Yellow Birthday Cake + Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Most homemade birthday cakes come from a box these days. Cakes made from a box have a distinct, nostalgia-inducing flavor that I think people enjoy on their birthdays, so for this cake I wanted to mimic a yellow cake made from a box, but make it completely from scratch.
I chose a recipe from Bakerita for the cake and a recipe from Confessions of a Tart for chocolate buttercream, and set out to bake my first cake completely from scratch. I debated making ganache, but decided buttercream had a more classic birthday cake feel to it.
This was a fun adventure in the kitchen for a friend's birthday party. I only had one round cake pan, so what I literally did was combine the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla then divided the mixture equally into two bowls. I mixed half of the flour immediately, then added it and half of the the buttermilk to one of the bowls and baked it in the oven for 45 minutes. Once that cake was baked and cooled, I made the other half of the flour mixture and combined it with the other bowl of the butter/sugar/eggs and then baked that cake the same way. Probably not the most effective way to bake a layer cake. Maybe I should invest in another round pan, although I'm not sure our small apartment cabinets can take anymore kitchen gear.
I was so paranoid about the cakes breaking apart as I removed them from the pan. I know I have a problem of not letting baked goods cool enough before I handle them, so I was super careful this time around. I am glad to report that the cakes survived my handling of them.
I tried my best to decorate this cake. I pulled up all sorts of websites, watched tutorials, got out the cake decorating tips, cut the tops of the layers to make them flat, and whipped up some delicious chocolate buttercream. More of it than I would like to admit made it to my mouth instead of the cake. I managed to get the decorating tip all set up and the frosting into the bag, but no matter what I did the frosting would not retain its texture. Maybe my frosting didn't have the right texture or the temperature of the kitchen was too hot?
In the end I just used my icing spatula to smooth everything out and dumped a bunch of colorful sprinkles on top. Decorated.
By the time I was finished making this cake, I was exhausted. I had made a ginormous mess, which needed to be cleaned up immediately since the celebration for the receiver of this cake was happening at our apartment, and my feet were tired from my two trips to the gym (to make up for eating this cake), and all of the running around while making it. I know this would be much easier if I had a better kitchen, but I seriously don't think I could ever open a bakery, as Dustin suggests I do. I would however like to take a cake decorating class. I think it would be quite beneficial in taking my baking to the next level.
But we all had a great time celebrating and eating this cake later on that evening, so it really didn't matter what it looked like. Also, I'm very pleased with cake flour and the texture it gave to my cake. It's definitely worth searching out again next time I bake a cake. Safeway didn't sell it, and I got the last box at Whole Foods. Dustin said the texture reminded him of something from his childhood, something he liked, so overall, I'd call my first use of cake flour a success.