I can’t believe it’s May! May is my favorite month, my birthday month. That makes me a Taurus…I know I have those bull-headed strong convictions, making me persistent and determined. But I also share the softer side, the warm-hearted loving side. I think those traits combine to make me a great baker, and this time of year always makes me think of what makes me that.
Birthday traditions make me think of going to Dorn’s on the Embarcadero in Morro Bay. My Aunt Willie was the pastry chef there before she ended up at the Apple Farm in San Luis Obispo. She always made me one of her chocolate cakes for my birthday, and in later years she taught me to make this Go-To Chocolate Cake. Now I can share the recipe with you, the way I share the cake with my loved ones on their birthdays.
My mom was always exuberant and manic, so naturally she would throw the wildest birthday parties. Can you imagine a carnival themed party, but complete with clowns, farm animals, flamethrowers, and jugglers?! In all the excitement, she usually burnt the cookies she meant to serve us. Nowadays, we have to be a little more careful in many ways, so I tweaked her recipe so the nut-free, gluten-free recipe here is safer to bring in. And don’t let the party distract you to much to take them out on time!
My last recipe here is adapted from another creation from Willie Vey. I tried to think of something my dad would like for his birthday, which he always celebrated by taking his board and maybe a new wetsuit out into the ocean at 6am. Celebrating that early in the morning makes it tough to merge breakfast and birthday, but I think this Bacon Blast cake does the trick!
The two cakes here certainly have more fat than I am used to cooking with, but I think I can live a little… it’s my birthday!
Chocolate Cake Recipe
2 cups boiling water
1 cup cocoa powder
2 ¾ cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
¼ cups sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
Pour water over cocoa powder and whisk until smooth; set aside to cool. Sift dry ingredients in a separate bowl. In a mixer blend the softened butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla together until fully incorporated. Alternate adding the cocoa mixture and the dry mixture in to the butter mixture. Keep mixing until the mixture is smooth with no clumps.
Pour into oiled and floured six inch rounds, about half way up the side of the pan. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes. Let the warm cakes set in a freezer until completely cooled.
Cut the tops off each cake round so that each is evenly level, about 3 ½ inches high.
1 ½ cups raspberries
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
Gently mix raspberries by hand (so as not to smash them) with sugar and cornstarch. Place the mixture in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the liquid passes the “finger across the spoon test*”.
*Dip the spoon into hot liquid and after cooled, carefully slightly run your finger across the spoon. If the liquid separates and does not run onto the area your finger swiped it is ready; for this recipe it should take about 7 to 10 minutes.
1 cup chocolate chips
½ cup heavy whipping cream
Warm the chips and cream over medium heat, eventually stirring to a smooth mixture. Let the ganache cool for about an hour.
Frost the cake with the ganache; it may take a few coats if the chocolate is not thick enough. Take chocolate curls and stick them to the sides of the cake.
Bacon Brown Butter Adaptation
The chocolate cake recipe is the same one I use for every birthday. For a sweet meat treat, prepare that cake but fill and ice it with this brown butter frosting and decorate with BACON!
Brown butter Frosting
1 cup of butter
4 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
About ¼ cup whipping cream (just enough to get the thickness of frosting you want)
Place the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until the butter browns (about seven minutes). Do not let it over-brown because once it starts to turn color it will burn fast! Set the mixture aside for about 15 minutes in refrigerator to cool.
Once cooled, slowly add the powdered sugar to the butter. After it is all combined, start adding the whipping cream a little at a time until you get the consistency you like. Frost the cake! Once frosted, sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with bacon bits. Place a mound of freshly made crisp bacon in the center of the cake.