Monday, May 20, 2013

Birthday Cake!

It's Birthday Cake time at our house! This guy turned 21 last week!

Well, yes, that picture IS a few years old, but I don't feel like I'm any older than I was when this picture was
nineteen years ago.....

Now he's tall, lanky, shaves, and can drive a car and everything. He also just finished his sophomore year of college.

Where does the time go?

Eagle Scout Project, 2010

On his birthday, this college boy got up and went off to work at 7:00 like he does every day, and never told me what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday.

So I got to choose. Baker's prerogative.

I didn't take long to decide on chocolate, so I got out my cookbook - this time it was my trusty Better Homes and Gardens red plaid cookbook from 1982 - and found a recipe.

If you've never baked a cake from scratch, try this recipe. You'll never go back to box mixes again! This is so easy, and the cake is so moist and delicious, you'll love it.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

1 3/4 cups flour (I always use cake flour for cakes!)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
3 squares (3 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup cold water

Now one problem was that I had all the ingredients I needed except one - no unsweetened chocolate squares. But it's easy to substitute! I have plenty of cocoa powder...

And yes, that does say 3.5 POUNDS. I love that store....

Anyway, to substitute cocoa powder for unsweetened chocolate, use 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder and 1 Tablespoon butter for each ounce chocolate in the recipe.

Here are the steps to making delicious chocolate cake:

1) Let your butter (1/2 cup PLUS 3 Tablespoons if you're using powdered cocoa) warm up to room temperature. 

2) In a separate bowl (not the one you're going to be mixing the cake in), combine the flour, baking soda and salt. This is also where you add the powdered cocoa if you're making that substitution.

3) Prepare your baking dish - 2  round cake pans, or a 9"x13" rectangle, or cupcakes, and pre-heat your oven to 350°.

4) Once the butter is room temperature, use your mixer to beat it for about 30 seconds.

5) Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined

6) Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition

7) Mix in the sour cream (and melted and cooled chocolate if you're using that option)

8) Add the dry ingredients and the 1 cup cold water alternately, beating on low speed after each addition until combined

NOTE: step 8 is very important when making a cake from scratch. This is what keeps your cake light. When you add the ingredients, add about 1/4 of the dry mixture, beat, 1/4 cup water, beat, 1/4 of the dry, beat, and so on until all the ingredients are combined.

9) Pour the batter into your pans

10) Bake in a 350° oven for 30-35 minutes or until done. You can insert a toothpick into the center - if it comes out clean, then the cake is done. Or you can use the touch test - lightly touch the top of the cake. If it springs back, it's done, but if a depression remains, you need to bake it a few more minutes.

11) Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the pans. Let it cool completely before frosting it.

I frosted our birthday cake with Chocolate Buttercream frosting, and added mini chocolate chips.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

2 Tablespoons butter, softened
about 2 cups powdered sugar
about 2 Tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder

In your mixer, or in a medium bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add about 1/4 cup powdered sugar and vanilla and stir well. Add a splash of milk and combine. Add cocoa powder and combine. Alternate adding milk and sugar until you have enough frosting and it's the consistency you want. Add more milk or sugar as necessary.

The birthday boy wanted to have dinner at Olive Garden. I'm not sure about your family, but no one at our house felt like eating cake after Olive Garden! So we opted to save it for the next day.

Remember how the birthday boy has to be to work by 7:00 am? This is what the cake looked like when I got up the next morning:

We have another birthday coming up at our house next week. How should we celebrate this one?


  1. SO SWEET!! Love that picture!

    And hey, Mama's get to choose the cake. :D It looks delicious!!

    1. And when Mama chooses the cake, you KNOW it's going to be chocolate!

  2. LOL--interesting cake cutting technique birthday boy has. Is posting his little boy picture pay back? :-)

    You know, I woke up this morning with the burning desire to make a chocolate cake. I was going to garden all day but it's still raining and my 'domesticivity' has turned to inside the house. Cleaning and baking and choco cake was calling my name and then you go and post this and I was all yay, I can do this but then I read the chocolate square ingredient and thought rats I can't but then I read on and voila you shared how to use cocoa instead which I do have and hooray I'm off to make chocolate cake now!!!!!!!! (but I think I'll take a breath or two first)

    Oh -- and do you have strawberries yet? It's too early for us but if you do then I think next week's birthday should be celebrated with strawberry shortcake!

    And when is puppy joining the clan? You'll need to celebrate that day with cake too. Perhaps in the shape of a bone? And you can serve it up in dog dishes. I love a theme party.

    1. That cake cutting technique is a family tradition. The birthday person gets the first piece - and the best piece is always the center, right? So most of our birthday cakes start with a hole in the center. I'm not sure if he's the one who migrated to the corner, or if it was another brother before I was able to take the picture.

      And no strawberries here yet. I just planted a few early seeds in the garden. Our Farmer's Market doesn't even open until June - but I hope to find some rhubarb and strawberries there.

      It's rainy, cold, and windy today - the rain sounds so nice beating against the windows! And we turned our furnace back on last night.

      And we pick up Thatcher next Monday! One more week!

    2. I love the tradition of cutting the piece out of the middle. I also think this recipe may beat the Hershey's Cake recipe. Gotta love my BHG cookbook. Mine is from 1980!

      Can't wait to see the puppy.

      As far as the next cake, the family may be happy with a repeat!

    3. My favorite cake recipe from that BHG cookbook (yes, I looked - mine's 1980, too. I got it in 1982, hence the mixup) is the Devil's Food cake on the previous page. It isn't quite as easy to make, though.

  3. I usually liked the corners but I was into the icing in my younger days and corners had more on the sides! :-)

    which puppy did you decide on for Thatcher? I remember picking green collar, blue collar, etc (though can't rmember which was my vote LOL!) they were all so cute. I took my german shepherd with me to my friend's this weekend - felt so different not having Kayla - my friend's aunt came to visit and brought her lab mix and I kept thinking about Kayla - but I miss her anyways whther or not another dog reminds me of her. seems longer than a week without her :-(

    ok back to bed - start night shifts for 2 weeks beginning tonight

    1. Night shift. I'm sorry. Working the shift is hard enough - but making the adjustment is the worst, I think.

      We decided on the puppy with the green collar. The blue one had already been chosen (we had 2nd choice), and it would have been hard to choose between green and orange - they were both great puppies - except that we had already enjoyed the pictures of the green collar puppy so much. So he's the one!

      I know what you mean about missing Kayla. They leave a hole, don't they?

  4. Oh, I love it!! Someone else besides me likes to cut out the middle! :) :) I do that on brownies--unless the kids tackle me and beat me to it. :)

    Happy birthday to the cutie!

    And thanks for the recipe! I'm now craving cake...

    1. I'm craving it all over again too, Missy!

  5. Jan, this looks wonderful! I'm always on the look-out for good cake recipes and I'm going to try this one. I'm a huge fan of the melted butter chocolate icing (glossy chocolate icing) because I'm a frosting junkie, but I love chocolate on chocolate.

    And chocolate on white.

    And chocolate on yellow, marble, cherry.... :) I love chocolate!!!!!

    I think we need to have a tea party WEEKEND and all get together and cook... or better yet we order pizza and we get more time to gab!