Friday, 4 April 2008

Happy Birthday Cakes

Posted by Bonita

I know I've been MIA around here for the past few weeks, but alas, I was caught up in yet another exam season (my last as an undergrad, at that!). With one paper and three other assignments due this past week, I've certainly had my hands full. However, that did not stop me from baking from birthday treats for some friends, both of who celebrated their birthdays on Monday.

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The first cake, a Spiced Apple Coffee Cake, was baked for Vince and the rest of our Italian class. The addition of cream cheese to this cake gives this cake a dense but super-moist crumb. Packed with lots of fresh apples, and spiced with cinnamon and ground cardamom, this cake is perfect in the afternoons with a cup of coffee or tea. I topped the cake off with a maple glaze. The maple flavour was overpowered by the sweetness of the icing sugar, however, so I'll need to work on the glaze a bit. But otherwise, it turned out a success!

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The second cake was made for my friend Heather. She has a twin, and she once told me that her mom alternates each year on which cake to make, and Heather was the twin who liked Chocolate Cake. Hence, I made her Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream, adapted from the recipes found over at Cupcake Bakeshop. What I love about these chocolate cupcakes is that they are so easy to whip together, and they come out so fluffy and moist. I love cupcakes, but I've often gotten pretty dense ones, so to have finally found a recipe that gave me light, airy cupcakes but still have a dense, rich chocolatey-flavour made my week! Another thing I love about these cupcakes? The fun cupcake liners, courtesy of the Martha Stewart Crafts line. I actually picked these cute red & pink liners way back in December when I was purchasing gift-wrapping materials for my cookies. I couldn't resist myself when I saw them, and I'm glad I got them, as pricey as they were. Who could imagine that just a little bit of paper could add so much personality to a cupcake?

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream
Adapted from this recipe by Chockylit
Makes about 18 large
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powdered
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and espresso powder. Set aside. Mix together the milk and vanilla; set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each addition, or until incorporated.
  4. Add about a third of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet, and finishing with the dry.
  5. Spoon batter into a lined muffin cups, about 3/4's full. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes before releasing them from the pan. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Chocolate Buttercream
Makes enough to lightly frost 1 recipe of Chocolate Cupcakes (about 18)

  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup milk **See Note
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • A few drops vanilla extract
  1. Beat butter on high for about 1 minutes until soft and light. Add a few drops of vanilla and beat to incorporate.
  2. Add the cocoa and 1 cup of the sugar; beat until incorporated.
  3. Add half of the milk and the remainder of the sugar and beat until incorporated.
  4. Continue to add milk until you get the consistency you want.

**Note** The amount of milk require varies. Some people may require more, others less. With this recipe, I find that I usually need to add more milk to get a good, spreadable consistency. Just go a few drops at a time; you want to get something that is spreadable but not soupy either.

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