Making birthday cake is always an exciting and fun event! (Mainly because birthday cake is an amazing dessert, regardless of the type, so baking it practically guarantees a fantastic treat.) So for my dad’s birthday, I made him (per his request) a chocolate cake filled with cherry jam and topped with fudge icing!
(My tendency to “off-road”,as we refer to it, inspired the specific directions.)
First, I made the chocolate cake recipe from How to Bake Everything. I halved the recipe to fit into two 6-inch cake pans (we love two layer cakes in my house!). First, I melted chocolate to mix into the batter, and then I creamed the butter and sugar in my electric mixer. (I used soft butter this time (I know, I was shocked too), which worked marvelously.) Next I added the vanilla, melted chocolate, egg yolk, and all of the dry ingredients excluding the flour before alternating adding the flour and milk to the batter. (While the directions instructed me to mix the dry ingredients together to start with and then add them to the batter as a whole, I regarded this as optional.)
After cleaning my mixing bowl and attachment, I whipped the egg white until soft peaks formed and folded it into the cake batter. Then I baked the cakes for approximately 13 minutes. While they were baking, I started cooking the cherry jam!
Once the cakes were baked, I turned them out of their pans onto a cooling rack. However, I spectacularly broke one of them (it was my one klutzy moment in this bake) and had to piece it together.
I didn’t let that mishap faze me, however. I was making cake! So after I finished the jam, I prepared my fudge frosting – I heated the sweetened condensed milk, chopped my 8 ounces of chocolate, and measured out my vanilla. Then I dropped the chocolate and vanilla into the hot milk and stirred until smooth. After adding 3 cups of powdered sugar, I had my fudge frosting!
Except that it was really thick. And by really thick, I mean NOT SPREADABLE.
Which was kind of bad. I tried heating it, but that didn’t really work, so I decided to experiment and whipped out my rolling pin. Placing the frosting on some parchment paper, I rolled it out like fondant and (after assembling the broken cake layer like a jigsaw puzzle atop the jam filling) delicately laid it on top of the cake. I smoothed the sides like I’d seen bakers do on TV, and voila! I had a frosted cake. (It was much faster than frosting any other cake I’d made.)
However, the cake looked lumpy under the fondant (because I had broken the top layer; what a mistake to make!), so I made some royal icing to frost the sides with and cover the bumps. I then piped “Happy Birthday” on the top of the cake in mildly neat handwriting and tried my hand at a few flowers.
All that was left to do was wait for about 15 minutes for the frosting to dry. Then (after a super-fun photo shoot) we sliced into the cake!
I thought I’d over-baked the cakes, and thank goodness, I was wrong! The cake was moist, soft, and delicious! The fudge frosting was sweet and rich, and the royal icing was tasty, too. What made the cake, though, was the jam. The cherry jam added a sourness as well as moisture and a wonderful texture! I really loved the cake, and so did my dad! This bake was a success and I will definitely try jam in the middle of a cake again!