Saturday, May 22, 2010

Chocolate Birthday Cake with Strawberry Filling

In my last post I mentioned that I've been baking like crazy here recently since I had two birthdays to prepare for plus the Daring Bakers challenge, so here's the cake from one of the birthdays. One of my close friend's birthday was just recently and I was delighted when I asked her if I could make her a cake and she said yes! I was a little nervous about making the cake and picking out the perfect recipe. I certainly didn't want to disappoint my friend, especially on her birthday! She at first told me that she just wanted a cake with strawberries in it, but after prodding her for more information, she finally decided on a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and strawberry filling. "Great," I said! I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I have a strawberry patch in my backyard. It's not very big, there aren't multiple rows or anything, but it's substantial enough to put my family into strawberry mania during the summer. So of course, I turned to my backyard for the strawberries, which was great.

I think I went through multiple cake recipes before I finally settled on one. I decided that I wanted to make a three layer cake, and finally thought of this cake that I've seen members of the baking group "The Cake Slice Bakers" bake before. Again, I was nervous. Mayonnaise? Blegh, I hate the stuff. But I've seen it in multiple cake recipes before and everyone always says that it's not detectable at all and makes the cake extremely moist. So I had to put my faith in it. The filling stayed simple and easy, by just cutting up strawberries from my backyard and mixing them with some sugar and layering them in. For the frosting, I wanted to go with possibly my favorite type of American buttercream: a chocolate frosting that uses melted unsweetened chocolate in it. American buttercreams can be extremely sweet what with all the powdered sugar in them, but by adding the unsweetened chocolate, it seems to negate the sweetness and just leaves you with a delectable, chocolatey frosting. I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and snagged it immediately.

So...was the cake okay? Yup! It was great and was very well receieved! Here is myself heaving a sigh of relief. The cake was, as promised, very moist, soft, and chocolatey, the frosting was perfect, and the strawberries went well with the cake. My friend was happy, so I was happy. (Also, apologies for not having a picture of the inside. I didn't want to impose on my friend's birthday cake, ha ha.)

Triple-Layer Chocolate Cake (from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne)
Makes 3 9-inch cake layers

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (my friend isn't a fan of cinnamon, so I omitted)
  • 2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups hot, strongly brewed coffee
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (not low fat or fat free)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 9-inch round cake pans. (I actually only have two 9-inch cake pans, but used a 9-inch springform pan as my third, and it worked out just fine.) Line the base of each pan with parchment paper. (I HIGHLY suggest you do this. I didn't have any and so I sprayed and floured my cake pans but the cakes were quite difficult to get out [though still came out in one piece] use parchment.)
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Place the chopped chocolate in a large, heatproof bowl. (I would suggest one that has a spout.) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer. Pour the hot milk and coffee over the chocolate. Let stand for a minute, then whisk until smooth. Let the mocha liquid cool slightly.
  4. In a mixer bowl, beat together the eggs, mayonnaise, and vanilla until well blended. Gradually beat in the sugar.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and mocha liquid alternately in two or three additions, beating just until smooth and well blended. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.
  6. Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10-15 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack and carefully peeling off the paper. Leave to cool completely.
Instant Fudge Frosting (from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes about 5 cups, enough to frost and fill a 3-layer cake. I only made half of this recipe, and it was just enough to frost the outside of the 3-layer cake, so keep that in mind.

  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened (I used salted)
  • 6 tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk (I only ended up using 1 tablespoon in my halved version, which would be 2 tablespoons for this full recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor (I just used my stand mixer) and pulse until incorporated, then process until the frosting is smooth.

Strawberry Filling
This is only an estimate, as I didn't really measure anything.

  • 2 1/2 cups chopped, fresh strawberries
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar
  1. Place the chopped strawberries in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the sugar, to taste, over the strawberries and stir to coat. Allow the strawberries to sit for a few hours in the refrigerator to allow the natural juices of the strawberries to come out.
To assemble the cake:
  1. Situate pieces of parchment paper in a circle around your cake stand or serving plate. Place one layer of the cake on top of the parchment. Put half of the strawberries on the layer, being careful not to place them too close to the edge. Lay the second cake layer on top of the first.

  2. Place the second half of the strawberries on the second layer just as the first, and then top with the final layer. Press down slightly to make sure the cake is secure.
  3. Frost the sides and top of the cake, and then if desired, run your knife or spatula under hot water and use it to smooth the frosting. (I like a rustic look, so I didn't do this.)

  4. Pull the parchment straight out to leave a nice, clean edge. Decorate your cake as desired and serve. The cake is best eaten the day it is made (due to the strawberries).

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