Sunday, October 4, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me!

For us, September is a busy month for birthdays. Parents, grandparents, friends, aunts and most importantly (just kidding) Dave and I celebrate our birthdays!

You'd think since we celebrate our birthdays two days apart - mine is the 17th and Dave's is the 19th, one cake would be enough right? Nope. That's not our style, plus we both wanted different types of cakes...and I really like to bake...and eat cake.

When I was younger, my mom used to make the best cakes. One of my favorites was a double layer chocolate cake with raspberry jam filling and chocolate icing.
Mom...if you're reading this, it's still one of my favorites and if you make it, I will eat it. 

With that cake in mind, I wanted to make something similar. I decided on a chocolate cake with swiss meringue buttercream and fresh strawberries.

I never make chocolate cake so I don't have a "tried and true" recipe. I do have one that I've been wanting to try, but I was missing a few ingredients. I came across this one bowl chocolate cake recipe and decided to give it a go. Besides, only one bowl to wash is always good in my books!

As I mentioned above, this time I made swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) instead of regular buttercream. It's a little more work, but SMBC is a nice light, buttery, velvety option from the traditional, overly sweet, heavier buttercream I usually make.

Because it was my birthday cake, the deal was I would bake it and Dave and the girls would decorate it.
They did an amazing job!

Oh, and the recipe I used for the cake was really good!

One Bowl Chocolate Cake:

2 cups white sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water


Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare two 8" or 9" round pans (I used two 6" round pan). You can either grease and flour the pans, use non-stick cooking spray, or use homemade cake pan release (recipe below).

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, oil, milk and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes at medium speed, then stir in the boiling water
Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then flip them out on a wire rack and let completely cool before frosting.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 pound (2 cups) butter - I used salted, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day.

(Optional) To tint buttercream (or royal icing), reserve some for toning down the color, if necessary. Add gel-paste food color, a drop at a time (or use the toothpick or skewer to add food color a dab at a time) to the remaining buttercream. You can use a single shade of food color or experiment by mixing two or more. Blend after each addition with the mixer (use a paddle attachment) or a flexible spatula, until desired shade is achieved. Avoid adding too much food color too soon, as the hue will intensify with continued stirring; if necessary, you can tone down the shade by mixing in some reserved untinted buttercream.

Homemade Cake Pan Release:


1 cup flour
1 cup shortening
1 cup canola oil


Place all ingredients in medium bowl and whisk well by hand. The mixture will be smooth and creamy.

Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

When ready to use:
Dip a pastry brush into mixture and spread over bottom and sides of cake pan.

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