It’s my birthday! Well, it was my birthday last week. I’m a little late in posting this. In fact, blogging has been rare treat around these parts lately, and what better day to treat myself than my birthday!
Some people talk about the baker’s dilemma. Do you bake your own cake or not? For me, it’s a no brainer. Control freak that I am, I always want to bake my own cake. Unless someone wants to deliver a Momofuku cake to my door. Then I might change my mind, but this year nostalgia took over and I chose my childhood favorite- yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Of course, my childhood yellow birthday cake came from a box, so I wanted this cake to resemble that in the light and fluffy department, but perhaps less so in the alarmingly yellow department (seriously, what do they put in there?).
I’ve never been a big fan of canned frosting, so I wanted to do something different than the traditional chocolate buttercream. I thought about making my go to chocolate sour cream frosting, but after some googling, came across Hummingbird High’s recipe for creme fraiche frosting. By swapping out creme fraiche for the sour cream, I ended up with a frosting that was not too sweet, ultra rich, and chocolaty in all the right ways. I dare you not to eat half of it before you even start frosting the cake.
The actual cake recipe is a paired down version of the “All Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake” from The Cake Bible. Even though Rose Levy Berenbaum warns not to mess with the pan sizes, I almost always do. Sometimes I’ve paid the price for it, but this time it worked out. I love this cake because it has the lightness of a boxed mix that comes from the cake flour, and the egg yolks give it a rich yellow color and flavor. For the ultimate lightness, make sure to use bleached cake flour. Unbleached cake flour will make a denser cake.
In the spirit of being more grown up this year, I was going to leave the sprinkles off of my birthday cake this year. But for me, part of the pleasure of eating birthday cake is the mouthful of crunchy nonpareils that come with it, so I decided to go sprinkle crazy because I’m the birthday girl!
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
- 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) sifted bleached cake flour
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) superfine sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter
- 2 ounces (57 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1/3 cup (40 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (230 grams) confectioner's sugar
- 2/3 cup (160 grams) creme fraiche
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
- Grease 2 6x2 inch baking pans and line them with parchment paper.
- In a measuring cup, combine the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the milk, and vanilla extract.
- In a mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and mix on low for about 30 seconds.
- Add the butter and the remainder of the milk and mix on low until the dry ingredients are moistened.
- Turn the mixer up to medium speed and continue mixing for an addition 90 seconds.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg yolk mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and divide the batter between the 2 pans.
- Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes (my cakes took about 23 minutes, but start checking after 20) until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool the cakes on wire racks for about 10 minutes.
- Turn the cakes out onto the wire racks and cool completely.
- In a saucepan, heat the butter and chocolate over medium heat until smooth.
- Transfer into a heatproof bowl and whisk in the cocoa powder and vanilla extract.
- Whisk in 1 cup of the sugar and 1/3 cup of the creme fraiche.
- Whisk in the remainder of the sugar.
- Gradually whisk in the remainder of the creme fraiche until the frosting reaches a spreadable consistency.
- Place one layer of the cake on a 6-inch cake board.
- Spread 1/4 cup of the frosting on the first layer.
- Place the other layer on top and spread the remainder of the frosting on the top and sides of the cake. I didn't bother with a crumb coat and just slathered it on.
- Top with lots and lots of sprinkles!
Cake recipe from The Cake Bible
Frosting recipe from epicurious.com