What's a birthday without a cake, right? Usually, if time permits, I'd try my best to bake cakes or other treats for my friends when their birthday comes. Hmm, let's count. The last one was a chocolate chiffon cake. Then it was a chocolate cheesecake. Oh, and the chocolate espresso mousse cake. Two of those, in fact. Chocolate cupcakes, chocolate tarts...Can we sense a theme here? :D
But for A., whom this cake was for, of course it had to be chocolate too - only both Black and White chocolate. As this year is the last time I'm going to celebrate my friends' birthdays with them before we go our own ways for uni, I promised myself that I have to bake them each a big, special birthday cake.
But making it special is not as easy as it sounds. This is the first time I've ever made a birthday cake with mulitple layers and fillings and frostings. Heck, I only bought my first offset spatula two days before! Even with my planning beforehand, I still encountered some problems, partly due to my clumsiness but mainly because I've never made such a cake before, I totally did not know what to expect and I panicked alot when...
...I was slicing the cake layers. I held the knife in one hand, and stared at the cake layer that was barely an inch high. How on earth do I slice that in half without accidentally slashing in the wrong direction? I took a deep breath, and gently sawed through the cake later. Phew. Although the layers were not particularly even, at least they held up! As the cake layers are quite soft and fluffy, I quickly stuffed them into the freezer to make sure they didn't snap in half of something. So the first scare was over.
...I frosted the layers. I'm not sure why, but I had a huge problem with the white chocolate whipped cream. See that ugly white layer in the photo above? Yeah, that. It was perfectly fine after I initially whipped it up - it was smooth and just firm enough to spread, but as per the recipe's instructions, I chilled it for around 2 hours. And after that, I took it out. I prodded it through the plastic wrap. The surface was firm. Not good.
It turned out that somehow, the cream had curdled in fridge, and I didn't have a backup plan. So I went ahead and used it for the middle layer, but it just looked too way bad and unappealing to be the frosting. So I sprinted down to the supermarket, grabbed another carton of whipped cream, ran back and whipped up some lightly sweetened cream and used it to frost the cake instead. It took me ages to get the frosting right, as I've never frosted a big cake before and it was hard to get the crumb coat right, to get the top and sides smooth.
But finally, the cake was done. The top was simply decorated with homemade white chocolate curls and some store bought dark chocolate shavings. I quickly photographed it, and went to sleep - tired, yet happy that I found an alternative to the white chocolate cream disaster. But I was anxious too, as I was very very scared that the white chocolate cream I used for the filling would separate over the night, and mess up the whole cake.
But the next night, after our long day of Challenge Week golfing, 9 holes, a barebeque... it was cake time! We took the photos, sang the song, the birthday girl made her wishes...and finally it was time for me to slice and serve the cake. I took a deep breath in my brain, and cut the cake into slices. All was well. I simply cannot describe how relieved I was to see that the slices came out nicely and the white chocolate cream filling was perfectly fine! And it was actually somewhat symmetrical with the layers looking fairly intact!
So everyone had their slice, and everyone said it was goooood. I felt satisfied and bubbly and excited and happy to see that everyone enjoying it, and that my first layered cake was successful, that everything turned out fine eventually albeit the glitches in the process. So I rightfully dug into my slice to taste the fruit of my labour.
Well, since the cake was made with a fluffy buttermilk white cake, a rich dark chocolate pastry cream, real white chocolate cream and well, more sweetened whipped cream (and of course the love and effort I put in too), it was just simply decadent. The smooth creams complemented the cake well, and the sweetness was just right so the flavours of both chocolates came through. In fact, I was glad that I used whipped cream for the frosting, as it helped round all the layers together nicely and so the cake is not too heavy and cloying.
If you're a chocoholic for both chocolates that's looking for a cake to bake, why not this? The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours. The recipe can be found on this site. (Sorry, I'm too tired to type it all up :P In fact, A. was the person who helped me order this book from Amazon, so what's better to bake a cake from that book for her?)
Although layered cakes are probably a no-brainer for practically everyone but me, to myself, it seems like I've reached a mini baking milestone. And honestly? I can't wait to bake the next big-special-birthday cake!
P.S. Actually I had my 17th birthday a few weeks ago too, in case anyone wondered why the 'About Me' section has changed :)