Celebration Cakes Archive

Monday, July 13, 2009

best birthday cake

best birthday cake

Some people find out they’re going to be parents and — you know, after the whole “yay babies!” cheer has simmered down a bit — freak out because they haven’t yet a) traveled the world, b) made their first million, paid off all of their debt and saved up enough for $200 toys for their little snowflake or c) well, grown up yet. But me, I actually had a moment of panic because I hadn’t yet found the perfect yellow layer cake recipe. And apparently — and yes, probably ridiculously — central to my image of the kind of mom I want to be is not to have to turn to a box of Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Butter Recipe Golden (anyone else ever been perplexed by this wording?) cake mix to get a reliably perfect two-layer celebration cake. It’s the Smitten Kitchen, afterall: People have expectations!

siftingegg shellsmm, batteryellow layer cake

But I’m not knocking on Duncan Hines, or anyone else who — like me — thinks they do a frighteningly good job of making a consistently perfect, moist and plush yellow layer cake. It’s just that it has always been on my agenda to crack the code at home, using the kind of ingredients I’m a little more proud to put my efforts behind. And although I’ve made my share of vanilla layer cakes, such as this delicious one for that wedding cake or this one that everyone needs in their repertoire because it is infinitely memorize-able, I hadn’t yet found The One.

yellow cake layers, coolingmaking chocolate sour cream frostingchocolate sour cream frostingfilling the cake

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

neapolitan cake

neapolitan cake, slice

I turned 33 this week, but seeing how I’m a little preoccupied these days with someone else’s impending birthday, I might have brushed over this occasion completely, had it not been for a confluence of events — a fierce craving for Peking duck (then dragging both of our families into it’s crispy-skinned grasp), the decision to schedule our housewarming mocktail/cocktail party the next day (requiring baked goods involving cheese, of course) and the fact that it gave me an excuse to conquer a cake that has been vexxing me for the last year and a half.

zestysifting flourtoasted almondsone layer

The truth is, I start thinking about my birthday cake long before it is healthy or well-adjusted to. I see it as the perfect excuse to tackle something risky and possibly ridiculous — something I’m not entirely confident will work out, but don’t care because I’m only making it to amuse myself. Being freed from not wanting to disappoint another on their birthday has its benefits: There was the Crêpe Cake, which also marked the occasion of me making my very first crêpe, ever. (Which landed in the garbage, as all first and second crêpes were intended to.) There has been a Pistachio Petit-Four Cake, which involved rolling out marzipan and then pressing and tinting little marzipan roses, slightly less risky but no less insane.

four "cake" discscurrant caramel vanilla bean fillingspreading the fillingneapolitan cake

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

almond raspberry layer cake

almond raspberry layer cake

My mother turned sixty-five last month, a number that’s just impossible for me to get my head around because she’s my mom, and grandmothers are 65, not moms. Oh wait. I think I just got it.

almond battertiny almond cake, cooling on the floorraspberry jam fillingwhipped bittersweet frosting

My mother is the original marzipan fanatic in my family, and the biggest cheering squad behind my single homemade attempt, not to mention all of the other almond-flavored confections I’ve given spins on this site. Thus, needless to say, for her birthday, it was an almond cake or bust and this one fit the bill perfectly — a strong almond flavor, and it came together quickly.

detail

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

homemade chocolate wafers + icebox cupcakes

chocolate wafers

People, I am so excited about this recipe, it’s pretty much all I can talk about this week. I mentioned it to a broker who showed us another dud of an apartment (more about that if/when we make it out alive). I mentioned it to a friend who doesn’t eat sweets (and we’re still friends! Really, it’s more for everyone else.). And I tried to explain it to another friend who has probably never baked in her life, who politely nodded, smiled and scooted out of the room. As you can see, I can be incredibly boring when I get excited about cooking. That’s what you’re here for.

slicing the wafers

I have been wanting to come up with a completely home-baked, from scratch and all-natural chocolate wafers for years. It has been an outright obsession of mine, since Alex introduced me to the fabulousless that is Icebox Cake and I was disappointed to learn that the only way to make it was to buy some often-hard-to-find Nabisco chocolate wafers with their own set of disconcerting ingredients. I knew a homemade recipe was out there — for crazy people like me, it’s not like if you’re looking for a shortcut, the store bought ones still won’t do — but I had a hard time finding it.

chocolate wafers

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Friday, March 20, 2009

cream cheese pound cake + strawberry coulis

cream cheese pound cake, dusted

Meet my new favorite pound cake. I have had this cake bookmarked for, oh, 100 years or so and while some recipes that I unearth from their 100-year queue are the kinds of disappointments that did not improve with age, this is of the opposite variety: Why did it take me so long to make this? Here, let me kick myself a few times.

crackly top

I’d argue that it was fear. Pound cakes are of British origin, dating back nearly 300 years and their name came from the fact that original pound cakes contained one pound each of butter (four sticks), sugar (two cups), eggs (eight large) and flour (four cups), with no leaveners other than the air that was whipped into the batter. They tend to be a bit heavy and dense but it’s hard to argue that this type is not for you when anything else is not a true pound cake.

strawberriesstrawberry couliscream cheese pound cakecream cheese pound cake

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