I love birthday cakes. I feel that everyone should have whatever kind of cake they want on their birthday and always do my best to accommodate. When K wanted a sushi cake for her birthday, I made her one.
I made my father-in-law a Playboy Bunny one year.
I even made my nephews a He-Man cake.
Since it was my birthday last week, and a milestone at that, I decided to make myself whatever kind of cake I wanted. I thought long and hard about it and decided that what I really wanted was a giant Hostess Cupcake. I couldn’t find the exact recipe I wanted to use, so I took bits of different ones and created the perfect recipe for deliciousness.
This is a rather labor intensive cake because of all the steps. I made this in a single afternoon but if you don’t have that much time, you could do this in stages without any problem.
Step one, the cake -
I knew the cake needed to be a bit on the ‘commercial’ side. After all, Hostess Cupcakes never tasted homemade, they tasted, well, like Hostess. A homemade recipe, such as the one I used for J’s birthday a couple of years ago, wasn’t going to work in this application. Instead, I pulled out my trusty The Cake Mix Doctor book for this one.
Buttermilk Devil’s Food Cake
1 package (18.25 oz.*) plain (no pudding added) devil’s food cake mix
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups buttermilk**
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
*most cake mixes have been reduced in size. The manufacturers tell you that it doesn’t affect the cake but they are wrong. Your cakes will be smaller. Kroger store brand cake mix is still 18.25 oz and I have purchased enough to keep me in cakes for at least a year. Ann Byrn, author of The Cake Mix Doctor, recommends adding 1/3 cup flour to the mix to even things out for her recipes, which are all based on the larger size. Here is a link that I found helpful regarding this situation.
**I didn’t have buttermilk on hand, so I added a tbsp. of white vinegar to my measuring cup and then measured out the milk. Within minutes, I had soured milk which works perfectly as a substitute in baking recipes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two round 9″ cake pans and set aside.
Place the cake mix, cocoa, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend for one minute, stopping mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 more minutes. You’ll think it’s mixed before it is, so be sure to go the whole two minutes with the mixing. As Julia Child would say, the batter should fall like ribbons from your spoon.
Divide the batter between your prepared pans and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, until the cake springs back after being lightly touched. I start checking mine at the 20 minute mark since my oven bakes hot but yours might take longer depending upon your oven. Once they’re done, set them on cooling racks for 10 minutes and then turn-out of the pan. Continue cooling on racks until you’re ready for step two.
Step two, the filling -
1 1/4 cups whole milk
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup salted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
Combine the milk and flour in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding, about 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, cream together the sugar, butter and shortening on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the cooled flour/milk mixture and beat on high for 7 minutes. Spoon some out and set aside for the piping swirl on top of the cake.
Cut your cooled cake layers in half and layer them with the filling – cake, filling, cake, filling, cake, filling, cake. Make sure your leave your top cake layer plain because you’re going to top that with a chocolate ganache.
Step three, chocolate ganache -
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used a combination of semi-sweet and bittersweet because I didn’t want the chocolate to compete with the sweetness of the cake)
1 Tbsp. REAL vanilla
Place the cream in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly (you don’t want it to scorch). Place the chopped chocolate in a metal or glass bowl and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and add the vanilla. Let it sit until it thickens to a spreading consistency, maybe half an hour. Spread over the top of the cake and let it harden slightly. I used half of the ganache on the cake because it seemed like too much. You could cut this recipe in half or use all of the ganache on your cake, depending upon how much chocolate you like. I thought about frosting the sides with the ganache, which would make it very pretty, but I was running out of time and tired by the time I got to that step. Since it’s a torte, frosting the sides aren’t really necessary.
Pipe on your swirl using the reserved filling. I used a piping bag and a large round tip, but you could use a sandwich bag and cut-off the corner to pipe the swirl if you don’t have piping bags and tips. Chill this cake for at least a couple of hours before serving. Once it’s cold, it’s very easy to slice and could serve a fairly large number.
This cake turned-out exactly the way I wanted. It’s very decadent so not something you whip up on a regular basis. However, for a birthday, it’s absolutely perfect. Also, it doesn’t require any exotic ingredients, so it was easy to make using everything from my well-stocked baking pantry. Much cheaper than anything you can buy at a bakery and, honestly, much better.
Okay, now it’s your turn – what’s your favorite birthday cake?