It’s birthday month around here; both my husband and daughter celebrate August birthdays. And those Leo’s like to know they are center stage. A delicious and beautiful birthday cake is a great way to show some love. I know, it’s so easy to just go to your nearest grocery store or bakery and order one. But a really good cake is expensive, and if you don’t splurge, you are pretty much just getting a ton of sugary frosting on cake that tastes like it’s from a box. Yuck. Unless of course that’s your thing.
Really, making a cake is not difficult. It takes planning, good ingredients, foolproof recipes, a bit of time (but not as much as you think!) and lots of love. I have broken it down into 5 steps that anyone can master.
1. Start with a great cake recipe – TIME: About 1.25 hours.
Make the layers at least one day ahead. (see step 2)
Here are two go-to recipes:
Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake (Don’t let the word mayonnaise scare you. It’s a great chocolate cake!)
(I of course amend the recipe slightly, by substituting 1/4 cup brewed coffee, and 1/2 cup milk for the water)
2. Wrap and Freeze layers – TIME: About 20 minutes
When the cake layers have cooled, slice the curved top of the cake off with a serrated knife to flatten the surface. Time to taste the cake. Then wrap layers individually in plastic wrap and place in freezer. For thinner layers, slice them in half before freezing. It’s totally okay if they get a little bent but try to keep them flat in the freezer and definitely unbroken. The layers will thaw as you frost the cake and it will turn out perfectly. Or perfect enough.
3. Make frosting – TIME: About 45 min -1 hour
Here are two go-to recipes, one for the chocolate lover, one for the cream cheese lover, which covers everyone you know. I use both, one for between the layers, and the other to cover the cake. This can be made a couple of days ahead, but be sure to leave ample time for the frosting to soften. If you make a vanilla or cream cheese frosting set about 1 cup aside for top decorating. You can add food color or leave natural.
Best Chocolate Frosting. Ever
4. Assemble and frost cake – TIME: About 40 min.
It is important that the cake layers are frozen and frosting is soft/room temp.
Unwrap first frozen cake layer and place on cake stand. Let thaw about 5 minutes. Spread frosting on top of cake. Unwrap next layer and continue to add about a 1/2 inch layer of frosting in between layers. Feel free to add jam to one layer if you choose in place of frosting. Finally, frost the outside of the cake, working from the top, down around the sides. I use a spatula.
5. Simple decorating – TIME: About 20 minutes
A simple frosting bag and tip kit can be very useful here, but I also have been know to place frosting in a Ziplock bag, snip the corner and squeeze. Make a few pretty decorations, write Happy Birthday, and light some candles!