How are you? How did you spend your long weekend? Matt, Teddy, and I decided to take it easy. Apart from making this cake, we went for a few walks and napped. Sunday was Mavis’s birthday (she’s 3!) so we spent a lot of that day singing her “Happy Birthday” because once you finish singing a song, Teddy does the sign language sign for “more,” which is really hard to say no to.
After Teddy went to sleep, Matt and I watched a lot of television. We started the Netflix series, Chef’s Table, which I initially wasn't interested in at all because I thought it was yet another culinary-based television show. (I think I might have even thought it was a competition?) But we are 2.5 episodes in and it’s been fantastic, even dare-I-say-it inspiring, especially the one on Dan Barber (although I am a bit worried about Barber’s overall well-being and stress levels). We also watched the movie, Blue is the Warmest Color, which I loved. There was something so insanely refreshing about watching a film that moved so slowly and where the main character, who is a teenager, actually looks like a teenager and who isn’t caked in makeup. I also finished listening to Amy Poehler’s book, which I mostly really enjoyed, and of which I feel like I took away three main points about her life. One: Wow, she really didn’t enjoy the process of writing her book. Two: Wow, she smoked (smokes?) a lot of pot. And three: She’s just like us! She gets sad and frustrated and reads Pema Chödrön!
But let’s talk about this cake, shall we? It’s that time of year where we celebrate Matt’s life by making him a layer cake of his choosing. This birthday, he went with chocolate and chocolate. And since that Vanilla Celebration Cake was so amazing, when it came to picking out which recipe to use, I decided to stick with Jane Hornby’s What to Bake and How to Bake it.
And for the most part, this cake was just as great as the vanilla one; the recipe is clear and simple, and the cake turned out like a dream. The only thing was that my icing didn’t thicken up as promised, though this may have been because I didn’t given it enough time to do so. The problem was that we were losing light and we didn’t want to have to wait until the next day to ice it / photograph it / eat a slice.
In closing, happy birthday to Matt—the perpetual hero of this website and my life!
And just for fun, here’s the history of Matt’s birthday cakes/meals on this site:
One year ago: Scroll down to see the vanilla/vanilla cake with a basket-weave motif
Two years ago: Funfetti!
Three years ago: Classic yellow cake with vanilla icing
Four years ago: Crack pie, a salad with creamy dressing, and onion rings!
Five years ago: Stuffed roasted garlic paste and blue cheese hamburgers (Holy sh*t! We were so young! We ground our own meat.)
|We turned around for one second and this happened.|
|Incidentally, ask Matt about the time he did this to a wedding cake at our dear friend's wedding.|
What to Bake and How to Bake it
For the cake:
1 1/4 sticks (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) butter, plus extra for greasing
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups light-brown sugar
For the chocolate frosting:
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate (50-70% cacao, depending on your taste), chopped
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350F. In a small saucepan, gently melt the 1 1/4 sticks of butter. Remove from heat and whisk in the milk, oil, and vanilla. Meanwhile, grease two 8-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper.
Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, then sift into a large bowl.
Add the brown sugar and break up any lumps. Make a well in the center and add the butter mixture. Using a whisk, slowly mix the ingredients together, then give it a good beating until smooth and evenly blended. Using a spatula, divide the batter equally between the pans and spread it flat.
Bake until the cakes are risen, firm, and have shrunk back slightly from the edges of the pans. Let cool in the pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Make the frosting: In a medium saucepan, stir the condensed milk and cream over low heat until it starts to bubble at the edges. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate, butter, and vanilla. Let the chocolate melt, stirring and beating occasionally as it cools, until thick, fudgy, and completely cooled.
Assemble the cake: On a cake plate lined with strips of parchment paper, sandwich the cakes together with 1/2 cup frosting. Spoon the remaining frosting over the top of the cake. Spread it out thickly, then, working on a quarter of the cake at a time, work the frosting over the edge of the cake and down to meet the plate. Try to keep going in one fluid movement. Repeat all over. Smooth and swirl the frosting as you like, or leave it rough.
Let the cake sit somewhere cool for an hour (or up to a day) before slicing.