Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Big Berry Birthday Cake and New Beginnings

My life as a food blogger is officially beginning. I'm excited.

Last night was my good friend Jason's birthday, and we surprised him at a neighborhood bar with a loud welcome and this delicious Big Berry Birthday Cake.

I'm a chocolate lover at heart, and almost without exception, the desserts I bake are laden with chocolate. Dark chocolate. Semi-sweet chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate. I love it all. So making this cake and only adding layers of delicious fresh berries took a lot of self restraint. I debated adding bittersweet chocolate chips in the cake batter and again when frosting the cake. For Jason's birthday, I managed to leave the chocolate out.

But as this cake came together, and as we sliced into it after singing "Happy Birthday," I was glad to have kept the cake pure. The density of the cake combined well with the light frosting and fresh berries. I went home with an empty plate and a full stomach.

Big Berry Birthday Cake
adapted (slightly) from JoytheBaker
originally take from Organic and Chic: Cakes, Cookies, and Other Sweets That Taste as Good as They Look

This recipe makes an eight-inch double layer cake, and it feeds at least 15 with generous slices. The cake is a little denser than I am used to, so I made a double batch of frosting to soften things up.

1 cup unsalted butter (two sticks), softened to room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pint blueberries
Assorted fruits for decorating/filling the cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Butter two eight-inch round baking pans. Cut a circle of parchment paper and place it in the bottom of the pan.

With a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula every minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and vanilla extract.

With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures in three batches. When the batter is just combined, shut off the mixture, and finish thoroughly incorporating the batter with a rubber spatula. Gently fold blueberries into the batter (I added the blueberries after the batter was poured into the pan and wished they had been incorporated throughout the cake). Divide the batter between the two pans.

Bake for 25 to 40 minutes, until they are a pale golden color and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, and then invert the cakes onto a wire rack to cool. Remove the parchment from the bottom of the cake. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting (I made mine a few days before and froze them so they would stay fresh!).

Vanilla Whipped Buttercream Frosting 

This was my first attempted at a stovetop buttercream frosting. All throughout the process, my roommates listened to me fret that the frosting wasn't turning out. Stick with it. In the last few minutes, the frosting comes together, the sugar granules disappear and you're left with a delicious concoction that you'll just want to eat. I made a double batch.

1 cup unsalted butter (two sticks), softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar (JoytheBaker recommends organic cane sugar. I used standard granulated sugar to great results!)
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon rosewater (JoytheBaker added rosewater, but I couldn't find it at grocery stores in my neighborhood. It was delicious without it.)

In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup milk with flour and vanilla extract. Whisk the ingredients together until there are no lumps. Over medium heat, slowly add the remaining 3/4 cups milk, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a low boil. Reduce the heat to low, and continue whisking until the mixture starts to thicken slightly. When the mixture starts to thicken, immediately remove the pan from the heat, and continue whisking. The mixture will continue to cook for a minute or two on its own after you remove it from the heat. If there are any lumps, whisk them out with a little elbow grease.

The flour/milk mixture needs to cool to room temperature. I let it cool on the counter for a few minutes, and then I placed it in the freezer. I whisked it for a few seconds every time I scraped down the sides of my butter/sugar bowl, and I removed it from the freezer when it reached room temperature.

Using a hand mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about five to seven minutes. Stop the mixture every minute to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

With the mixer on low, slowly pour the flour/milk mixture into the butter/sugar mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about three to five minutes.

To assemble the cake: Place one layer on a large serving plate. Add about 2/3 cup of frosting to the first layer, spreading it smooth. Top with pieces of fruit (I used chopped strawberries, blackberries and blueberries). Place the second layer on top, and add a bit of frosting to do a quick crumb coat. Add the remaining frosting. Top with a final layer of fruit just before serving.


  1. As a die-hard chocolate lover myself, I was blown away by how great this cake was! It was moist and creamy and so flavorful!

  2. I am in awe of how you make time to do all the things you love.

  3. Congratulations Katie on your brand new bouncing baby blog -- it's charming and delicious!
    I look forward to enjoying vicarious culinary delight in your wonderful creations!

  4. Thank you! I'm so looking forward to sharing my creations with all of you!

  5. Fun for me to find a new blog to learning lots over here...I never read an entire blog!! I did this one, however. Thanks!

  6. Thanks Kayte! I'm glad you made it to the end (or perhaps the beginning)!