I've mentioned in years past that I love to bake my own birthday cakes, because I really can't tolerate store bought. I was craving a yellow cake with chocolate frosting this year, which took me on a search for cake layers made with buttermilk. For the frosting, I wanted a mix of melted chocolate and cocoa powder in order to make it ultra rich. After looking at images online, visit websites and thumbing through my baking books, I found what I was looking for.
If you happen to own Martha's 'Cakes' book, you will find the recipe for buttermilk cake layers, along with a rich chocolate frosting recipe. It's a great birthday cake for those of us who like to keep things simple.
Once you bake and ice the cake, you can leave it as is, but you can also enhance it with colorful sprinkles, nonpareils or even some sparkly dragées. Add whatever you wish.
Swirled frosting is a simple way to frost a cake, because it looks so tempting and very homemade. However, if you feel like giving your cake a polished look, then use a bench scraper or spatula, and a cake decorating turntable to make it smooth. Finished this way, the cake will look perfect.
When you slice into the cake you will see what a nice crumb each layer has, and you will notice how dense and chocolaty the frosting is. Who would't like to have a birthday cake like this?
A closeup of the sliced cake shows you what I mean. I love the way Valrhona chocolate (both in cocoa and bar form) makes everything taste so good. The addition of the rainbow nonpareils gives it that nostalgic quality from childhood birthday parties and holidays.
A friend of mine wondered at the neatness of each slice. There is no mystery behind a perfect slice of cake, if you follow a few simple tips. What I do, is use a large 8" chef's knife (like a Wusthof or Henckels), and I make sure to dip the entire knife in hot water (wiping it dry with a clean kitchen towel) for each slice I make. That's all there is to it. This alone will give you a perfectly neat slice every single time.
If you haven't baked a cake in a while, give this buttermilk cake with chocolate frosting a go the next time your celebrating an event or a special person in your life. Even the non chocolate lovers will eat every last crumb.