Around here, we're big fans of all the original birthday traditions. It seems like we're supposed to care less and less about birthdays as we get older, but we're not on board with that. Presents? Yes. Beautiful gift wrap? Obviously. Balloons, flowers, decorations? Check, check, and check. And the best part of all, the ultimate reason to celebrate any occasion: the cake.
Showing up to a birthday party, or even just a friend's doorstep, with a homemade birthday cake in hand is one of the best birthday surprises we can think of. It's thoughtful and sweet, and chances are you'll be sticking around long enough to sneak a slice yourself! Cupcakes are great and ice cream is always a good idea, but there's nothing quite like a beautiful slice of cake. This week, we're craving the classic Birthday Cake from the Theo Chocolate cookbook - now all we need is a friend with an April birthday!
Theo Chocolate Birthday Cake:
Makes one 9-inch layer cake
- 3 cups (13&1/2 ounces) cake flour
- 1&3/4 cups (12&1/4 ounces) sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1&3/4 cups (3&1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 eggs
For the frosting:
- 3 tablespoons very hot water
- 3 tablespoons (2/3 ounce) cocoa powder
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups (13&1/2 ounces confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 9 ounces Theo 70 percent dark chocolate, melted and cooled (but still liquid)
- To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 (9-inch) baking pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set the pans aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda on low speed to blend the ingredients, about 15 seconds. Add the butter, buttermilk, and vanilla, and mix on low speed until the wet and dry ingredients combine, about 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl and paddle, and mix on medium-high speed for 1 full minute. Scrape the bowl, add the egg yolks, and mix on medium-high speed for 30 seconds to blend and aerate the batter. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on medium-high speed for 30 seconds between additions. Finally, mix the batter on medium-high speed for one minute. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
- Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans, peel off the parchment paper, and let them cool completely before making the frosting.
- To make the frosting, in a small bowl, whisk together the water and cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool.
- Clean the stand mixer bowl, then cream the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl, add the vanilla, salt and cocoa powder paste, and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip the frosting until soft and creamy, about another minute. Make sure the melted chocolate is still liquid, but no longer warm to the touch. Add it and whip on medium-high speed until thick and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Use right away.