Monday, June 01, 2009

ECL's Favorite Birthday Cake

Well people, another birthday has come and gone and not only am I a year older but I also have leftover cake which I can eat for breakfast for the next few days. I say job well done.

May 30, 2009
Name of cake: ECL's favorite birthday cake
Occasion: ECL's birthday!
Constituents: One layer yellow cake with chocolate-raspberry ganache

I used to hate baking my own birthday cake as it usually meant I spent my entire day baking and worrying that what I was baking was terrible, but this year was completely different. My real birthday was Wednesday--which I took off from work--and I had just been to a great birth the night before. The day was beautiful, my mood was euphoric, and I had lots of time on my hands. While listening to 80's New Wave, I assembled, premeasured, and prepped for my birthday cake in fits and starts. I had decided to bake my favorite cake for my birthday: yellow butter cake with raspberry ganache frosting. Simple, just enough chocolate, perfect with vanilla ice cream. I had also decided to bake a half sheet, as it looked like my birthday weenie roast was going to be about 23 cake lovers strong.

ECL's Birt-day Cake

I know I say this all the time, but I am so thankful for Rose Levy Beranbaum and her Cake Bible. This woman not only has the best freakin cake and frosting recipes I have encountered, but she also has this amazing section in the back of the book that allows the home baker to convert one of her recipes into whatever sized cake desired. In this case, her base recipe for her yellow butter cake had to be multiplied by 7 in order to bake up a half sheet cake. I already knew that a half sheet is about three 9 inch cake recipes and comparatively the math held true. Easy peasy.

Easy sure, but a home baker like myself who doesn't even have a K5 mixer (just a cute little 4-quart KitchenAid) can't mix up the batter for a half sheet in one fell swoop. On Thursday I tried to skirt around that by attempting to mix all the ingredients together using a hand mixer and a giant bowl. I'll pause a moment to let the absurdity of that situation sink in.

This must be an example of my KitchenAid dependence, this forgetting how powerful and strong my beloved stand mixer is. To actually think a hand mixer could power through a beautiful, thick, butter batter where there are 14 egg yolks, 700 grams of both flour and sugar, and 28 tablespoons of butter is sheer folly. And I think I might have burned out the motor for good. I was able, at least, to blend all the ingredients together even though I couldn't get the mixer going fast enough for more than a few seconds to properly aerate the batter. So I pulled out Ol' Trusty and in two batches beat the batter until it looked nice and silky and aerated.

And once more, I've gotta give thanks to Rose for teaching us home bakers how to mix a cake batter in such a way that you don't have to be afraid of overbeating, so that I could do what I did without worrying about my cake coming out all tough and depressing. Rose, you are awesome!

ECL's Birt-day Cake

After the cake was baked and cooling, I decided to wrap it up airtight and frost it the day of the weenie roast (two days later). I've done that before with Rose's butter cakes with no noticeable drying or spoiling of the cake, and I've left them out on the counter to boot. So I wasn't worried. Plus, when Cookie and I bought the hot dogs at CostCo I bought a lifetime supply of my favorite plastic wrap in the world, Stretch-Tite. This stuff sticks to everything! I slid the cake back into the cake pan, covered it with parchment paper so that it wouldn't stick to the plastic wrap, and mummified the cake pan with plastic wrap. Obviously there wasn't any room in the refrigerator (52 hot dogs were in there), so I stored it downstairs in the guest bedroom. (The downstairs is half underground with cement walls and remains a cool 50°F year round.)

Saturday morning I brought milk and raspberry puree to a boil and added it to a bunch of chopped semisweet chocolate. I made a double batch of Chocolate-Raspberry Ganache in order to have enough to frost the cake. (I decided to have just one layer of cake. Can you imagine how badly I would split a sheet cake?) It took awhile for the beautiful, shiny, tangy, rich, chocolaty ganache to cool down enough to frost, but when it did, frosting was easy. And delicious.
Align Center
how to make chocolate raspberry ganache

I topped the cake with swirls of ganache, tiny little nonpareils, and hot pink sanding sugar. Turning 36 requires hot pink sanding sugar.

The day was hot and sunny; we picnicked in the shade of big old evergreens on the local extinct volcano. After filling up on hot dogs, potato chips and deviled eggs, we broke into the cake. True to form, the yellow cake was tender, light and moist; not too sweet and a perfect foil for the intense, fudgy, raspberry ganache. A perfect foil for this girl's 36th birthday.

birt-day weenie roast

The cakes of birthdays past:
2003--I decided to make two cakes based on RLB's Star Spangled Rhapsody cakes for my 30th birthday.
2004--I made a two-tiered cake just to see if I could do it.
2006--I made ice cream cakes a la Baskin and Robbins.
2007--an awesome GF Tiramisu.
2008--the Lazy Bakers joined me in baking up Dorie Greenspan's Devil's Food White Out Cake.

(Wow. That's a lot of cake blogging.)


  1. You are right. It is a lot of cake to try to get together in our small Kitchen Aid mixers. I am glad you pointed this out as I have a large cake to make for a Christening soon.
    I wanted to do a dark chocolate cake from the Cake Bible. I have never done this large of a layer with her recipes. I guess I better start planning my plan!

    Your cake looks perfect for the wienie roast. I know the combination tastes good as I made it last year for my birthday too!
    I hope you had candles on that cake or maybe you aren't allowed such a huge fire risk in the woods!

    I am glad you had a wonderful day on your birthday. You deserve it, girlie! cheers x

  2. Yum! Excellent flavor combination! And Stretch-Tite rules!

  3. Anonymous2/6/09 12:12

    Lovely cake! Belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Jeannette.

  4. A birthday in a state of euphoria--along with a beautiful, delicious birthday cake. You can't get much better than that! (I also have a Costco supply of Stretch-Tite).

  5. We should start a Stretch-Tite fan club!

    Melinda, ooh, I can't wait to read all about your Christening cake! I've been able to do a recipe for a two layer 12 inch round butter cake in the KitchenAid, as well as a double recipe for a two layer 9 inch round butter cake, but that seems to be the limit. What size cake are you planning on baking?
    I didn't have candles--we forgot them, and I decided the barbecue fire was good enough.
    Thanks for the birthday wishes!

    Amanda, thanks! The cake and the plastic wrap are awesome!

    Jeanette, thank you!

    BBC, nope, I sure can't--the day (and cake) were perfect!

  6. Женечка! Поздравляю с днём рождением! Желаю тебе всё, что хочет сердце!


  7. Любимая Рая,
    Спасибо много!
    I can't think of anything else to say in Russian. Oh, except this:
    окно = veendow
    и всё.

  8. Hehehe! How about:

    Хитрая... like fox.


    I don't like the American system of government. It's сложный.


    Good times, good times.

  9. Just remembered another one:

    "He said 'спокойной ночи,' but it was 'доброе утро' he had on his mind!!

    (However,that was Jenni, re: Tobias, so not quite in the same vein.)