A Cake of Their Own

IMG_3515

“Mommy, daddy’s birthday is coming up! What are we going to make him?”

She said “we”, but that usually means me.

“Do you guys want to make it this year? Just a little cake for the three of us to share with dad?”

“Yes! Can we get sprinkles?!”

“Of course.” I would come to regret these words later.

We decided on a sour cream butter cake with dark chocolate frosting. And sprinkles.

IMG_3440

They proudly cracked open eight eggs in order to get a total of four whole yolks. I fished out the shells from the rejected mix of broken yolks and whites and put the blended eggs into a jar to save for breakfast the next day.

IMG_3448

A bit of sour cream and some vanilla were added to the egg yolks, then the kids took turns weighing the cake flour and sugar.

IMG_3452

They measured the remaining dry ingredients and everything was sifted together into the bowl of my KitchenAid.

IMG_3456

Sifting became a two-person job, slightly messier than one, but pretty efficient.

IMG_3458

Finally, they each buttered and floured a six-inch cake pan.

This is another two-stage cake recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum. I really like using this mixing method because a) it results in a very tender cake, b) it’s fast and nearly foolproof, (the most time consuming part is measuring the ingredients), and c) kids, (see b).

IMG_3460

Softened butter and more sour cream went into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mixed together until just moistened.

IMG_3461

We cranked the speed up to medium for a bit, then began adding the egg mixture in three additions.

IMG_3463

The kids really enjoyed seeing the transformation from yolky soup to fluffy cake batter in a process that took barely minutes.

IMG_3466

I helped them portion the silky batter into the pans, then we popped the cakes into the oven.

IMG_3467

While the cakes baked, we turned our attention to the chocolate filling and frosting.

Ganache, while fancy-sounding, is actually pretty simple; it is just a combination of chocolate and heavy cream. The trick with ganache is to use the proper ratio of chocolate to cream — more cream will result in a more fluid product, (for glazing or to use as a sauce), slightly less cream will produce something firm enough to use as a frosting, while an even greater ratio of chocolate to cream will become firm enough to scoop and roll into truffles. The method is the same for any variation.

IMG_3474

I chopped the chocolate while my daughter heated the cream to simmering. She poured the hot cream over the finely chopped chocolate and we let it stand for a few minutes before she whisked it until it was shiny and smooth.

IMG_3480

IMG_3481

IMG_3482

The keys to baking and pastry? Timing and temperature. We now had a still warm cake from the oven, and a ganache that needed to firm up a bit. Lunch break.

IMG_3483

After everything was close to optimal temperature, we started assembling the cake. I like to cut the tops off my cakes to make them as level as possible. Also, you get to eat the scraps.

IMG_3487

We placed one cake, cut-side up, on the turntable, then topped that with a dollop of ganache. We smoothed the chocolate out to the edges of the cake with an offset spatula and added the second cake, cut-side down.

IMG_3489

Then the real mess-making began.

IMG_3493

I showed the kids how to hold a flat icing spatula in their dominant hand and dip it into the bowl of ganache resting on the opposite side.

IMG_3500

Using their other hand to rotate the turntable, they scooped up small amounts of ganache with the tip of the spatula and pressed it against the sides of the cake, sliding the spatula back and forth to spread the ganache evenly, (sort of). I resisted every instinct I had to jump in and smooth it out, or at least mitigate the flinging of chocolate, but they stayed on task and did a very fine job. When they had had enough, I tidied up the sides and evened out the top.

IMG_3505

Another key to pastry work? Decorate to hide mistakes! We had some crumbs mixed in with the frosting, so the kids opted to cover the entire cake with sprinkles.

They also covered the table, the floor, the dog…

But they were so happy with the results! And they were beyond excited to present it to their father, who was just as happy to eat it.

IMG_3516

Sour Cream Butter Cake, adapted just slightly from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Makes one tall 6-inch cake, (two layers), serving 8, or a 9-inch springform pan (one layer)

4 large egg yolks

2/3 cup (5.5 oz) sour cream at room temperature

1 1/2 t vanilla

2 cups (7 oz) sifted cake flour

1 cup (7 oz) sugar

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

3/4 t salt

12 T (6 oz) unsalted butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour the cake pans. In a medium bowl combine the yolks, 1/4 of the sour cream, and the vanilla. In the bowl of a standing mixer combine the dry ingredients. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream and mix on low until everything is just moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for 90 seconds to develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides and place the batter into the prepared pans. Smooth the tops of the cakes with a spatula. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cakes spring back when pressed lightly in the center. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes before removing. Let cool completely before frosting.

Ganache Frosting

I used 70% bittersweet chocolate for this recipe. If you choose to use chocolate with a lower percentage of chocolate liquor (cocoa bean solids), you can use slightly more chocolate and less cream. For example, if there is no percentage marked on a standard bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, or anything marked 50 – 60% use 1 cup of cream for 8 oz of chocolate. For 61 – 66%, use 1 1/4 cups for 8 oz of chocolate.

7 oz bittersweet chocolate, (70%), chopped into small pieces

1 cup heavy cream

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is smooth. Let the ganache cool at room temperature, without stirring, until it looks thick enough to spread. If it firms up too much before you can use it, set the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water until the ganache is partially melted, then stir gently to the desired consistency.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “A Cake of Their Own

  1. Oh my. This warms my heart and makes me squirm at the same time. Your kids are so earnest and dear but I can imagine just how your floor must have looked (and felt, and sounded) after they were done with those sprinkles and it kind of makes me want to scream. Bonus points to you for helping them do it themselves!
    A technical question for you: do you find that the two stage method gives you larger holes in your cakes? I don’t like making cakes this way, even though it’s so easy, because I always get a smattering of larger air bubbles in the cake and I don’t like the way it looks. Does this happen to you?

    • Oh dear, the mess. That is the hardest part for me — standing back and just letting it happen. Internally I am in panic mode, but it’s good practice for all involved! A side note: baking with kids takes at least 3x as long as doing it yourself.

      I haven’t noticed anything remarkable in the difference of air bubbles with the two stage method. I’ve gotten larger bubbles both ways if I’ve let the butter get too warm or if I’ve overfilled the pans. But usually I find the crumb of a two stage cake to be more velvety looking than that of a creamed cake. So I generally make a two stage cake unless I need to stack it or cover it with fondant.

  2. Pingback: Building Blocks, Pastry-Style | She Cooks With Kids

  3. Pingback: A Log By Any Other Name | She Cooks With Kids

  4. Pingback: Chocolate Cake for a Devil, Hold the Sauerkraut | She Cooks With Kids

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s