May Cake: Christine’s Birthday Cake
It’s always nerve-wracking to meet the significant other of a close friend. So many questions: Will I like her? Will she like me? How will this change my friendship with my close friend? What on earth will happen if we don’t get along?
It’s very easy at times like these to jump to a variety of worst case scenarios, but in my experience, it all works out for the best. I’ve had a lot of meetings like these – introductions that made me shiver with anticipation and nerves. When I met my friend Seth’s girlfriend Christine, it was no surprise that I was nervous. The good news is we got along! I liked her, she liked me.
And then they moved to town and things changed again. How would this change things? We’d be seeing each other all the time. What if we don’t actually get along? What if we were just playing nice before?
But the even better news is that Christine and I really get along! With time, it just gets better! Blah blah like fine wine blah blah. Seriously, she’s awesome and I really like hanging out with her.
So when the time came to celebrate Christine’s birthday, I was bubbling over to help with the preparations. I baked up a crazy delicious and rather amusing birthday cake.
This time around I opted for a dark chocolate cake filled with homemade dulce de leche (I had a run-in with cake filled with dulce de leche at a wedding cake tasting a couple years ago and the memory of that first bite hasn’t left me yet) and decorated with my mom’s buttercream. You see, while I was home a few weeks ago, I had my mom take me to the bizarre, but fabulous, cake-decorating shop in my hometown and help me outfit myself with some basic cake decorating tools (toys) and I couldn’t wait to play with them.
The icing was tender and light, tasty enough to balance out the complexity of the dark chocolate and caramel of the interior. Definitely a multi-layered flavor.
Should I cut to the chase?
It was a damn good cake. Amusing, if not beautiful, and utterly delicious.
The Cake: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
from Nancie McDermott’s incomparable Southern Cakes
- 1/2 c cocoa
- 1 c boiling water
- 2 c flour
- 1 c sugar
- 2 t baking soda
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 c mayonnaise
- 1 t vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare two 9 inch cake pans (either with butter and flour or with Baker’s Joy, which I’ve found failsafe of late – if you’re going with butter and flour, also line the pans with greased parchment paper.).
- Mix the cocoa and boiling water in a large bowl and whisk well to combine. Set aside to cool.
- Sift together dry ingredients.
- When the cocoa mixture is cool, add vanilla and mayonnaise and whisk well to combine (check for lumps!). Add dry ingredients and beat until well blended and smooth. Immediately divide batter into pans.
- Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the edges start to pull back from the sides of the pans. Cool completely in pans, then invert onto cake stand to assemble and decorate.
The Filling: Dulce de Leche
The Icing: My Mom’s Buttercream
- 3 3/4 c powdered sugar
- 1 c unsalted butter (softened)
- 1 t vanilla (or more)
- pinch salt
- up to 1/4 c water (optional, if needed)
- Sift the powdered sugar. Do it. You’ll regret it if you don’t.
- Beat the butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar and salt and beat until smooth and creamy.
- Add vanilla and beat until smooth.
- If it’s still too stiff, add water by the teaspoon.
For piping buttercream, add more powdered sugar. You want it to be very stiff. Add color as desired and go crazy.