The Birthday Boy Bakes his own Cake

Derek is thirty-one years old today, and there’s no better way for a master chef in the making to celebrate his birthday than to bake his own cake. After a little research, he selected a kitchen-tested chocolate cake recipe by the chefs of “Team Tasty 101: YouTube- How to Make the Ultimate Chocolate Cake.” It has three layers, three secret ingredients, and the perfect contrast of textures and flavors. We spent our Sunday evening beating eggs and humming along to jazz tunes while following a football play-off game in the background.

Expanding our repertoire in the baking realm required making use of new kitchen equipment tools like our sifter to separate larger particles of dry ingredients into a fine mixture of flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and Ghirardelli’s dutch-pressed cocoa powder.  A separate bowl was used to blend the wet ingredients together with butter, sugar, eggs, and mayonnaise (Secret Ingredient #1).

In a large glass measuring cup, we combined a tablespoon of vanilla extract, espresso powder (Secret #2), and 12 oz of stout (Secret #3). Derek cracked open a bottle of Founder’s Canadian Breakfast Stout (Grand Rapids, MI), a Christmas gift from his sister, Jenn, and took a sip to log it onto his tasting profile on the Untapped app before adding it to the mix. We slowly incorporated the wet and dry ingredients together until the batter was smooth and creamy. The last step was to roughly chop up a bar of dark chocolate and fold into the batter before spreading into three cake pans. A warm, chocolatey scent filled the apartment while our cakes baked at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, we had a dark chocolate buttercream frosting to whip up with softened butter, vanilla, milk, and cocoa powder.

When the cakes came out clean from the toothpick test, they had to rest in their pans for 15 more minutes before I could trim the edges and flip them over onto racks to cool completely. Now for the fun part! We converted an upside down springform pan into a cake stand and smoothed each layer with a coat of buttercream frosting. This is where Derek’s new off-set spatulas really came in handy for decorating the cake with layers of light, even strokes. 

Even though we had baked the cake a day early, it felt fitting to sing “Happy Birthday” and try a slice of the cake when our masterpiece was finally complete. Rich, dark chocolate in moist, fluffy layers with a smooth texture of buttercream seemed to just melt in our mouths. This was our first time baking a homemade cake together and it will not be the last. Happy Birthday, Chef Derek!

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