So, as the special occasion baker, I asked my brother whose birthday was Thursday, what he wanted me to bake for his birthday. My brother, Mike is one of the smartest, most creative people I know. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of knowledge that is floating around in that head of his. He’s always been that way, too. But, aside from that… aside from the intelligence and creativity, he has a huge heart. And while it’s great to be smart and talented… having a big, open heart with lots of love to give is what I look up to the most in my big brother. For his birthday dessert, he simply asked for a yellow cake with chocolate icing. No problem.
The thing is… yellow cake is a color of cake… not a flavor! So, I waffled between a vanilla cake (which typically turns out white in color) and a butter cake (the more traditional yellow color). I finally decided on a butter cake after finding this recipe.
The icing… well, that was interesting. I wanted to make a buttercream. But, for whatever reason, like a dumb ass, I just made the recipe on the back of the Hershey's Dark Cocoa Box. Once I made it and tasted it, I decided that this wasn’t the frosting that I thought I was making… No, I wanted to make this frosting. But, I couldn’t find this recipe in my folder. This is one of those times that instead of being glad that I don’t have a computer at home…. I was quite frustrated. So, I had to find another buttercream recipe and decided to try one of Dorie’s buttercream recipes: Chocolate-Malt Buttercream. Except… I couldn’t remember if my brother liked Malt (incidentally, he does), so I left the malt out. I ended up using the dark frosting for decoration.
Anyway… long story short… This cake and frosting was a miss. The cake was dry and tasteless and the frosting was sweet and gritty (from the brown sugar). I think that not using the malt, made the frosting have less flavor, I should’ve amped up the chocolate since I was leaving the malt out.
I’ve not had a lot of luck with cake textures. It seems that I do well with chocolate cakes, they are usually pretty moist, but for whatever reason, I can’t get a really moist cake texture from any other cake. The cakes previously had still been good, but honestly… not as good and moist as a boxed cake. Which seems so weird to me. Homemade should be better, right?
The worst part is that when you bake for a special occasion you want it to be something really great. So, it sucks that my brother’s cake wasn’t really all that great. I’m not quite sure if it was the recipe or me (though, let’s be honest… the cake recipe was a 5 star recipe on Southern Living…. It must have been me), but I’m not giving up on cakes just yet.
Happy Birthday Mike! I’m sorry your cake kind of sucked.
Also…. As a side note, my blog also had a birthday of sorts… May 23rd was the one year anniversary of my blog! C-R-A-Z-Y!
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup malted milk powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup boiling water
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted, butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
To Make the Buttercream: Melt the chocolate with half the brown sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from the heat.
Whisk the malt powder and cocoa together in a small bowl, pour over 3 tablespoons of the boiling water and whisk until smooth. Whisking the melted chocolate gently, gradually pour in the hot malt-cocoa mixture and stir to blend—it should be dark, smooth and glossy; set aside.
Working with the stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining brown sugar and beat for 2 to 3 minutes more, until well blended. Beat in the salt and vanilla extract, then reduce the mixer speed to low. Scrape in the chocolate mixture and mix until smooth. Still working on low speed, gradually add the confectioners' sugar. When all the sugar is in, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for a couple of minutes. Lower the speed and add the remaining tablespoon of boiling water, then increase the speed and give the frosting another quick spin. It will be light and should be thick enough to use immediately. If it doesn't hold its shape, beat it just a bit more.