Sunday, August 17, 2008

Birthday Cake: A Short Chapter in the Saga

I make a birthday cake for my husband every year.

It started as a pretty regular cake, but quickly became a one- to two-day event. I was making all kinds of crazy cakes, with names I can't pronounce (but would be able to, if I were French, or were a real chef/baker.) This year I wimped out, using the kids as an excuse, but really the cause was laziness, and I made a pretty basic good old fashioned cake, which turned out just fine.

I managed to burn out the hand mixer (I mean come on, it was only what, forty years old? I thought it had a few good years left!) so I got quite the workout during my baking experience. Which was okay, as I pretty much bailed on my pre-vacation plan to run every morning and swim every afternoon. Oh, hey, did I mention that every year my husband's birthday is during our vacation? So these are vacation days by the sea that I am spending trying to bake things.

Simple as it was, the cake had multiple ingredients on my husband's favorite's list, so I think it was a relative success. I myself, not liking cake much at all, (except coffee cake, and blueberry buckle,) am not much of a judge.

This is the cake: The blueberry and orange layer cake with cream cheese frosting from
Bon App├ętit June 2001 :

and here is the recipe:


2 1/2 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs

1 cup whole milk


2 1/2-pint baskets blueberries

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

3 1/4 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2-pint baskets blueberries


For cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides; line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Sift first 3 ingredients into medium bowl. Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until blended. Beat in concentrate, peel, and vanilla. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with milk in 3 additions. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans on rack.

For filling:

Combine berries, sugar, and lemon juice in heavy small saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until mixture is reduced to 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally and mashing berries coarsely with fork, about 8 minutes. Chill filling uncovered until cold, about 30 minutes.

For frosting:

Beat cream cheese and butter in bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar in 4 additions, then orange concentrate, peel, and vanilla. Chill until firm but spreadable, about 30 minutes.

Cut around cakes to loosen. Turn cakes out. Peel off parchment.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread filling to within 1/2 inch of edges. Chill 5 minutes. Top with second layer, flat side down.

Spread 1/2 cup frosting thinly all over cake to seal. Spread remaining frosting over cake.

Mound remaining blueberries on top. (Can be made 1 day ahead; chill. Serve at room temperature.)

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