this birthday cake was made for my dear friend josh. i’ve known him for about 10 years, but we only became friends when we were college and lived in the same dorms. he taught me how to crochet…something i do poorly, but he does extraordinarily well. i have seen josh change and morph into this really awesome, open person over the years and he truly is one of my greatest friends. snarky, sarcastic, and smart–he is just as loud and opinionated as i am, actually probably more so now…which makes for an interesting, but understanding relationship.
we had a very small party for him and since he just moved in to a new place, some rescue organizing was in order (our friend brooke’s idea). i have to say, he packs like a teenaged boy…sorry josh. everything thrown haphazardly into random boxes…tisk, tisk. how the hell do you know what you have if you can’t find it? that probably explains the many rolls of tape that were unearthed (a shoe box full!) and three large jugs of laundry detergent. his birthday gifts consisted of movers, organizers, cake (duh), and i like to think…obama for president. yay!
since i was already making a chocolate cake for halloween (which i don’t really have decent pictures of…boo), i decided to forgo the third layer and use the extra batter for the b-day boy cake. i used two 6-inch round cake pans. i soaked the layers of chocolate cake in amaretto syrup (he has a deep love for disaronno…a love we share) and added some almond extract to the buttercream and then, i topped the cake with chopped, salted almonds. mmm, chocolate and almond…just heaven. here’s to you josh, i hope your birthday was grand.
sour cream-chocolate cake
adapted from sky high. if you don’t have this book yet, get it. seriously.
i didn’t adjust this recipe for the small cake…sorry you will have to have extra cake. wrap it, freeze it, and viola! more cake for another occasion.
the recipe calls for dutch process cocoa powder, but i used natural because its what i have. it worked fine. from what i understand there is a difference in acid level and color, but i am not sure what other differences there are.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral oil, vegetable or equivilant
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
preheat oven to 350 F. butter the bottoms of two 6-inch round cake pans and line with parchement that has been buttered (do the same for the other pans you use–i used two 8-inch round pans).
sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. whisk to combine. add oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. gradually beat in water. blend in vinegar and vanilla. whisk in eggs until well blended. scrape down sides to make sure batter is well mixed. divide among pans.
bake for 30-35 mins (for 8 inch pans)…i set the timer for 25 mins and began checking the 6-inch rounds at that time. not really much science there, sorry. cake is done when toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. let cool in the pans for 20 mins and then invert onto wire racks, carefully peeling off parchment. allow to cool completely.
also adapted from sh.
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temp.
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
in a small saucepan combin sugar and water. bring to a boil over med heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. continue to boil without stirring, occasionally washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush, until the syrup reaches soft-ball stage (238 F on a candy thermometer). immediately remove from heat.
in a large mixer bowl, briefly beat eggs on med. slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, pouring it down the sides of the bowl, careful not to hit beaters so as not to splatter the hot syrup. when all of the syrup has been added raise speed to med-high and beat until mixture is very fluffy and cooled to body temp. be patient, this can take 15-20 mins.
reduce mixer speed to med-low and gradulally add softened butter 2-3 tablespoons at a time, beating well in between additions. as your adding the last few tablespoons of butter, the frosting will appear to break, then suddenly come together like whipped butter. beat in almond extract, and then it’s ready!
i used disaronno. i heart it…amaretto sours anyone?
1/4 cup amaretto liqueur
1/4 cup sugar
melt sugar and amaretto in a small saucepan just until sugar dissolves. cool and brush onto cooled cake layers with a pastry brush.
*okay, so it was brought to my attention that this recipe didn’t work for a reader. dang! i hate that. i added a few more instructions…the eggs are meant to be whole. i thought it was weird too, in fact, i think i like the italian meringue method better. thanks to allison for bringing that to my attention.