Saturday, January 3, 2009
Yesterday was my husband Randy's birthday. I think January 2nd has got to be the worst birthday of the year. Everyone is done with eating, drinking, shopping, spending money, celebrating - just done. He has never really cared much about his birthday but I think my attitude has rubbed off on him a bit. Last year (his 40th), I threw him a big surprise party and totally spoiled him which I think he really enjoyed. This year, he got to go skiing which is probably his favorite thing to do in the world. We have had all this crazy snow lately, so the mountains are just buried in it.
On New Year's Day we went to a lovely party at our friends John and Kimrick's. John's birthday is December 24th, another kind of tough one, so I volunteered to bring a birthday cake for the two guys. I recently bought Sky High, which is a cookbook filled with celebration worthy cakes. Each one is three layers (hence the title) and there were many good sounding ones to choose from.
Although I bake a lot, I don't often make layer cakes and am kind of intimidated by them. I figure the only way to get better at making them is to practice, so I decided to challenge myself with this cake and make something I have never made before. This is a checkerboard cake and to get the pattern, you need to buy a special cake pan which comes with three pans and a plastic divider. You make two different batters (in this case, a semi-sweet chocolate one and a white chocolate one) and pipe them into the pans according to the pattern that will produce the checkerboard. I am a totally visual learner, so reading the fairly vague directions in the book left me a little confused.
Fortunately, there was a tiny visual in the actual cake pan box so I kind of knew what to do and lo and behold it turned out. A huge bonus is that the cake was actually very tasty. The cakes themselves were extremely moist and a thin layer of chocolate ganache in between each layer gave it a nice rich flavor.
The white chocolate buttercream frosting was easy to work with and had a nice suble flavor of chocolate. Unlike most buttercream frostings I have made, this one did not make a ton - in fact, it almost didn't make enough. I had barely enough to pipe the decorative rosettes.
Because I did have some problems with the recipe, and because you have to buy a special pan, I am not going to post the recipe. (It's also really long.) If you are dying to try it, email me and I will send it to you.