Sometimes, I think dropping out of college and dedicating my life to cake baking could be the right thing to do.
Then, I usually find a cable bill or something equally real-life obnoxious awaiting on my desk.
So may be not.
But cake is still tastier than college.
Especially birthday cakes. Those are my most favorite cakes.
One, because birthday cake means someone must be having a birthday… obviously.
Birthdays are fun. It’s like everyone has their own mini-holiday.
And two, birthday cake provides a sweet opportunity to bake a chunk of someone’s personality into cake form.
Which is also fun.
The act of creating somebody’s birthday cake is a sacred undertaking indeed. I mean, no one fulfills their annual rite of passage until candles are blown out— no birthday cake, no moving on in life. That’s just the way it is.
Thus, Birthday cakes are a big freaking deal.
Suppose I bake a carrot cake tomorrow… Facebook tells me I have no friends celebrating birth tomorrow. So it makes absolutely no difference if anyone I encounter on the daily has a thing for carrot cake… quite frankly, I don’t give a flying flip.
Carrot cake is universally loved.
I’m not baking carrot cake for anyone in particular.
In fact, I’m not baking carrot cake at all.
Pretend I made a logical point just now. That’s what makes us friends.
What I mean to say in an obscure, non-sensical sort of way is that you know you’ve successfully seized my affection the year I make your birthday cake. I feel that sentiment holds true for any serious birthday cake enthusiast.
Cause as fun as the whole shebang is, it’s a serious dedication.
It’s a process.
A lengthy process.
An involved process.
A process beginning with deep reflection. Something along the lines of if this person were served as dessert, they would taste like…
Turns out that one of the best friends/roommates ever, who I just so happen to have the pleasure of knowing/living with, would taste really s’moring.
If you weren’t aware, s’moring is the absolute polar opposite of boring.
Yeah, s’moring people are peppy and goofy and encouraging and childlike in all the best possible ways. You would expect to find yourself by a campfire eating s’mores with them at some point.
S’moring people also live on the adventurous, outdoorsy, take-a-hike side of life. So yet again, campfires and s’mores would not be out of the ordinary with someone s’moring.
Not to mention, s’moring people could very likely beg you to make a certain cupcake just about every time you look as though you might be heading towards the general vicinity of the kitchen.
Oh, and those of a s’moring nature tend to be rather butt-headed at times… such that they argue to the death over what constitutes a toasted marshmallow vs a burnt marshmallow.
Dude. So s’moring.
So once you’ve honed into an individual’s edible persona, phase two of custom cake-birthing involves releasing the images that have been dancing around your sugar-laden noggin onto paper.
I find lots of perdy cake pictures surrounded by not so perdy scribbles stuffed into random notebooks and drawers throughout my life.
Potentially nifty scrapbook?
Next comes recipe development. Not quite so fun, but kind of important all the same.
And finally, game-time… the production.
Actually composing the cake requires putting on your champion face.
It demands strength, patience, vigilance, and tact.
You may think you’re done for when you crack 2 of 4 cakes coming out the pan… keep calm.
You may want to give in to your pitiful arm’s pleas for mercy after 20 minutes of beating the snot out of sugar and egg whites… stand strong.
You may very well want to call it quits at 4 am when you’re still torching 21 marshmallows with a Zippo… carry on.
You’ve got this.
Just want to throw a shout out to one of my best frands in this whole wide world for 21 years of awesome life-living. She’s the cat’s me-ow.
Happy Birfday Amandurrrr.
For the Graham Cracker Cake
- 4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 6 eggs, separated
- 3 cups milk
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of 4 (9″) cake pans with a round of wax paper, then grease the sides and bottom of pans. Whisk together the graham crackers, flours, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Beat together the butter, shortening, and sugars until light and creamy. Mix in the egg yolks, vanilla, and milk. Add dry ingredients into the mixture in increments. Beat egg whites with mixer until stiff. Fold into the batter. Pour into prepared pans and bake 30-35 minutes or until test done. Cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan, then finish cooling on a wire rack.
For the Chocolate Ganache Filling
- 16 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped fine
- 16 ounces (2 cups) heavy cream
Place the chocolate in a stainless steel mixing bowl.
In a saucepan, heat the cream over medium low heat until just simmering, pour immediately over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Whisk together the chocolate and cream until smooth. Allow the ganache to come to room temperature (about 2 hours). You can place the ganache in the fridge to speed the process along. Using a hand mixer, whisk the ganache until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
Place the first layer of the cooled cake onto a serving plate and evenly spread 1/3 of the whipped ganache almost to the edges. Carefully place the next layer on top and repeat; then, again with the third layer, placing the final cake layer on top.
For the Marshmallow Frosting
From Martha Stewart
- 8 large egg whites
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.
Transfer bowl to electric mixer (or hand mixer) fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form… this can take up to and even over 10 minutes, be patient. Add vanilla, and mix until combined.
Spread a thin crumb coat of the marshmallow frosting over the top and sides of the cake and allow to set for a few minutes. Continue to evenly frost the entire cake.
- marshmallows–using a lighter, set the top of each mallow aflame and allow to burn to desired extent before blowing out the flame (or simply brown the tops). Alternatively, you can dip the marshmallows in chocolate, followed by a coat of graham cracker crumbs before the chocolate hardens
- Graham crackers– whole, broken, or crushed into crumbs
- Hershey’s chocolate squares
- 8 oz semisweet chocolate + 1/2 Tbsp butter– melt over low heat, stirring frequently until melted and smooth; pour over frosted cake
Get artistic and garnish as you please.