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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Birthday Cake

There are few things in this world as satisfying as a nice slice of birthday cake. For me, cake is synonymous with celebration, and I am 100% pro-celebration. The world is nasty enough as it is, and I don't see anything harmful in celebrating the day you(or anyone else) was born.

Disclaimer: It does not have to be your birthday to bake a cake. Bake a celebration cake for yourself because you didn't punch a guy today. You deserve it. 

I ended up making three birthday cakes for myself(and my friends) this year. I did one for work, one for a small private party with my D&D group, and then one with my Circle while we celebrated the esbat. The first one was this chocolate espresso cake with a marscarpone frosting(seen above). The second was a lemon zebra cake with dairy-free cream cheese frosting. The third was a pinwheel rum sponge with a dark chocolate ganache filling. How I did this in three days I will never know. I must be insane.

This cake is entirely dairy-free, so my boyfriend can also enjoy it!
Dairy-Free Lemon Zebra Cake with "Cream Cheese" Frosting
yields 2 8" layer cakes

  • 6 oz(6 each) large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 12 oz can coconut milk
  • 16 oz cake flour(or 14 oz AP flour + 2 oz potato/corn starch)
  • 14 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 8 oz grapeseed oil(good quality olive oil works nicely, too!)
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Pink food dye, A/N*

  • 16 oz(2 pkg.) Daiya non-dairy cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 oz shortening
  • Powdered sugar, A/N(this may vary depending on humidity, how stiff you like your icing, etc.)
Measure out all of your ingredients and preheat your oven at 350 degrees F. Prepare two 8-inch cake pans by greasing the tin and lining with parchment paper. Combine all of your dry ingredients into the bowl of your standing mixer, fixed with the paddle attachment. Stir the dry ingredients with the paddle and add in the grapeseed oil. Let that stir for about 30 seconds, then add the egg whites, one at a time, until all incorporated. Add the coconut milk and extract and stir until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed. Divide the batter into two bowls equally and dye one of the portions pink. You can also dye it purple, black, brown, blue, heliotrope, cyan...do what you like! I just personally like pink...

Cake is best-paired with a late-night D&D session with your best buddies...
Using ice cream scoops of equal sizes, alternate the colored scoops of batter with the plain scoops of batter in the pan, dropping each one in the center, atop each other, to create sort of a target-looking mass. If you want even stripes, I suggest not shimmy-shaking the pan after each addition. Simply let your batter settle on its own, even if it does take a few minutes per layer. Trust me, it's worth it!

Bake at 350 until done, about 24 minutes, or until a toothpick is safely inserted and has come out clean. Cool in the pans for about 15 minutes, on cooling racks, before removing. 

Simply make the buttercream as you would make any cream cheese frosting. Add as much or as little powdered sugar as you like, depending on your preference for soft vs stiff. No matter what, however, make sure that your frosting is chilled, and make sure your cake is chilled, before assembling. 

Trim up the cakes to have nice flat tops and even sides. Feel free, of course, to set these scraps aside for snackies; after all, it's your (un)birthday! You can also freeze your cakes, if you like, to ensure that they won't melt your delicate frosting. Both items should be quite cool before proceeding to decorate, just like all other cake decorating pursuits. 

You can never have too many sprinkles...
I decorated my lemon cake with candied pansies(grown by myself) and organic sprinkles. This was the cake for my actual birthday party, which was celebrated with my friends. The chocolate cake, seen above, was made for work, and I was just feeling like making a nice chocolate cake. 

This third cake was an experiment, made for a for Circle of Fountains meeting, my wonderful sisters. We try to get together several times per month, be it for circle meetings, esbats, or just hang-outs. Abby's birthday was a bit before mine, so I thought it would be fun if we could share a birthday cake. I decided to make something a bit more fun...

Abby: "Only you would decorate it with a big-ass bow..."
I'm sure you've seen a jellyroll cake. It's basically a spongecake that's baked in a sheet pan and rolled while it's still warm, filled with jelly, jam, or ganache, If you watch the Great British Bake Off the way I do, I know you've seen people go nuts over them! You can also use swiss rolls to make fancier things like Charlotte Royales, like this one here, at SugarHero, a blog I very much enjoy. 

Charlotte Royale (Swiss Roll Cake) | From SugarHero.com

My own experiment was a simple butterscotch flavored sponge cake, filled with a dark chocolate cream, stood up and rolled. How did I do it? Simple!

Bake a spongecake in a sheet. Cut your sheet in FOUR EQUAL STRIPS crosswise. Fill each with a bit of your filling of choice. Roll the first one with a nice tight spiral, as normal and stand up on a cake board. Add your next sheet around it going in concentric circles until you run out. You may cover the outside with more ganache/filling/frosting, or just leave it plain. I kept it simple, since it was an experiment, and wanted the opinions of my friends. 

It's a little janky-looking, but still tasted good!

They liked it, even though it was a bit messy. I kind of slapped it all together at once... Here's how I made it!

Butterscotch Sponge(adapted from my Vanilla Sponge, here!)

  • 7 eggs, separated
  • 2.5 oz cake flour
  • 5 oz granulated sugar
  • 1 oz powdered sugar
  • 4 - 5 drops butterscotch essence(or 1/2 tsp butterscotch extract)
Combine the butterscotch flavoring, a pinch of salt, the egg yolks, and half the sugar with a whisk. Add in the flour with a spatula to create a smooth paste. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whip the egg whites, powdered sugar, and remaining granulated sugar to stiff peaks. Fold in the whites, about a third at a time, until fully incorporated. Spread in an ungreased half-sheet pan lined with a parchment sheet. 

Bake at 375 until set, about 12 minutes. When the cake is still warm, tip out into a clean tea towel(dusted with powdered sugar) and gently pull away the parchment. Roll your cake up, nice and tight, and leave for about five minutes, just to get it to about room temperature. Spread your cake with your filling of choice, be it jam or ganache, and roll up again. This is, of course, making a regular roll, instead of my stand-up roll above. You can do whatever you like. It's you that's eating it, right? Decorate your cake with cream. Decorate it with berries. It's cake. It's all your decision. Right? Right. 

Just felt like showing off this one. It's fun. 
Happy cooking(baking) and happy eating!