Although I make frosted cakes occasionally, birthday cakes are not really my forte. So when I had to get a birthday cake for my friend’s son, I decided to improve my skills and make one myself. It had been a long while since I last made a birthday cake, the last one I remember baking was a three layer cake for my daughter’s birthday a few years ago.
The birthday boy’s craze was strawberry this season. So I decided to make a two layer vanilla sponge with white butter icing and lots and lots of fresh strawberries. Since the tastes and preferences of 8 year olds are prone to changes, I wasn’t surprised that he changed his mind and opted for a chocolate cake instead. But I had already baked the vanilla sponge when I came to know about his new preference. So the initial plan of white butter icing was changed to chocolate frosting. I made this cake when I was in Kerala and the summer was at its peak with almost unbearable levels of heat and humidity. I could only do the frosting at night and still had to make many trips to the refrigerator to keep chilling the icing and cake before I could finish frosting the cake.
For the vanilla cake I used a mixture of 2 ¼ cups of all purpose flour and 6 tablespoons of corn flour. This makes the cake very soft. Since the frosting adds to the sweetness of the cake, the quantity of sugar mentioned in the recipe can be reduced by ¼-½ cup. The quantity of ingredients mentioned is enough to make two 9 inch cakes. I used the creaming method for this cake. Butter and sugar are beaten together till it becomes creamy and light. Then the eggs are added one at a time and beaten well. While making cakes the flavouring agent (vanilla essence, in this case) should always follow the eggs to get rid of any odour of the eggs. Then the sifted flour and baking powder mixture is added in small batches alternating with milk and beaten well.
For the chocolate frosting I used milk chocolate as the cake was for an eight year old but dark or semi-sweet chocolate could also be used instead. I had to make sure the frosting gets a smooth spreadable consistency. The consistency of the frosting is very important which can be adjusted by the addition of more milk. If the frosting is too thick, spreading it will be difficult and will also tear the cake and if it’s too thin it will run. If the cake is too soft to handle leave it in the freezer for 30 minutes before frosting. To avoid any mess around the cake while assembling on the serving plate insert narrow strips of aluminium foil under the cake on all four sides. Once the frosting is done these foil strips can be carefully pulled off.
I certainly needed a shot of caffeine after the hard work.
- For the cake
- All purpose flour 2 ¼ cup
- Corn flour 6 tbsp
- Baking powder 1 tbsp
- Strawberry fruit flakes ¼ cup (optional)
- Sugar (powdered) 1 ¾ - 2 cups
- Unsalted butter 1 cup @ room temperature
- Eggs 4
- Pure Vanilla Essence2 tsp
- Milk 1 cup
- For the frosting
- Chocolate 1 cup (broken into pieces)
- Butter 1 cup (at room temperature)
- Icing sugar 4 cups
- Milk 2-4 tbsp (use as needed)
- Preheat the oven at 180 degree Celsius / 350 Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.
- Prepare the pans by buttering and flouring two 9 inch cake pans. Lining the bottom of the pans with butter paper/ parchment really helps in releasing the cakes from the pans once done.
- Sift the flours and baking powder together.
- Cream butter and sugar using an electric beater or wire whisk.
- Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Once the eggs are incorporated add vanilla essence.
- Now add the flour and milk in small batches and mix well.
- Divide the batter equally between the two prepared tins and bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes or till a cocktail stick inserted comes out clean.
- Leave the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes to cool. Remove from the pan and cool it on a wire rack.
- Melt the chocolate pieces by keeping it in a bowl over simmering water and stir well.
- Once it’s almost melt remove from the heat and let it cool completely.
- Beat butter and icing sugar together till creamy.
- Add the melted chocolate and mix well.
- Add milk little by little till it reaches the required spreadable consistency.
- Place one cake on the serving plate and spread some frosting uniformly on the cake.
- Place the second cake on top of the frosting (with the bottom side facing up) .
- Now cover the cake with the remaining frosting.
- Pipe a border around the top edge of the cake and decorate with slices of strawberries and silver balls or whatever you fancy.