Fred turns 48

Fred38
Fred turned 48 this past week.  Strange how that happens.  In many ways, I still think of Fred as 21.  For his birthday, we had people over and made 2 cakes.  One was a four layer vanilla cake with chocolate frosting.  The other was a lemon cake.  The cakes were not as light as I would have liked.  There is definitely something about the salt air out at the beach that affects the baking.  I have figured out the tart/pie thing but not the cake.  It certainly didn't stop anyone from digging in and I really believe that the recipe is good. 

Vanilla Cake (for two layers – I did this twice for the four layer – doubling this is probably not a good idea)

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 9 inch round cake pans
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour ( not self-rising )
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsps. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups of milk

This recipe cake straight out of Martha Stewarts Baking Book which is been a great tool this summer. 

Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter the cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper ( that is really key).  Sift the flours, baking powder and salt together.

In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Then add in the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each separately before adding in the next one.  Add in the vanilla.  Then on low speed, alternate between the flour mixture and the milk. 

Put the batter into the pans, evenly and bake for about 30 minutes or until you can stick a tooth pick to the bottom and it comes out clean. 

Let cool, completely. 

Dark Chocolate Frosting ( this was a real winner )

1 lb. semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
6 tbsp. boiling water
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
pinch of kosher salt

Melt the chocolate in a bowl, over simmering water and then let cool completely.  Take the cocoa powder and pour the boiling water over it and stir until dissolved.

With an electric mixer ( paddle attachment ), beat the butter, confectioners sugar and salt until fluffy – 4 minutes.  Add the melted chocolate, low speed, until combined (2 minutes) and then beat in the cocoa mixture.  Voila. 

For a 4 layer cake make the according changes – 24 ounces chocolate, 4 1/2 sticks butter, 3/4 cup confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. of cocoa and boiling water. 

When you put the cake together, it is really important to cut off the top of each cake (except the top layer) to make the cake top even.  Use a serrated knife, be careful and wait until the cake is cool.  Sometimes you only need to cut off a little bit to make it flat, sometimes more sometimes less.