I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Perfect Birthday Cake

It was the little one's birthday the other day. She got a toy cash register. We went to Chuck E. Cheese. I'd never been to one before. I was hoping to get a beer with my pizza but it was not to be. After observing the clientelle for a while, I can see why serving alcohol would not be a good idea. My wife made her a great cake.

This recipe is taken from the Gourmet Cookbook, a compilation of the best loved recipes from Gourmet Magazine. It is described as the perfect birthday cake.

Devil’s Food Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

1 cup boiling water
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa (do not use Dutch-process)
½ cup whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 sticks (1/2 lb.) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs

Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter cake pans and line bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Butter paper and dust pans with flour, knocking out the excess.

Whisk together boiling water and cocoa in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in milk and vanilla. Sift together flour, banking soda, and salt into another bowl.

Beat together butter and sugars at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour and cocoa mixtures alternately in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (batter may appear curdled.)

Divide batter among pans and smooth tops. Place pans in middle of oven. Bakeuntil a wooden pick comes out clean and the layers begin to pull away from the sides of the pans (20-25 minutes.)

Cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes, then invert, remove paper and cool completely. Frost layer cake with buttercream frosting below.


3 large egg whites, left at room temperature 30 minutes
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup water
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
3 sticks (3/4 lb.) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened
2 tsp. vanilla

Boil water and brown sugar at medium high heat in a heavy saucepan. Clip a candy thermometer to the side. Wash down sides as necessary with cold water and a pastry brush.

When the syrup reaches a boil beat the egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until frothy, then add lemon juice and beat on medium until whites just hold soft peaks. Do not beat again until syrup is ready.

Meanwhile, continue boiling syrup until it reaches 238-242 degrees F. Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a heatproof glass measuring cup. Slowly pour hot syrup in a thin stream down the side of the mixing bowl of egg whites, beating constantly at high speed. Scrape sides as necessary and continue about 6 minutes or until completely cool to the touch. This cooling is very crucial.

With mixer at medium speed, add butter 1 T at a time, mixing well after each addition until fully incorporated. Beat until buttercream is smooth. It may appear curdled but will return to the desired texture when finished. Add vanilla and beat 2 minutes more.

*Buttercream can be refrigerated in an air tight container. Bring to room temperature and beat until smooth before spreading on cake.