Chocolate Celebration Cake
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup canola or corn oil
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 2 (9-inch) cake pans
- Parchment paper
- 2 medium and 2 large bowls
- Fine-mesh sieve
- Silicone spatula
- Oven mitts
- 2 cooling racks
- Electric mixer
- Small offset spatula
- 10- to 12-inch flat serving plate or cake stand
- 9-inch cake cardboard or tart pan bottom
Before you begin
Position 1 oven rack in the top 1/3 of the oven and 1 oven rack in the bottom 1/3 of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter the cake pans or spray with pan spray. Line the pans with the parchment paper.
Make the cake batter
Put the water, buttermilk, oil, and eggs in 1 medium bowl. Whisk until the eggs have completely blended into the mixture. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into 1 of the large bowls (see page 11). Push through any lumps with your fingers. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Whisk gently at first, and then, as the mixture blends, whisk faster until you have a smooth batter and you don’t see any more dry patches.
Fill the pans and bake the cake layers
Using the silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it as evenly as you can. Put 1 pan in the center of each oven rack. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Using the oven mitts, transfer to the cooling racks. If the cakes are rounded on top, place a clean, dry kitchen towel on top of each hot cake and press down firmly with the palm of your hand to level the surface. Let cool completely.
Make the frosting
Place the room-temperature cream cheese and butter in the other large bowl. Using the mixer, beat on medium-low speed for about 2 minutes, or until creamy and smooth. Turn off the mixer. Sift half of the powdered sugar over the top of the cream cheese mixture. Turn on the mixer to medium-low speed and beat until thoroughly mixed. Turn off the mixer again, and scrape down the sides of the bowl with the silicone spatula. Sift in the remaining sugar and beat again until the mixture is blended and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Unmold 1 cake layer
Slide the small spatula around the edges of the cake layers to loosen them from the pan. Place the serving plate upside down on top of 1 cake pan. Hold the plate and pan together like a sandwich, then flip them over. The cake will fall out of the pan onto the plate. Lift off the pan and peel off the parchment paper.
Frost and decorate the cake
Using the offset spatula, scoop out about half of the frosting into a mound on the center of the cake. Then, spread the frosting evenly on top, leaving a 1/4-inch-wide border uncovered around the edge. When you put the second layer on top, it will squish the frosting out to the edge. Place a cake cardboard on top of the second cake layer, then flip them over together and lift off the pan. Peel off the parchment paper.
Gently push the cake off the board and into place atop the frosted layer. Scoop the remaining frosting onto the top layer and spread evenly to the edges. Decorate the top with sprinkles or whatever you like. You can leave the cake at room temperature for a few hours. Otherwise, refrigerate the cake until serving time.
This cake batter makes great cupcakes. It makes 24 cupcakes, so you’ll need to line 2 (12-cup) standard muffin pans with paper liners. Divide the batter evenly among the cups, filling them no more than 2/3 full. Bake on 2 racks as described for the cake layers for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let them cool completely on cooling racks before frosting them.
Bella’s tip: There is lots of cool stuff you can use to decorate the cake. Look for colorful candles, sprinkles, confetti candy, or chunky sugar in the baking aisle. Check the candy aisle, too, for more ideas.
-From Baking Kids Love by Sur La Table with Cindy Mushet/Andrews McMeel Publishing