the birthday cake

If you've tuned in within the past year, you might want to check out this post about Josh's birthday cake last year. I ended on mild success, but that success did not give me much confidence going into this year's cake. I'm baking in a new climate and the cake then was just for Josh and me, not a group. I felt the need to impress (I often feel this need and still am not quite sure what that says about me).

I thoroughly researched cake baking {again}. I read the entire cake section in The Joy of Cooking and all the tips in the Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook. After consulting Josh on the cake he wanted this year, I decided to make the time-proven new popular devil's food cake from the Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, the chocolate cake my grandma and mom make, one of the cakes that has accompanied me through childhood and adolescent-hood and quasi-adulthood.

After my research I made the following adjustments to my baking method (and don't laugh at the obviousness of these implementations).

:: use the right sized pans for the cake recipe—I know
:: use cake flour instead of defaulting to the cheaper Gold Medal flour option
:: take out eggs and liquids early so they can rise to room temperature
:: use an oven thermometer so I know for sure I'm baking at the correct temperature

So Saturday night I began, a little apprehensive because if this cake failed I wouldn't really have time to redo it.

Imagine my relief when the cakes came out looking like this.

Sunday before heading over to Jeff and Karen's I had to make the frosting, white mountain frosting, the frosting staple of my formative years. And I was just as nervous for this part as I was for the actual cake-baking. White mountain frosting isn't guaranteed to set up every time, and Oregon not as dry a state as Colorado or Utah. I was nervous.

I meticulously followed the recipe, and after some serious egg-white whipping and a good measure of baking prayer (Grandma always said it's okay to pray over your cakes), the frosting set.

Such. relief.

What I'd like to change/investigate for next time:

:: How did Grandma (and Mom and every other cake baker I know, for that matter) get her cake layers so uniformly high?? If the tops of my cake layers were a representation of how high the whole layer was, I would be mindlessly giddy.
:: Double the frosting recipe.  I like my white mountain frosting plentiful on all sides, thank you very much. (Apparently I missed out on that Petersen-clan secret.)

Thankfully (oh so thankfully) the cake was a success at the birthday dinner. We took home the leftovers. And I may or may not have had cake for breakfast. And if you looked in my lunch bag today you'd see that I packed cake for dessert. Because lunch deserves dessert. Obviously.


Karen said...

It looks delicious! Cake for breakfast is the best. I love that someone else tries to impress people. The first Thanksgiving Colt and I were married I cried because the sauce for something I was making didn't turn out right. I made it four times. I'm glad your cake turned out great the first time!

michelle said...

Oh, shoot! I should have told you to double the frosting recipe...

Glad they turned out, though! Birthday cake for breakfast is my very favorite thing about birthdays.

jt said...

It looks beautiful, Charlotte! Beautiful! That too, is the hallmark cake (frosting, really-) of my life. My frosting did not look so good the last time I made it, but yes, doubling is a necessity! But really, how did you leave your home of all places not knowing that cake flour is mandatory for a nice (not Lazy Daisy) cake?
Well done.
I am super jealous of the breakfast cake. And the cake in general. Frosting, really.

Marie Edgerton said...

It was delicious...I'm quite impressed with your baking skills! Thanks for sharing!

Denise said...

I feel like a failure as a Petersen mother for not telling you to double the frosting recipe! Your cake looks FABULOUS. Wish I had a piece right NOW.

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