How many people can say they made NO bad decisions on their 21st birthday?
Well I for one feel really good about how I spent my birthday yesterday! The food, the drinks, the people were all really special, and I’m glad I had a day to celebrate before my upcoming week of summer school finals!
I hope this cake that I am so proud of makes up for not posting a dessert last week! Honestly, I don’t know that I have any devoted-enough followers yet that anyone noticed I skipped a week, but oh well!
For someone who runs a baking blog, I actually haven’t decorated many layer cakes (this is my second one ever!!!). Having a smaller family, I guess I never really got the chance, and plus, I didn’t grow up with a baking family either. Desserts, themed ones of course, were often purchased for parties and such. However I really really love cake decorating and I was super excited to make my own cake this year! I was like 100x more excited to make this cake than I was about going drinking. Typical 21 year-old, amiright?
My birthday celebrations sort of started last week actually. My boyfriend’s mother was so kind as to dedicate family night to my birthday — she made a German chocolate cake for me (so good, and I wish I had a picture to share!!) and I was the lucky recipient of a Wilton decorating tip set which I was so happy to use for decorating my own cake! I’m not an expert at this by any means, but I will share some tips from my experience.
It seemed like there was so much to do, so I made a little checklist for the order that I should bake or mix things up so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed. These aren’t that detailed, but it sure helped me to get organized:
- Bake cakes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then place parchment side down on cooling rack.
- Cool cakes in fridge before leveling. Wrap them in plastic. Cool in fridge until cakes feel firm.
- Level and torte cakes if possible (I didn’t end up doing either — my cakes came out very flat anyway, and I didn’t want to risk torting since the cake was so soft). Prepare a simple syrup and wash the cakes lightly with it. Put cakes in fridge again, wrapped.
- Prepare buttercream and filling. Put 4 parchment slips around cake board to make cleanup easier after frosting (I actually forgot to do this and everything was fine).
- Put smear of buttercream on cake board middle to stick the first layer to. Place the first layer down.
- Pipe a buttercream dam around layer to hold the filling, and then put down an even layer of filling inside. Stack the second layer on top. Refrigerate again if needed. Do the crumb coat, then cool in fridge until the crumb coat is stiff.
- Finish frosting the cake and decorate!!
The filling I chose was a chocolate chip cookie dough (with no eggs), because birthdays, especially the big 21, are supposed to be excessive, right? This filling was such a good choice. I will put links to all recipes I used down below, as well as my own recipes/instructions for the simple syrup and buttercream.
Every time I was procrastinating from summer school studying in the past two weeks, I was watching cake decorating videos and reading recipes and tips online preparing for this baking adventure! It’s good my classes are almost over because now I don’t have another good excuse not to study. And yes, cake was an excellent excuse.
I really am extraordinarily proud of myself for this thing. All my friends loved it even though they were pretty sure they were developing diabetes on the spot. I shared a piece with the server at the restaurant and he said it tasted better than his mom’s homemade cake (seriously, getting someone to say a dessert as nostalgic as birthday cake is better than mom’s is like the best compliment ever!! Sorry Bearded Server’s Mom!). He gave me his email so I can make him a birthday cake that he’ll pay for. You know ladies (or gentlemen), if you want to pick up a guy at a bar, just bring in a massive delicious cake and hand out slices and you’ll be getting contact info in no time. 😉 It was actually kind of weird when that happened. I was like, “Boyfriend! I totally didn’t mean to solicit that guy’s contact information! Did I just accidentally hit on him? I just want to give people cake!!!”
Chocolate Cake: Sally’s Baking Addiction Triple Chocolate Layer Cake
Cookie Dough Filling: EAT.DRINK.LOVE’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cake
- Place sugar and water in a 1:1 ratio in a small pot. For this cake, 1/2 cup each was more than enough with leftovers.
- Place the pot on medium heat and let simmer about 3 minutes. Then cover and take off heat to cool.
- Once the syrup has cooled, you can stir in different extracts, liquors, or other flavorings. I added a few drops vanilla extract and almond extract. Store in the fridge when not in use.
- To moisten cake, use either a pastry brush or plastic squeeze bottle. Either way, be sure not to over-apply the syrup or the cake will be mushy. Apply a few drops of syrup before storing the cake in the fridge or freezer, or just before frosting.
Light Cocoa Buttercream in Mauve
This buttercream was enough to frost a 2 layer cake, or 2 dozen cupcakes. Measurements of powdered sugar are approximate, as I add to taste and and to consistency. I don’t have exact measurements for the color, but I used Wilton Red-Red and Violet gel Icing Colors.
- Whip 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter and 1 cup shortening (I used butter-flavored) with a hand mixer for 3 minutes, until butter is lighter and more airy. All butter or all shortening can be used, or in any combination, depending on your preference. I wanted the butter for taste, and the shortening for better stiffness in this hot weather.
- Add in 2 tsp. vanilla extract (I used a vanilla bean paste) and 1/2 tsp. salt and continue to mix until combined.
- Slowly add in powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time until desired consistency and sweetness is reached. I used approximately 7 1/2 cups. It’s alright if it seems too dry at this point, since milk or cream will be added to thin as desired.
- To deepen the color of my buttercream, and for the taste, I added about 1/4 cup cocoa powder (Hershey’s Dark). This made the beautiful mauve color possible here, and I also used it for my Dany’s Dragon Egg Cupcakes. Adding a small amount of cocoa gives almost a red velvet taste since there’s a detectable combination of chocolate and vanilla flavors.
- In a separate bowl, mix 3 Tbsp. cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. milk or cream. The cornstarch is optional, but helps stabilize the buttercream for hot/humid weather. Add this mixture, or plain milk or cream, to the buttercream and beat in. More can be added if the buttercream needs to be more thin.
- Once desired consistency is reached, color can be added at this point, or the buttercream can be used. If liquid color is used, it changes the consistency, so extra powdered sugar may be needed to compensate. Gel colors combine more easily, and don’t change the consistency for the most part. To use gel colors, dab a toothpick into the color, then apply it to the buttercream. Use a new toothpick each time so that the color is not contaminated.
Sadly, I did not make my 1st birthday smash cake above, but I totally could have if someone would have just trusted me with the hand mixer already. I could have been a pastry prodigy by now!!
I was so so happy with how this cake turned out for basically my first go at real cake decorating. I had a lovely time out with good friends, and received lots of compliments on this beauty. I’m glad I got to share a piece of this happiness with all of you!