The Birthday Cake Chronicles

7:30 am. I've never baked a cake before. I am a big fan of baking, and of baking things from scratch, but this is to be my first foray into layer cakes: a devil's food chocolate cake, with chocolate-orange glaze and butter-chocolate filling.

Who knew there could be so many different kinds of chocolate? The recipe calls for Dutch-processed cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate. Good Lord.

Today is Mitch's birthday, hence the birthday cake. I suppose I'll report back later, and let you know how the layer cake went.

(Happy Birthday, Mitch!)

10:29 am. So I put the new Beck CD on and rocked out while as I combined/mixed/boiled/brought to room temperature/added 1/3 of a certain mixture to 3/4 of another...Generally, I made a mess and wondered several times, aloud, if I'd even read the recipe before I got started.

1/2 c. of rather pricey "Dutch-processed cocoa powder" bit the dust when I had the inspired idea of dumping it into the pan of boiling water, rather than add the water to the cocoa as the recipe suggested. Ah, well. I scrapped that one (think chocolate cottage cheese, rather than the "smooth, dark mixture" the recipe described) and began again--the second mix looked smoother & darker, but still not quite like the picture.

The batter's tasty, though. The cake's been in the oven not five minutes and I've already got a stomach ache.

11:02 am. The cake is out of the oven and--get this--it still looks like a cake, minus some thumb-shaped dents I accidentally inflicted upon it with my oven mit. Test sample from the bottom of the cake pan confirms that, not only does it look like a cake, it tastes like one, too.

Cake is currently cooling.

1:47 pm. I had no idea that making frosting required so much muscle. Just finished chopping a full pound of assorted chocolates (semi-sweet & bittersweet), and fashioned them into a filling and a glaze. I made a mess of the cake plate, but I'm calling those wayward swipes of chocolate a "garnish". No one will know the difference.

The cake is in the fridge; the glaze is hardening.

I smell like baking chocolate and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

3:36 pm. Went down to the corner store (yes, we actually have a corner store) for vanilla ice cream and birthday candles. The woman in front of me in line had a lovely green bird perched on her shoulder that I'd recognized from downtown--ordinarily her husband/lover/odd bachelor brother(?) carries the bird and it makes me laugh because he, with his big white beard and black eyebrows, looks remarkably like a pirate, even without the bird.

When I brought the candles home, I broke the news to Mitch that he is now officially too old for a single box of birthday candles. (He's twenty-six.)

6:55 pm. I tried to take a picture for you, but my camera was feeling cantankerous, so I will describe it for you in the traditional way: with words.

It was a chocolate cake.

And it was scrumptuous. First, I artfully arranged the birthday candles (all twenty-five of them) in a 26, so that when I lit them they went up in a single, dramatic blaze, which was rather alarming. We turned the fans on and the smoke alarm off until Mitch had a chance to blow out his candles, and then we dug in.

I have to admit, it wasn't as gooey as I'd hoped, perhaps due to the "white wheat pastry flour" the girl at the co-op recommended in place of the cake flour called for in the recipe--seemed strange for a chocolate-y death cake to taste, well, healthy, but there you have it. Leave it to the co-op.

I call it a triumph, though. It looked like a cake, and everything.

Death by corn syrup. Mmmm.


Anonymous said...
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Thea said...

What? That one got past my word-verification barrier! How irritating.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear it was a success!! Happy Birthday, Mitch! Love ReBeJ

the boy said...

Sounds positively scrumtralescent! Happy BDay!

Pooka said...

Hi. I like your blog. I made a chocolate cake the other day too, but not nearly as complicated. I did have a layer of cream cheese in the middle. It was yummy. Baking is yummy.

Thea said...

Oh! I love cream cheese, what a great idea! (Thank you.)