There is no better person to throw a birthday party than a mom, and mine is no exception. My birthday was always an event, I remember counting the days until my party, the excitement of picking up the theme, filling up the piñata and gift bags with candy and little treats, but of course the soul of the party was always the cake, my mom would bake it and then wait until everyone was in bed to decorate it… the smell of sugar and melted chocolate coming from the kitchen, I loved sitting down next to her half sleep, watching her making sure everything looked perfect, little pink rosettes here and there, sprinkles, piping my name on a beautiful script … oh how I wish I was 6 again.
Of course my birthdays are no longer as half as good, but one of the advantages of being an adult is that you don't really need a grown up to bake a cake, or as a matter fact, wait for somebody's birthday to eat one. This recipe is from Martha Stewart, a marriage between her Chocolate Bundt Cake and her Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting, it will make the perfect birthday cake, is luscious but not too sweet. Now, I don't think is going to be a 6 year old favorite, but is perfect for grown ups.
Tip: When I bake something that has a filling and/or frosting I start early, but this cake I bake a day in advance just to make sure the frosting would sit well.
Ingredients for the cake
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup sour cream (4 ounces)
- 225 grams unsalted butter at room temperature (+ more for the pans)
- 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (you can substitute with any other nut)
Ingredients for the frosting ganache:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 500 grams organic bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
Preheat your oven to 160 C / 325º F. Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to fit the bottom of two 8 inch pans, then butter, lay down the parchment paper and then flour, this step is so helpful for getting out the cakes from the pans.
Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix milk and sour cream in a small bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Low the speed and beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk mixture, ending with the flour. Fold in the walnuts, if using. Spoon the batter into the pans. Bake until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean, mine were ready after 35 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for about 20 minutes and then invert. I waited until the next day to frost them but you can do it after they are completely cold.
To make the frosting you need to bring 2 cups heavy cream, 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to a boil in a large saucepan, keep an eye on it because it can boil really fast and spill all over, so be careful. Once is boiling remove from heat and add the chocolate, let stand without stirring for 1 minute. Whisk just until combined, then refrigerate, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes, until spreadable. This should take about 1 hour.
Once the frosting is ready and the cakes are cold, flip them so the bottom is side up and then peel off the paper. Level the cake using a serrated knife. Tuck in some strips of parchment paper underneath one of the cakes after you've placed it on the stand. You can use some of the frosting, jam or dulce de leche to glue the two cakes together, then dollop 1 cup of frosting on top of the cake and level it all around with a spatula, don't worry, at this stage it doesn't need to be perfect, you only want to level the cake, then with a clean spatula smooth the icing as best as you can and let it dry for at least 20 minutes, this technique is called crumb coat and thought it might seem like an extra stage you will always get the perfect base for frosting. When the crumb coat is dry you are ready for the best part, spread the remaining ganache over the top and sides of the cake and from here is up to you, I wasn't looking for a perfectly smooth finish, instead I did some swirls. Carefully remove the strips before serving the cake.