Feb 28, 2010

Cake Worthy of a Birthday

What's the best thing about birthdays? Two words...Birthday Cake. Hands down.

I am a strong believer that birthdays deserve cake. Not cupcakes. Not pies. Not tarts or cookies (unless they are in addition to the cake). For me, a birthday is just not a birthday without a slice of your favorite cake. And you can gather a lot about someone by their favorite kind of cake. Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting? Vanilla cake with chocolate frosting? Red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting? Each is so very different, as are the people whose preference they are.

I love it when someone’s birthday comes along because it gives me a legitimate reason to bake a cake. As much as I would love to bake cakes all the time, I don’t because it makes it all the more special when the occasion for cake arises.

One of my greatest friends' bday was on Saturday. Knowing I would be baking a cake helped me get through the week. As if I could see a cake on a pedestal at the end of the tunnel… it made all the work in the week bearable. This friend is definitely the chocolate cake – chocolate frosting kind of girl. Meaning, basically, you can’t help but love her.

I got the recipe for this cake from Tartine Bakery’s cookbook. I had the cookbook before I had actually visited the bakery, and let me say that the place deserves its own post. If you are ever visiting San Francisco, you will have missed a treasure if you don’t stop here somewhere along the way. But like I said, i'll fully express my love for it at a later time, right now all I can focus on is THE cake who happens to be sitting right here, tempting me with its chocolate cologne and good looks.

It is a chocolate devils food cake, with chocolate ganache frosting. Need I say more? I don’t think so… but I will anyways. The creation of this cake is still fresh in my mind. Like one of those rare occasions when you can remember yesterdays dream so well, you feel as if you closed your eyes you could jump back to the scene.

It was Saturday morning and, being the early bird that I typically am, I was up at 7:00. But even 7:00 was a bit early for me on a Saturday morning, I think it was the excitement and anticipation that woke me up. Like every Christmas morning of my childhood (psh! who am I kidding, this STILL happens every year), when you wake up at 6am because your internal clock KNOWS that Santa has come and gone and its show time. Except in this case, instead gifts under the tree, I was excited about the butter I knew i had left on the counter overnight to soften. The butter was ready, and I couldn’t wait any longer to unwrap it. The cake baking ensued before 8am.


I have to say, i've never seen such a beautiful batter. It might have been the most beautiful thing to come from that shiny red kitchenaid. I wanted to swipe my entire hand finger through it sooo badly, but it was much too early to be eating cake batter. As much as I wish differently, cake batter is not a sufficient breakfast.  To ensure the finger swipe wouldn’t occur, I started to fill the mixing bowl with water. It was heart wrenching to watch the chocolate dissolving into the soapy water, and as the water level approached the top I lost control. Like my brain went into neutral and survival instinct kicked, my index finger swooped up the last bit of batter from a watery death. My housemate said the sounds I made as I tasted this batter were borderline inappropriate. When you make this, I recommend not resisting a taste and inviting every man woman child and dog to try this batter.

While I aim to only post recipes that I have made at least somewhat my own, I didn't make any adaptations to the recipe from this cookbook. I didn’t want to mess with success the first time around. I wasn't going to write about it, but it is just too good not to share. I did however, use raspberry jam instead of caramel between the layers. Since I used the recipe to a 'T' I don’t know if I can post it on here because of copyright reasons or what not. But I will give you a little secret. You can Google ‘tartine bakery devils food cake’ and find it there. It feels weird not leaving you guys with a recipe on this post :( I’m going to look into the rules for sharing recipes from cookbooks. If anyone knows, please do let me know

The letters on the cake are my go to for birthday cake decorating. I melt white chocolate chips slowly in the microwave, and then pipe it on to parchment paper. Let it set until it is completely cool and the letters pop right off the paper. Stick them on the cake and viola! I like this better than piping directly onto the cake because I have been known to misspell ‘birthday’ a few times. Don’t judge.
This cake deserves a birthday just like any person does and I know just the way to celebrate it.


  1. best birthday cake ever and the letters were delicious

  2. Amazing cake, what a wonderful friend you are. Your photographs are so beautiful. I think a cook book that includes your amazing images should be in the works.