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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Birthday Cake

On Friday I celebrated my 29th birthday.

It was the kick off to the last 365 days of my twenties. Saying that out loud makes me a little nauseous.

I thought it was only appropriate to bake a cake - you have to treat 29 with respect after all.

Not just any cake though. Marble cake with Nutella filling and chocolate frosting.

In my book, marble cake is the best. Its the perfect combo of vanilla and chocolate - not too fancy, not too plain.

Please excuse the poor quality of the image below. Too much pasta and red wine makes me forget to change the settings on my camera.

I brought the cake to the restaurant and they cut 6 VERY large pieces of cake (read - they cut the cake into 6 pieces).  We gave it a good effort but in the end the wait staff made out like bandits. Hopefully they liked my birthday cake as much as we did.

Marble Cake
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
I had a hard time finding a recipe for marble cake that wasn't pound cake. In the end I just adapted a yellow cake recipe by adding cocoa powder to half of the batter. The chocolate buttercream perfectly balanced the Nutella filling as it wasn't too sweet. If you wanted to replace the Nutella with buttercream, you might want to opt for a slightly sweeter recipe.

3/4 cup butter, softened
3 eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder

- Preheat the oven to 375*F and grease two 9" cake pans. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

- Beat the butter in a separate bowl on medium for 30 seconds. Slowly add the sugar and mix for another two minutes once all of the sugar is incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each eggs. Beat in vanilla.

- Alternately mix in flour mixture and milk on low speed until just combined.  Split the batter in half and mix the cocoa powder in to one half of the batter. Using the vanilla batter first, fill both cake pans. Drop in the chocolate batter on top of the vanilla, making sure to leave space between each drop of chocolate batter. Swirl the vanilla and chocolate batter together with a knife. Try not to swirl too much or you will loose the marble effect.

- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the center comes out clean when a toothpick is inserted. Cool in pans for 10 minutes then turn out on to wire racks to cool completely.

- Once cakes are completely cool, trim cakes as needed to make the tops flat and even. Spread Nutella on top of the first cake, covering it completely. Top with the second cake and frost with Chocolate Buttercream.

Chocolate Buttercream
Adapted from Martha Stewarts Baking Handbook
This recipe makes enough to frost two 9" cakes

8 oz best quality chocolate, milk or dark (or a mix)
3 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons boiling water
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of salt

- Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. Alternatively melt chocolate in the microwave on 30 second burst on medium power. Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, leave to cool until it reaches room temperature.

- Combine cocoa powder and boiling water in a small bowl. Mix until well combined and all cocoa is dissolved.

- Beat the butter, confectioners sugar and salt on medium high speed until like and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and mix on low speed (try not to get it all over the kitchen like I did). Beat in the cocoa mixture, scraping down the sides as needed. The longer you beat the frosting the lighter and fluffier it will become.


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