June 4, 2014

Birthday Cake

This past Sunday, it was Emma's 19th birthday. This was the cake I made for her. I have made this sour cream chocolate cake for special occasions for the past 30 years or so. It has been kitchen tested over and over again.

When Emma was a baby, she had a severe egg allergy. Because I couldn't include eggs in recipes, her first cakes were quite flat. I think I cried when I made her cake for her first birthday. So silly of me, but it didn't match in my head what my first cake for my little girl would be. By the time she was three, she was no longer allergic (it is one of the rare food allergies that children can grow out of) and I was able to make traditional birthday cakes for her.

What can I say? I am a birthday cake person. If I don't have a traditional layer cake, I don't feel like I've had my birthday.

I can't remember how many times I've made this cake for family occasions but the splattered state of my recipe cards tell a tale.

For those who love a dense, moist, not-too-sweet chocolate cake, here is the recipe:

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Set oven at 350 degrees F

3 1-ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 cup boiling water

Melt chocolate in a small bowl over hot water (or carefully in the microwave). Cool. Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans or line them with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a bowl or on wax paper. Beat the butter until it is soft in a large bowl. (I use my KitchenAid mixer.) Add the brown sugar and eggs. Beat at high speed until light and fluffy--about five minutes. Beat in vanilla and the cooled, melted chocolate. Stir in the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream (about a third at a time, ending with the sour cream). Incorporate well after each addition and mix until batter is smooth. This next part breaks your heart a little bit as you will see your lovely thick mixture become quite thin but, trust me, it works. Stir in the cup of boiling water and mix carefully. Pour into the cake pans and bake for 35 minutes.

Chocolate Fudge Icing

4 1-ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1 pound of icing/confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 to 3/4 cups milk

Combine the chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat (or heat carefully in a microwave). Remove and let cool. Combine the icing sugar, milk and vanilla in a medium size bowl. Stir until smooth. (I use my KitchenAid mixer on low speed.) Add the chocolate mixture and mix well. Let it sit for a while and it will thicken. If you are in a hurry, you can put the bowl in the refrigerator and check it every now and then to see if it is thick enough to spread.

❤  ❤  

We also went through a few years of making Nigella Lawson's Buttermilk Birthday Cake (from 'How to Be a Domestic Goddess')--also a winner. My recipe book falls open to that page. Do you have a favourite recipe for birthday cakes?


  1. Well this looks delicious! I just wish I got the cup thing?? I could use a small tea cup and stick to that? It's tricky without weights, you knew someone might say this didn't you? Trust me to say it, I bet it tastes glorious though.The decoration is so beautiful, it zings out :)

    1. I love putting flowers on cakes. Oops. I forgot that the measures weren't universal. I found this blog that gives some British equivalents of North American measures in recipes. Hope it helps:

  2. That was a lovely looking cake - I´m sure it tasted delicious! :-)


    1. Thanks, Tina. It's a great tasting cake.

  3. Mmmmm, this cake seems to be delicious!! As a chocolate fan, I think I will try this recipe this weekend…. Like Alice, It will be my Unbirthday cake! I love the flowers you put on top! Beautiful! : )

    1. I hope you like your unbirthday cake, Eva. I can't live without chocolate! I keep dark chocolate bars in my studio! :)


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