the birthday cake: 2012

When I asked Josh what cake he wanted for his birthday this year, he gave me a few specifications:
:: something chocolate
:: something dense without a delicate crumb
:: something that incorporated berries

After some research in my Baker's Illustrated, I settled on the following:
:: devil's food cake
:: buttercream frosting
:: raspberry filling

I think I care more about Josh's birthday cake than I do about my own; I spent a couple of weeks figuring out exactly how to fill his cake desires. I took my cake and frosting recipes from Baker's Illustrated and adapted my grandma's strawberry pie filling recipe for raspberries. I made the cake and frosting the day before and assembled it all the day of the party.

When I concocted this cake, I had visions of satiny buttercream and perfectly interspersed raspberry filling--it was dreamy. This is how it really looked:

{Josh desperately wanted to use the leftover raspberry filling to decorate the top, and how could I refuse him at his own birthday party?}

Certainly not dreamy or satiny.

So I learned a few crucial things with this cake:
:: First, don't refrigerate buttercream. The recipe may say that you can, but don't. It loses all satiny-ness and looks very un-dreamy. (Maybe if I had thought it through more I would have realized that buttercream--made primarily of butter--would take quite a while to soften once out of the fridge. Maybe I could have whipped it more with a handmixer to regain the satin quality? Regardless, just make it the day of and save yourself the grief.)
::  When the buttercream ends up looking more like taffeta than satin, just let it go. It still tasted divine. Don't beat yourself up over refrigerating the buttercream.
:: It's okay for the birthday boy to decorate his own cake--even if it goes against everything you'd dreamed of for the confection.

Even given all my self-perceived shortcomings  in this cake, Josh pronounced it his favorite cake of mine that he's tasted to date. It filled all of his cake requests, and really, that's exactly what I wanted to begin with.

For accounts Josh's past birthday cakes, go here: 2010, 2011.


Jill said...

Wow, the research, effort and thought and execution spent for this cake was a gift itself!!

m.estelle said...

josh is so lucky to have you!!!

Miranda said...

Good job my dear! I have started to find that one of my favorite parts of making cakes is coming up with exactly what the recipient wants. It can be a real challenge but when you get it right your buttons are busting!

michelle said...

Josh's decorating cracks me up!

It does feel pretty great to give someone exactly what they want.

Susan@besusan.com said...

Josh's decorating additions...true love.

I could use a piece of that right now! Pretty innovative with the recipe!

Leilani said...

That was a yummy cake Charlotte!! I get all worked up about looks too but I have to say it was very delicious even though it didn't go exactly how you planned :)

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