Our 56th and 57th bakes from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person come to you from the Layer Cakes & Fancy Desserts and Foundational Recipes chapters of the book: the Classic Birthday Cake, topped with the chocolate variation of Claire’s Classic Cream Cheese Frosting. What an excellent way to kick off this next chapter of our baking journey!
WE FINALLY MADE IT TO LAYER CAKES. If you could not tell by my all-caps there, I have been LOOKING FORWARD to this chapter. Despite the finesse and technical ability you need for pies, tarts, cookies…there is something about a layer-cake that screams legit baker to me, even though technically they are usually a lot easier to do. I think I just love the idea of having more room for creativity and decorating. And they just look so impressive. So despite a few panic moments and a HUGE mess in the kitchen (see photo of the great sugar spill of 2022), I was super pleased the whole time I was baking this cake.
My overall thoughts/realizations:
-Pre-cut parchment paper rounds for cake pans is the only way to go. Buy them and you will not be sorry
-Making cake batter is a lot easier than anything else we’ve made so far
-Yellow cake is yellow because it uses a million egg yolks
-Make sure to cover your mixer when mixing the powdered sugar into your frosting
-Cream cheese frosting is indeed always the way to go
-Using a lazy Susan to ice your cake is genius and you will thank yourself for it
-A crumb coat is a game changer
-You can never have too many sprinkles
-People experience JOY when they see a birthday cake, even if it isn’t their birthday
I was so proud of this cake. The cake itself was so light and fluffy and delicious; it tasted like boxed cake, which is a HUGE win. The icing was just the perfect amount of sweet and balanced well with the unsweetened chocolate for a bit more depth of flavour. And then decorating?! It was so fun to try different designs with the icing and then go wild on the sprinkles. I chose a gold motif to make it feel like a New Years Cake and a “Happy Birthday to the World” kind of vibe! So happy birthday! Just for experience and the joy it brought me alone, I would give this cake a 5!
As much as I enjoyed all of the different flavours and techniques we were able to try while baking through the Bars & Cookies chapter, and as much as I appreciated the huge freezer store of cookies I was able to accumulate and then use up over the holidays, I have been ready to move on to a new chapter for a while now. While I’m slightly intimidated by the prospect of making some of these fancier desserts (*ahem* croquembouche), I have been really pumped to get in to more creativity with cake decorating.
This classic birthday cake did not disappoint. I had no idea until now that the difference between yellow and white cake is that the first uses primarily egg yolks, while the other uses primarily egg whites. It was amazing to see the rich colour you get from the yolks as the batter comes together. The texture of this cake was perfect— moist, fluffy, and everything you want from a cake.
I am also already in love with the cream cheese frosting in the book. There are a few different variations we’ll get to try over the next few weeks, and this chocolate version was so, so good. Not too sweet, which is key for me when it comes to frosting.
It was SO FUN to put my own personal spin on the final look of this cake. I was really happy with how oven my layers turned out (that’s never been a strong suit of mine…) and playing with the look of the frosting and sprinkles made for the best baking experience. This recipe gets 5-stars for sure!
Check back for our next bake: Confetti Cake!