Friday, July 24, 2009

Matt's Birthday Cake

Matt turned 25 a week ago and, as per tradition, I made him a birthday cake. Each year I make Matt a cake, and it may not seem as though making 5 or 6 different cakes is that difficult, but making 5 or 6 delicious unique exciting cakes can be quite a challenge. I feel as though I'm drying up- I don't want each year's cake to be too similar to the last, even if the last was to die for delicious!

This year, I selflessly made a cake whose flavor combination I less than desire for myself. That's right- chocolate and peanut butter. Yugh is my reaction to that combo. I avoid it on ice cream menus and in candy shops at all costs. It just doesn't do it for me. Inexplicably, some people just fawn over this mixture of rich creamy chocolate nuttiness. Matt is one of them. In my typical birthday cake fashion, I made a double layer cake. Chocolate layers and peanut butter frosting. I have to admit, even though I found myself eating around the frosting (I just can't take that much peanut butter!), the balance of moist, rich, chocolatey goodness was addictive. Within 2 days, the entire cake was gone, eaten by 3 or 4 individuals, alone. That's pretty good for a sizeable cake.

For you peanut-chocolate lovers, this one is right on, apparently.

Chocolate Cake and Peanut Butter Frosting
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

2 T butter, for greasing pans
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus 1/4 c for dusting pans
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
1 cup [light] sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten

1. Heavily butter two 9" cake tins, then dust with 2 T cocoa, each. Preheat oven to 350 and, in a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture and add oil and sour cream. Mix as well as possible; mixture will be thick if not still a little dry.
3. Add water by the 1/2 cup-full, mixing well after every addition. This took some patience on my part but it was well rewarded.
4. Add vinegar, vanilla, and eggs. Mix well, and scrape sides with rubber spatula, if on hand.
5. Pour batter into two cake tins until each is about 2/3 full (NO MORE-- it will overflow in the oven!!). If you have extra batter, fill some muffin cups, or discard (as much as I hate to waste... it's better than the catastrophe that was my oven on Saturday morning due to overflowing cake tins and batter burning on the oven floor!).
6. Bake for about 40 min, checking after 30 min with a toothpick. If it comes out mostly clean, you know you're done.
7. Let cakes cool in tins for at least 10 min, then invert on cooling racks until fully cooled.
8. Apply crumb coat of frosting (recipe below). Freeze for about 40 min, apply the rest of the frosting as desired. SERVE!

Frosting recipe

1 8 oz package cream cheese
remaining stick of butter left over from greasing pans, softened very much!
3 1/2 c confectioners sugar
1/2 c skippy creamy peanut butter

1. Mix cream cheese and butter with fork (if you are staying over at a friend's who owns no electric mixers of any kind, this works!), until uniform.
2. Add sugar by the cup, mixing extremely well after each addition.
3. Finally, add peanut butter, stir to blend well (we don't want no streaks!).

If you're using the frosting directly on cake above, no need to refridgerate. It will be much softer this way and easier to use.

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