Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thomas' Birthday Cake

Thomas' birthday was two weeks ago, so of course I had to make a special cake for my hubs!  He asked for chocolate cake with mango filling, buttercream frosting and toasted coconut.  I thought white or yellow cake might go with the mango and coconut better than chocolate, but he wanted chocolate, and what the birthday boy wants, the birthday boy gets!  And let's face it, it's pretty hard to go wrong when chocolate is involved!

For the cake I turned to my good friend Fannie Farmer.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

1 2/3 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teasoppon salt
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
1/2 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.

The recipe calls for buttermilk, but I don't normally have this on hand, so I do an easy substitution.  Just use one cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice mixed in.  Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes so the milk can go sour.  I do this first and then work on the rest of the recipe while I wait for chemistry to work its magic on the milk.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together.  Then add the milk, oil and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.

I used the same handy trick from Alton Brown for baking this cake as I did for Jayme's cake to make sure I could get it out of the pan easily.  Check out the details here.  Add the batter to the pan.  

Pop it into the oven for about 30 minutes (I rotated it halfway through).  Allow to cool a bit before removing from the pan, and allow it to cool completely before removing the paper.  Then do it all again to make the other layer!

Mango Buttercream Filling

I am sad to say that this was kind of a bust.  The flavor was good, but the texture wasn't quite what I wanted and it didn't have much structural integrity as I needed (big problem for the filling of a layer cake!).  Needless to say I was really disappointed, especially since I wanted Thomas' cake to be perfect (he's pretty much the most wonderful husband ever, so I think he deserves an awesome cake, don't you?).  But I wanted to get the cake done before Thomas got home from work and time wasn't going to allow me to try something else.  That being said, I'll give you the gist of what I did so you don't make the same mistake!  Isn't that considerate of me?  Yeah, I thought so, too.  You're welcome.

I used canned mangos to get about 1 cup of mango puree.  I went for canned instead of fresh mangos because mangoes can sometimes be a little fibrous and I wanted to avoid that texture.  I also strained the mangoes before pureeing.

I mixed the mango puree in with a half batch of my buttercream frosting (recipe to follow since I used it to cover the cake).  I think the root of the problem is that mango has a pretty high liquid content which I failed to account for.  I have since explored the interwebs a bit and have concluded that mixing mango with buttercream is simply not a good option for filling, but will try some other means to make a mango filling in the future.

Buttercream Frosting

This is pretty much a fail-safe recipe and you've seen it before, but here it is again, this time increased by half:

1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature 
6 cups powdered sugar 
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and vanilla. Blend the sugar in one cup at a time.  You may need to stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure it all gets thoroughly incorporated.  Beat in the milk and continue mixing until light and fluffy.

Toasted Coconut

1 bag sweetened shredded coconut
Set the oven to somewhere between 300 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spread a thin layer of the coconut on a cookie sheet.  

You'll definitely want to use a Silpat or line the sheet with foil just in cake some of the coconut burns, because that would be really unfun to try and clean off later.  Place the coconut in the oven for about 2 minutes, then pull it out, toss it around and pop it back in for another 2 minutes.  It's burns easily, so don't walk away from this.  And make sure you have some extra on hand just in case you do burn some - I didn't even need to use the entire bag to make enough to cover the cake.

Putting it together

I still don't have a pretty serving platter, so I carefully placed one of the cakes on a cutting board.  Since the filling wasn't as firm as I wanted it to be I evened out the top of this cake.  

I also put some buttercream in a bag and snipped the corner off.  I piped it around the edges of the cake to create a dam to hold the mango filling on top of the cake.  Next I poured the mango filling on top of the cake, being very watchful of the edges.  

I soon realized the filling wouldn't be able to support the top layer of cake on its own, so I stuck some toothpicks in around the edges of the cake (sticking halfway up so they would go into the top layer) to support the entire structure.  I very carefully placed the top layer of cake on and then quickly frosted the entire thing so the buttercream could act as a glue to keep the mango in and the whole thing standing tall.  I took handfuls of the coconut and sprinkled it all over the cake and pressed it against the sides.  

Lastly I took some of the remaining buttercream and mixed in some food coloring so I could write on the cake.


The whole thing tasted really good!

Happy Birthday, Thomas!

1 comment:

  1. OMG yum! You really go all out for birthday cakes! I admire your patience for all these complicated steps