Monday, February 7, 2011

The most amazing birthday cake (that I ever made)

I'm a pretty good cook, but I generally suck at baking. I'm way too experimental to ever follow a recipe and I never have everything that one needs to complete said recipe, so I wing it! And winging it never seems to work in baking, though it is mighty successful in regular cooking.

In the last few months, I've decided to become a better baker. It started with my immediately successful production of Jim Lahey's no-knead bread (as popularized by Mark Bittman) in December. So I decided to make Brad, a guy who really doesn't love sweets, the birthday cake of his dreams. Since Brad likes English toffee a lot, I wanted to find something that had the richness of chocolate and the salty-sweetness of caramel. I was lucky enough to find this recipe and I think this will be my go to birthday cake forever.

A couple of tips:
1) I used parchment - it was revelatory. I will never bake a cake without parchment again.
2) I baked and cooled the layers and then drizzled the caramel in between. I then boxed this up and took it to my in-laws for the weekend with my prepared ganache in a tupperware. I thought that the caramel would keep the layers together, but it still slipped around and got cock-eyed. Next time, I would use toothpicks and then remove before frosting.
3) The icing was super hard after chilling for two days, so I tried to patiently bring it up to room temp. The impatient, ADD kid in me got bored and ended up nuking the icing in the microwave for about 30 seconds. I then stirred in 1 Tbs of milk and voila - perfection. I spread a think layer all over the cake, so it looked more like a birthday cake, then the drippy-ganachey look in the photo on the recipe site.

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