                                          one of my mom's favorite desserts was a limoncello cake with raspberry coulis. great combo!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alkapal


                                                                                                                                                                            yum...............sounds sinfully delicious

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                              it is tart and sweet and light -- which makes it especially attractive. ;-).

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Ok, while my "dream" birthday cake may not be very "houndish" it IS certainly delicious! Start with a devil's food cake mix and bake as directed. As soon as it comes out of the oven, stab several holes all in it and drench it with an entire jar of caramel ice cream topping. Let cool, then pour on a can of sweetened condensed milk. "Frost" the cake with cool whip and sprinkle a crushed up candy bar over the top. One of my friend's mothers made this for me when I turned 15...it's been a tradition ever since. My family simply refers to it as THE birthday cake.

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                                                                                                                                                                          1. my mom used to make a yellow chiffon cake with homemade strawberry butter creme frosting on top and between the layers...i love chocolater but this is a sentimental favorite!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Harvey Wallbanger Bundt Cake!

                                                                                                                                                                                1. So, my birthday is this week but since it's on a work night, I'm rallying my team for drinks in a local park on Sunday. I'm making strawberry bellinis (with a splash of Grand Marier/mint). I want to make a treat and it can be as simple a as bar cookie or brownie or something fancier. I just need it to be easy to transport and eaten by 12-15 people..thoughts? Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I'm not sure I could make this myself. But my dream birthday cake, which I had made at a bakery one year, is almond cake with espresso or coffee buttercream and fondant on top. Mmmmmm.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I have been checking this thread ever since I joined chowhound and I am still not completly sure if this is exactly my dream birthday cake. For me, this has been expecially hard to contemplate because I want it to be perfect!! But I believe my first dream birthday cake version, because no I could not be happy with just one, would be a four layer thin chocolate butter cake brushed with simple syrup alternating filling layers of chocolate ganache and dulce de leche caramel filling. Frosted with an airy layer of chocolate mousse, which would then be frosted with chocolate ganache. Served with whipped cream and homemade raspberry coulis. And yes it would have to be made from scratch, most likely by me, lol!

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                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                                                                                          I will second that! Sounds fabulous...

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. what I make for my husband's b-day: mocha dacquoise. Except I think I'd like raspberry.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I never got a cake for my birthday this year my birthday is April 1st . I'm still want my cake I mean I'm 30 it was a big birthday. So I am going to have to make my dream cake myself. A moist chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling and a salted Carmel butter cream frosting.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LEsherick2007

                                                                                                                                                                                            Happy belated birthday! That cake sounds delicious ... definitely make it (and then report back)!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                                                                                                              I need to find a great moist scratch chocolate cake recipe most times I just doctor up a cake mix but I want to do one by scratch oh and I have some unsweetened chocolate on hand I should use up if that will work in a recipe and I never made chocolate mousse before, I need a recipe for that, anyone?

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. My grandmother's specialty was a 3-layer German chocolate cake that featured German chocolate icing as well, not the traditional nutty topping. She made me & my siblings one of these for our birthdays for many years. I believe she got the recipe off the Baker's German Chocolate box. Cake was amazingly light and fragile & would tear easily during the frosting stage. I have the recipe but have just been afraid to attempt it, hers was so great!