My youngest baby turned three the other day. And suddenly, time is just going at warp speed and I’m not sure if I can handle that.
You see, I’m one of those women who tries to beat everything. If someone tells me I’ll need to recover from something for 2 weeks, I love to prove them wrong and be up and running at the end of the first week. If someone looks at a piece of cake and says that it’s too rich to eat all at once, you can bet that my piece of cake is long gone. And though I know I’m aging and that time speeds up irrevocably, I keep fighting it. I know it’s futile, but it can’t be helped.
Distraction is a must when you start contemplating your existence, and I like to pour creative energy into birthday cake. This year, my daughter asked vaguely for “chocolate AND vanilla.” I couldn’t ask her to elaborate. She’s a miniature person with a limited vocabulary.
So one night, this idea was born. The base of the cake is pound cake, frosted with a simple vanilla buttercream. Poured on top is the richest, most addictive fudge glaze ever. And let’s not forget the bling.
Or in this case, the cake decorations. She wanted Dora, so Dora she got. I ordered these cake toppers on Amazon (a.k.a. my online home away from home) and piped on a patch of grass for Dora and her buddies to sit on while they eat their cake. It felt like a hopeful design for the upcoming warm weather.
The party was pretty low key, just family and a few friends. We saved the three year-old party for school. I don’t know about you, but the thought of 16 three year-olds running around my house was not appealing. Things are messy enough! This way, everyone got to enjoy a slice of cake in only relative chaos. Unfortunately, the guest of honor didn’t want her picture taken. But her siblings did!
Whenever you make a layer cake, work in three days. Day one is for baking and then chilling the layers, day two is for filling and stacking, and day three is for decorating. You could go faster, of course, but I hate being rushed.
When all is said and done, you have a beautiful cake that nobody will forget. If you’re not partial to kiddie decorations, this cake is classy without all the flair on top, or even with a single rose piped into the center. Go crazy! After all, it’s a birthday!
Black and White Birthday Cake
1 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
4-8 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon butter
1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoons water, divided
- Preheat the oven to 350. Coat the sides of two eight or nine-inch cake pans with cooking spray and put a parchment paper circle on the bottom of each pan. Spray the parchment circle as well.
- Combine the melted butter and sugar, stirring until smooth. Add the eggs, lemon juice, and extracts, and mix again. Add the dry ingredients and stir until incorporated. Finally, add the milk and mix until the batter is without lumps.
- Pour the batter into each cake pan evenly and bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and set.
- Immediately invert each cake into heavy duty plastic wrap and seal the cake in, leaving the parchment paper on the bottom.
- Allow cakes to cool, and then if you have time, put them in the refrigerator overnight.
- When you’re ready to fill and stack, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar until it’s fully mixed in. Add the heavy cream slowly until the mixture’s consistency becomes fluffy and spreadable. Set aside.
- Remove the cakes from the plastic wrap and peel off the parchment paper. Level the tops of the cakes and then, using a serrated knife, carefully slice each cake layer in half. If desired, brush the top of each cake with simple syrup (you can make this by boiling equal parts sugar and water, usually about 1/2 a cup each, for one minute).
- Layer the frosting onto the cake in layers, stacking each layer evenly over one another. Do a crumb coat first, making sure to scrape down the frosting smoothly. Refrigerate the cake for at least one hour. Cover your bowl of frosting.
- When the cake is chilled, ice it with the remaining frosting, being sure to mix the frosting vigorously before spreading it on a second time to get air bubbles out. Once again, even out the frosting and chill when done.
- Make the fudge glaze. Melt the chocolate in a saucepan with the butter and 2 tablespoons of water. When it's melted, take the pot off the heat and stir in the powdered sugar. Add the remaining tablespoons of water and stir until smooth.
- Allow the glaze to thicken for about 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. The glaze should begin to take on the consistency of frosting but still be able to be poured.
- When the glaze is ready, pour it carefully over the center of the cake, gently spreading it out from the center with a spatula so that the glaze goes over the top edge of the cake. Let it set in the refrigerator.
- If you want to go ahead and do any piping, dye the remaining frosting with a desired color and go crazy. I used a grass tip to make the (you guessed it) grass!
- Cut into slices and serve!