Friday, July 20, 2007

More Birthday Cake

Although my running buddy John won't be celebrating his birthday for another week, we need to celebrate it after Sunday's long run at the lake because Brendan will be away for John's birthday. Since I'm solidly booked all day Saturday, between a race in NYC and the arrival of a certain highly anticipated series-concluding tome (not to mention the possibility of our second screening of Hairspray), I made John's cake today. We blessedly have gotten lucky with a low-humidity, cool bit of weather, which certainly will help with cake preservation and definitely made it not a chore to turn on the oven this morning.

This cake looks a lot like the one I made for Brendan, but it's not the same. After years of seeing it on the packaging, I finally have made the Deluxe Devil's Food Cake from the Softasilk cake-flour box. It's a pretty straightforward buttermilk chocolate cake made with Dutch-process cocoa powder. The frosting is also a pretty basic powdered-sugar butter cream. I can only hope and assume that it will hold up better than the white chocolate-cream cheese frosting of Brendan's cake.

One nifty touch to this recipe is a bit of almond extract in both the cake and in the frosting. I can't recall having seen that in a devil's food cake before. Because I used colorless vanilla extract, the frosting held onto its pale white shade.

Deluxe Devil's Food Cake

2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 large eggs
2-1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-1/4 cups buttermilk

1-1/4 cup (2-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
8-9 tablespoons milk
7-1/2 cups (2 lb.) powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350F. Prepare three round 9-in. cake pans (grease, parchment, grease, flour).

Beat sugar, 1 cup butter, vanilla, and almond extract in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; beat into creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. After all wet and dry ingredients are combined, beat 1 minute longer. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake for 26 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

For frosting: Beat butter, vanilla, and almond extract in a large bowl of an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually alternately add milk and powdered sugar, scraping bowl as needed. Beat on high speed, adding milk by the tablespoon until frosting has a spreadable consistency. Frost one layer; top with second layer, then frost that layer; finally, top with third layer. Frost top and sides of cake.

This cake is a perfect candidate for a crumb coat. After the three layers have been built into a devil's food tower, coat the sides with a very thin, light layer of frosting to trap crumbs. After the crumb coat is on the cake, frost the sides and top.

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