Birthday Chocolate Cake

I am not a great baker. I could say that I am an ok baker. I feel that is my status purely in the fact that I ~just~ bought an oven temperature. If you don’t have one, get one. I will admit, I wasn’t sold on having one. After multiple attempts in making cakes (all ending in disaster. We don’t talk about 2018 baking Jose… it was bad) I finally found a recipe (which I tweeked) and a method for the madness. I finally feel that I can begin attempting in baking and actually baking cakes somewhat often.

This year, with Covid-19, its been crappy (to not say shitty) for all my teacher friends. As a former teacher (turned full time director of Music & blogger), I feel for all of my friends. It’s crazy times, they are investing twice as much more money into their classrooms because they need to. All of this said, Eric (my partner in crime) has been working on this new school year essentially before the previous school year ended. He was working on what August would look like since May.

Eric’s birthday (August 22) always fall into 3 days: First day of school, First rehearsal with his top ensemble (he’s a high school choir director) in the form of a retreat or he’s stressting in what he needs to do to have a sucessful start up for the school year. We’re both somewhat of workaholics, its ok.

This year it was the latter. He’s been stressed out and he needed something special. Which, my thought was: “I’m not teaching. I’m somewhat happy that I’m not teaching, with my severe asthma and overall disagreeing that schools should reopen as Iowa is forcing it. I should do something. I should bake a cake!” *cue the flashbacks of the last 5 years disastrous attempt, especially 2018 cake*

For reference here is 2018 2 layer cake…

2018 cake… of distress

Yes. Hot mess. Now, lets see what 2020 brought:

You look like a model, you look just like Linda Evangelista!

2020: success, beauty, amazing. So… let’s go and see how I made it from 2018 to 2020. What was 2020 recipe and What did Eric say?

Ok, so this is the YouTube video I used to inform me: Preppy Kitchen. He’s awesome. A former math teacher and full-fledged baker. Good for him. He’s good at math and baking. Which I both am not great. NOT jealous at all.

Biggest differences: I used chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, vanilla paste, and a whole lot of color full language as I tried to force buttercream. to work in a hot kitchen (to which it won, put in the fridge and then I won the war).

If you’re like me, this will take you twice as much time (purely because I’m not a fast baker)

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 35-40 mins (depends on the size of your cake pan)
Oven temp: 350 degrees

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream 
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup strong hot coffee (I used lightbrite’s Ethopian worku)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1.5  tbs vanilla paste 
  • 3 cup all-purpose flour (360g)
  • 2 2/3 cup granulated sugar (533g)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (50g)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (4.8g)
  • 1 tbs baking soda (14.3g)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (5.7g)

Ingredients for the Chocolate Butter Cream

  • 1 1/2 lb confectioner’s sugar 680g
  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature (338g) 
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream 
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa powder (25g)
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla paste optional
  • 1.5 tsp espresso optional (I used lightbrite’s Ethipoian worku)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate (45g) (I put the chocolate chips in between the cake layers.

Ingredients for decorating:

  • 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and peanut butter chips chopped roughly

How to:

Make the cake:

  • Butter and flour 3 eight inch cake pans and line them with parchment paper.
    Pro tip: Make sure you have the same size cake pans! Do not be Jose in 2018.
  • Sift together the dry ingredients (including the sugar) into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine.
  • Add the wet ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together.
  • Add the wet ingredients the dry ingredients. 
  • Whisk to combine then mix on low for about a minute.
  • Distribute batter evenly to the three pans and bake for about 35-40 minutes at 350F or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I recommend rotating the pans halfway through the bake.
  • Allow time to cool for 10 minutes then invert onto wire racks to cool fully.

Making the Chocolate buttercream:

  • In a small bowl combine the semi-sweet chocolate with 2 tbs of cream then microwave for 40 secs on half power. Stir to combine then set aside to cool. 
  • Whip the butter for about 2 minutes using a paddle attachment (in a stand-up mixer).
  • Add the ¼ cup of cocoa powder, and the salt then mix to combine.
  • Scrape the bowl down and beat in the confectioner’s sugar slowly.
  • Beat in the cream. You may add the optional vanilla paste and espresso at this step. 
  • Mix until you have a nice, even consistency.
  • Beat in the melted and cooled chocolate ganache. 

Cake, Assemble!

  • Pipe chocolate buttercream between each layer.
  • Pipe the buttercream on the outside of the cake. Smooth with a bench scraper and offset spatula. 
  • Add a smooth coat of chocolate buttercream to the surface of the cake. 
  •  If you like, use a tip to decorate the top, I am not that fancy.
  •  Press chocolate and peanut butter chips to the bottom of the cake (or the entire side, if desired).
Eric & Moe Approved (he’s just sad he can’t eat it)

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