Monday, May 4, 2009

Birthday Cake for Mr. Pleasant

Each new year deserves quite the celebration - and for me that celebration needs cake. Great cake, make you wiggle your toes in culinary exstasy kind of good cake. The enjoyment of said birthday cake depends on a number of things of course - and I truly, honestly believe that the love put into a cake, no matter what the recipe, ingredients or skill, truly make the expereince the most rewarding. Perhaps nothing so dramatic as the magical realisim of Like Water for Chocolate, when the embittered cake baker pours all of her hurt, sorrow and anger into a wedding cake that makes all the guests suffer as she has. No, something more along the lines of sharing something with the people you care about. Birthday cake that my mom or grandmother made always tasted magical somehow. One of the first cakes I ever made all by myself as a kid, albeit from a mix, tasted really, really good to me - surely because of the hope and excitement I poured into it and pride I had in it. That said, I've also made some pretty awful things - no matter what feelings I was channeling at the moment - although in doing so, have good stories that my family still laugh about (ask my sister about the cinnamon bun that exploded the microwave sometime).
So yes, homemade, lovingly made and proudly displayed cake can be very tasty. It's even better when the cake is really, really amazingly delicious. Definitely a testament to Ms. Bernbaum here on the cake itself - such delicate crumb, velvety texture - something I admit to not always achieving with every cake I make. She broke down the basics to make a fool-proof, fabulous cake. It's a bold move to title one's cookbook the "Cake Bible" but Bernbaum does it credit!
Raspberry Chocolate Cake

Cake (from Bernbaum's Cake Bible)

1/2 c + 3 Tbs dutch process cocoa
1 c boiling water
3 large eggs
2 1/4 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 + 2 Tbs sifted cake flour
1 1/2 c sugar
1 Tbs baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 c unsalted butter, softened
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 9 x 1 1/2 inch round pans and line with wax or parchment paper (also greased). Wisk together cocoa and boiling water, cool to lukewarm. In another bowl, lightly combine eggs, vanilla, 1/4 of cocoa mixture. In large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add butter and remaining cocoa mixture. Mix on low until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down sides. Gradually add egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addtion. Scrape batter into pans, bake for 25-35 minutes - until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and cake springs back when lightly pressed.
approx. 3/4 c raspberry jam ( I used a combo of black and red raspberry jam)
1/4-1/2c frozen raspberries, thawed and drained
dash (to taste) of raspberry rum (we had on hand) although framboise liquer would be lovely
basic vanilla buttercream
powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, milk
Finishing Touches
solid milk chocolate, warmed in hand then shaved. pressed lightly to sides of cake with wooden spoon

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