LOC #2: Grandma’s 85th Birthday Cake

September 24, 2008 at 11:29 am 14 comments

Its almost been a week since the festivities but I finally have some quiet time to divulge the whole sorted story now. (I might be a tad melodramatic today.)

Well… you all read my refrigerator woes but just in case here’s the recap:

1. My frig took a crap.
2. I was forced to cook/bake out of a cooler for a couple days.

How did folks survived in the olden days without a frig? My kitchen was so chaotic! It was back breaking work to drain the melted ice water and refill the coolers with new ice every day! and PS if anyone finds themselves in the same sitch… ziplock your butter! I put my butter in the cooler, the ice melted and water got into the boxes. Its ok for cooking but baking is an exact science and getting my buttercream to be light and fluffy wasn’t happening with water soaked butter. Trust me. I learned that the goopy-not-for-human-consumption way. UGH! I don’t want to talk about it anymore… (It definitely wasn’t baker error. ok maybe?)

But all is right with the world again. I have a new refrigerator. Its no stainless steel, internet ready mega refrigerator but it works for me. At least I have an ice maker now! w00t!

Enough frig talk. Onto the cake…

T’s grandmother (you can see her in the picture with my FIL on my wedding day) turned the ripe ol age of 85 last Saturday and who volunteered her cake services without hesitation? Me? Heck no! My mother-in-law! LOL.

My mother-in-law told T’s grandmother I’d be making her birthday cake. Under normal condition this wouldn’t have phased me at all. I am not the greatest layer cake-er ever (I tend to stick to cupcakes myself) but I am growing an appreciation for layer cakes and have made a couple on occasion. But the whole “no refrigerator thing” made cake-ing slightly harder than usual this time. In MIL’s defense the frig broke after she had asked me to bake the cake. She did give me an out b/c of the circumstances but I decided (b/c I am glutton for punishment) to bake it anyways.

I decided to do a Tuesdays with Dorie Rewind and create the Black and White cake for T’s grandmother’s birthday. Its been on my rewind list for a while now and figured it would be my submission for Layers of Cake Event too. I did make a few adjustments though. Instead of the white chocolate cream layer, I couldn’t get it to work (I guess ghiradelli isn’t high enough quality?), I opted for the Perfect Party Cake buttercream instead. (Props to my caker-licious friend, Nikki, for that rec! *muah*)

I also went out and bought new butter. ::smacks head::

The Perfect Black & White Cake

(Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s BFMHTY | photos from me!)


For the cake
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the dark chocolate cream
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp corstarch, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces, at room temp

For perfect party buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons) (I omitted)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9X2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the cake—
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Working with a stand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minutes after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 28-30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then unmmold, remove the paper and invert to cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

To make the dark chocolate cream—
Bring the milk to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolk with the sugar, cornstarch and salt until thick and well blended. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk-this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle-then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over meduim heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (make sure to get into the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the melted chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes. Then whisk in the pieces of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the chocolate cream is smooth and silky. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create and airtight seal and refrigerate the cream until chilled, or for up to 3 days. Or, if you want to coool the cream quickly, put the bowl with a cream into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

To make buttercream—
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.

Remove the bowl from the heat. Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.

On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To assemble the cake—
If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Slice each layer horizontally in half. Place on layer cut side down on a cardboard cake round or on a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment.

I wrapped each layer in saran wrapped and then foil to store in the freezer since I made the layers a day early.

Remove the dark chocolate cream from the refrigerator and whisk vigorously to loosen and smooth. With a long metal icing spatula, spread enough dark chocolate cream (about 1 cup) over the cake layer to cover it completely. Top the cream with another cake layer, cut side up, and cover this layer with buttercream, making the white layer about the same thickness as the dark layer. Cover with a third layer, cut side up, and cover with another cup or so of the dark chocolate cream. (You’ll have some dark chocolate cream left over.)

Top with the final layer of cake, cut side down, and frost the sides and top with the remaining buttercream. Decorate with chocolate shaving or curls, if you wish.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.


Husband rating: A
He liked the buttermilk cake and buttercream alot but wasn’t a huge fan of the chocolate cream. He likes his chocolate sweet. Maybe I’ll use semi-sweet chocolate if I make it again.

Wifey rating: A
I liked this cake but I am with my hubs on the chocolate cream. It didn’t stop me from having 2 pieces though! HAHA

Other rating: A/A+
Our family and friends loved the cake. They raved about each layer and more than one said it reminded them of a tiramisu. T’s grandmother was so impressed and I am pretty sure I am the favorite GDIL now. LOL

Entry filed under: dessert, Layers of Cake. Tags: , , .

Martha. Martha. Martha. Cooking Light Night

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tanya  |  September 24, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    It looks great! Congratulations. I’m super jealous of your new refrigerator.

  • 2. CB  |  September 24, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    TANYA, Thanks! Trust me. My frig aint anything special. It was on sale at Sears and it fit the frig hole in my kitchen. Those were pretty much the only requirements I had. HAHA.

  • 3. food librarian  |  September 24, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    Wow! This looks great. You make wonderful layer cakes. I joined TWD and didn’t get to make this cake. Can’t wait to make it. And what a perfect entry for your layer cake contest!

  • 4. steph  |  September 24, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    wow crazy good!!! and happy birthday to the gram! :D

  • 5. CB  |  September 24, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    FOODLIBRARIAN, aawww well thank you! Yeah I joined after they made this cake too. It takes some time, esp after a comedy of frosting errors, but it was very good. Definitely take time to rewind ;)

    STEPH, thanky! Do you think T’s gram will be confused if I tell her that one of my internet friends said “happy birthday”? Meh she knows me. She’ll think its normal. HAHA

  • 6. kim  |  September 24, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    i can’t believe you did that without a fridge!!! it is perfect :) nice torting action. congrats on the new fridge, phew ;)

  • 7. CB  |  September 24, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    KIM, thanks! uh… torting what? Oh yeah… thats a fancy way of saying cutting the layers right? HAHA. I am still learnding. [sic]

  • 8. Vibi  |  September 24, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    And you say you’re not a great layer-cake-er? Pfff… rubbish! That looks perfect: square and even…
    Boy, if all unskilled people were like you, what perfect world would we live in!!!
    Happy B-day to Grandma and Bravo to you!

  • 9. katie102006  |  September 25, 2008 at 4:10 am

    The cake is so pretty and those slices are GORGEOUS! Happy Birthday Grandma! :) :)

  • 10. CB  |  September 25, 2008 at 8:13 am

    VIBI, aaaww you are too sweet. I have to say I was pretty darn proud of it. I didn’t have time or energy to really decorate with piping or anything but the shaved chocolate was nice as the lazy way out. HAHA

    KATIE, Thanks! I am kind of nerdy when it comes to cakes but I love seeing the layers after I cut them before I frost. I think its my favorite picture.

  • 11. kamaile  |  September 25, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Beautiful cake!

  • 12. CB  |  September 25, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    KAMAILE, thank you!

  • 13. Kristina  |  September 25, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    The cake is beautiful! Under the circumstances, I probably would’ve had to be heavily medicated lol so extra extra kudos

  • 14. CB  |  September 26, 2008 at 6:24 am

    KRISTINA, LOL @ heavily medicated. Trust me I did need some drugs by the end… but I settled for chocolate. ;)


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