A Decadent Birthday Cake

Earlier this month, it was my birthday. I knew some weeks ahead that I’d be having a lunch with my parents and other family members in attendance.

It was the perfect opportunity to create a birthday lunch of my choosing. I roasted a 3kg leg of lamb, served it with polenta crusted potatoes (which were, I have to say, nowhere near as good as Delly’s potatoes she’d served me just two weeks earlier. C’est la vie!) and a couple of lovingly selected bottles of red wine.

It was all lovely. But the cake. Oh the cake. That was something I was very excited about.

I put the call out on Twitter one night for people to suggest their favourite birthday cake ideas and a friend from Ireland said I could do worse than check out what Smitten Kitchen had to offer. I knew of Smitten Kitchen by reputation but hadn’t ever really checked out her stuff. As of that moment, I became a new, instant fan. Beautiful food with a philosophy I took to right away. On her About page, she describes how her blog is about “comfort foods stepped up a bit” – it’s not all fancy schmancy – which is of course a matter of opinion. It doesn’t seem fancy to me but maybe if your idea of fancy cooking is to throw in a tin a champignons in your bolognaise (yes I once knew someone who thought that was fancy) then her food is going to seem intimidating. But to me it’s just good, every day ingredients cooked lovingly and creatively. I’m gobsmackingly hooked and there aren’t a huge number of food blogs that do that to me.

I found her Best Birthday Cake seconds after landing on her page and it was all a done deal.

She calls it a yellow cake. I’m reliably informed this is what Americans call a butter cake. Once I understood that, it was all good. Have a look at her cake – the photo she has of the inside of her cake is far better than any I took. Beautifully double-deckered with a generous layer of chocolate icing in the middle. Sublime. Sometimes chocolate on chocolate is too much for me. Chocolate on a buttery vanilla laced cake struck just the right note for me.

Here’s mine. A light, but not too light yellow buttery delicious cake. I think the eggs from my chickens contributed to the colour and taste of this gorgeous cake.

my birthday cake

It felt like a monumental cake, for someone who doesn’t often do monumental. It felt fun, exciting and oh so celebratory. And my lovely niece Alice loved it as much as I did. From the moment I’d iced it and set it on the cake stand on the table, she was hovering with her little spoon, waiting to dig in. That girl is so related to me and Delly. One of her earliest words was ‘cake’ and it’s still a great way to get her attention.

me alice and cake

This is a cake that I know I’ll return to again and again. For a first taste of Smitten Kitchen’s work, it was a great introduction. I’m going back for more.

A note on the icing – it was a first for me. Sour cream, dark chocolate and corn syrup. I’ve never used corn syrup. I was surprised to see it in the recipe but understood her desire had been to create a glossy, rich icing without using icing sugar. So not using icing sugar meant using corn syrup. Makes sense. It was such a gorgeous icing. Rich and glossy and quite grown up. The sour cream tang was delightful.

I need another birthday as an excuse to make this again!



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David Hilyard
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 20:34:34

    Looks great!

    Have a post-birthday celebration next month so you can make it again – an extended Festival of Helen.


  2. RoseRed
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 08:16:26

    It really does look good! I love the icing down the sides, I rarely do that with cakes


  3. Delly
    Jul 29, 2011 @ 16:27:25

    It was a great cake. A reall winner and crowd pleaser. I think I might use milk chocolate in the icing next time. I found the dark chocolate a little too much for me.

    But the two cakes piled on top of eachother was a real treat. It just looks spectacular!!!

    It’s so much fun making your own birthday cake!


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