Best Birthday Cake

Oh, this cake combination!  It’s the ultimate, classic birthday celebration combo. Fluffy and moist yellow cake with truly great chocolately chocolate frosting is a match made in blow-out-those-candles heaven. Try this one out when a birthday rolls around for a very special daughter or son, husband, grandma or a really awesome friend.

Before you break out those baking pans, here are a few of my tried and true (or shall I say, trial and error) cake tips:

Make sure your buttermilk, butter and eggs are at room temperature prior to mixing. This will insure a smoother batter and better overall texture.

After the cakes are baked and cooled, cover them carefully with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.  I don’t know any of the science behind this, but for some reason the cake is moister after thawing. This also makes the layers easier to frost.

Before frosting, use a pastry brush to displace any lingering crumbs on your layers. This little step will make the cake smooth and more professional looking.

Harry Potter Birthday Cake

Note: I doubled the recipe for both the cake and the frosting to make this big daddy.



Best Birthday Cake

Simply Delicious Yellow Cake

Adapted from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread, Amy Scherber


Yield: One 9-inch two-layer cake


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/4 cups and 3 tablespoons buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened

2 3/4 cups and 2 teaspoons sugar

5 eggs


Grease the cake pans. Line the bottoms with rounds of baking parchment then dust them lightly with flour. Shake out the excess.


In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk them gently for even distribution. In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk and vanilla.


Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until it is light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs gradually, mixing well after each addition, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl often.


Lower the mixing speed to medium-low and add the flour mixture to the butter in 3 parts, alternating with 2 parts of the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until it is evenly incorporated. This is a thick, fluffy batter, resembling whipped cream. There should not be any lumps or dry pockets of flour remaining. If the batter has a curdled appearance it has not been mixed enough. Increase the speed to medium and mix for another minute or until it is thick and fluffy.


Divide the batter equally between the 2 prepared cake pans. (If you really want to go all out you can weigh the batter into the pans to make sure it is totally even— taking this extra step ensures that both layers are uniform in size, and finish baking at the same time). If you are doing the eyeball method, both pans should be about 2/3 full.


Smooth the batter so it fills the pans evenly. Place the pans on the center rack in the preheated oven. Bake them for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is almost ready to pull away from the side of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs. Rotate the layers carefully from front to back after 20 minutes for even baking.


Cool the pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a wire rack that has been sprayed with cooking spray and lift off the pans. To prevent cracking, carefully right each layer so the topside is up and the parchment-lined bottom is down. Cool them on the rack completely.


Chocolate Grenache

(aka- Best Damn Chocolate Frosting Ever)

From Scharffen Berger Essence of Chocolate Cookbook


Yield: Enough to frost one 9-inch cake.


This frosting tastes delicious, it’s easy to make and it’s the prettiest, glossy chocolate Grenache I’ve ever made.  It’s my go-to chocolate frosting recipe and I love it completely.


1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 cup heavy cream

5 ounces 99% unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and cream and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes. Add the chocolate and butter and stir until melted. Pour into a bowl and stir in the vanilla.


Let the frosting cool, whisking gently from time to time. Don’t overwhip, or you’ll create air bubbles.