Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Tale of Two Birthday Cakes

It was my birthday two weeks ago, and we have a tradition where I work of bringing the treats for break on our own birthday. Well, that day also coincided with my department's 4th of July picnic, so I decided to make two cakes.

The recipe on the box
I asked around for chocolate cake recipes, because I just haven't found the perfect one yet. Several people said the recipe on the back of the Hershey's Cocoa box was their favorite, so I made it with zero alterations. It was okay. I'm afraid I overbaked it, which is a danger when baking chocolate cakes. What I have in my head is a cake with more layers, with fudgy ganache and chocolate mousse between the layers. I just ran out of steam.

What is your favorite chocolate cake? After I wasn't completely satisfied, I got some interesting recommendations through Twitter, that I've bookmarked to try later. I'm collecting suggestions!

Perfect Party Cake - Peanut Butter & Jelly Version
The second cake was the result of being hit by a wacky mood, and the idea to make peanut butter and jelly cake. I feel like someone suggested it to me, but I can't remember who. I adapted Dorie Greenspan's recipe for the Perfect Party Cake from Baking: From My Home to Yours, what I consider the quintessential baking cookbook. My theory was that peanut butter has a lot of fat, so I basically substituted peanut butter for some of the butter in the recipe, both for the cake and the frosting. For the cake I used about 1/2 peanut butter but only reduced the butter by 1/4 cup (this was purely by instinct, no idea why these amounts seemed right). For the frosting I replaced an entire stick of butter with 1/2 cup peanut butter. Then I used strawberry jam between the layers and left out the coconut.

I really loved this cake. The flavor combo seemed to scream Americana, summer, and fun, and I'd eat this over a pb&j sandwich any day! The basic recipe for this cake seems pretty infallible - I wonder if I could just make a chocolate version!

Categories: Cake, Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Strawberry


sarahe said...

that pb&j cake sounds amazing! i am looking for a good chocolate cake recipe too...hmmm...i'll let you know if i find the perfect one. will be baking lots of cakes for my cake decorating class this month!

Barbara Bakes said...

Happy Birthday. I look forward to you finding the perfect chocolate cake recipe!

Julia @ Mélanger said...

Happy birthday for the other week. It's mine next week! :) These cakes look great. I have yet to find the perfect chocolate cake yet either. I just got Dorie's baking book so will check out that party cake you reference. I have seen that a few times now.

Eliana said...

Happy belated birthday to you. That dorie party cake is absolutely amazing. When looking for a chocolate cake recipe, I tend to lean towards the ones that have coffee in them, as I feel a little bit of coffee really brings out the chocolate flavor.

Abbey said...

one of my favorite cakes is a guinness-chocolate cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen: smittenkitchen.com/2006/11/ganached-guinness-goodness/