Monday, August 6, 2012

Food Photography - The BEST Birthday Cake!

Although, Sacramento will always be home and it's sometimes rough being away from family, friends, Linda and my biz living in the bay area has it's perks.  One perk being a bart ride away from hanging out with my cousin, Laura!  After a delish, but after a rather un-birthday-like cake last year I decided that we should up the ante and do something a little more spectacular.

I'm a bit of a pinterest feind. (follow me on pinterest HERE) So I opted to make a "pinterest-worthy" cake for her birthday.  I took the design inspiration from another cake, and made it more Laura-like by combining the BEST yellow cake with a light chocolate butter cream and a rich chocolate ganache.  Finish that off with some edible heart-shaped gold sprinkles and you have the prettiest cake that you ever wanted to eat!

Laura made SUPER adorable precious stone wine stoppers! 

I kick myself because I have no pictures of the cake sliced (sorry, dear readers, but I confess I was much too busy eating it to pick up my camera.)

Want to make it too??
Yeah, you do.

Martha Stewart's Versatile Vanilla Cake

2 sticks (1 cup) softened unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract (use the good stuff, it's worth it!)
1 cup low fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour 2 8-inch baking pans.  If you are crazy like I am, you will add rounds of parchment on the bottom of the pans for easy removal.  Not necessary if you trust your pans and your buttering skills!
Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, yolks and vanilla.  Combine remaning dry ingredients.  Alternately beat in dry mixture with the buttermilk into the butter/sugar mixture.  Martha recommends that you start and end with the flour mixture, but we can't all be as perfect as she, so don't sweat the small stuff.  It all tastes delish in the end!  Divide the batter between the two cake pans and smooth to the edges.  Bake them for approx 30-35 mins.  Run a knife around the edges of the pans and invert the cakes on to a wire rack to cool completely.  ...And I mean COMPLETELY.

Light Chocolate Buttercream

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) room temp
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp milk or heavy cream (depending on how naughty you feel, it honestly doesn't make a huge taste difference)

Cream butter until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar and cocoa with the mixer off (Genius me did it with the mixer on low and I came out looking worse for the wear.)  Mix them in slowly and bring the mixer up to speed and add the remaining ingredients.  Add more milk/cream if you think the frosting should be thinned a bit.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

1 package dark chocolate chip
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla

In a double boiler melt the chocolate chips and heavy cream together.  The trick to a double boiler is to not let the simmering water touch the bowl hovering over it containing all your ingredients.  Despite the name "boiler" you should actually NOT have your water boiling.  Off the heat add your vanilla and mix.  Stick this in the fridge for a bit while you frost your cake.

Cake! Assemble!

If your cake is not cool, the buttercream WILL melt and you will have a mess on your hands.  A delicious mess, but a mess all the same.  This cake is amazing because you barely need to trim the top to have them fit together perfectly, but if you do need to trim some then go ahead and do so.  Frost your cake with as much buttercream as you want.  The whole batch covers and fills the cake quite generously.
Hopefully your ganache is not scaldingly hot by now.  It should be warm, but not hot.  Again, if it's hot the buttercream will melt.  Spoon the ganache on top of your frosted cake and use an offset spatula to push the ganache over the edges and let it do it's natural drippy thing.
Add your sprinkles or edible glitter as soon as you're done with this step.

Make sure to refrigerate your cake until about 1-2 hours before you're ready to eat it....if you can wait that long :)


  1. Hi Corey...Love the cake and your are very good! I wish you success in this venture and best wishes for you Big Day! Susan C

  2. Wish I had been there to claim a piece. What a fantastic birthday cake for Laura. Looks professional and I bet it was super delicious!

  3. Uh-hmmmm. Why isn't Corey bringing dessert tonight to quilt group???? (sorry Michele) Corey, don't you think that would be a grand idea??? How bout next month when you don't have anything else to do.......
    Well done. Happy you watched and learned from the other chefs in the house.


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