Recipe – Cake for any occasion

Since I’ve been baking cakes these past few weeks for V’s birthday and then for having a friend over, I thought I’d post the recipe. It’s a pretty useful cake recipe because you can bake the same cake over and over again and just do a different frosting or decoration, to change things up a bit.

Here I’ve used whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Chocolate frosting works well too.

The original recipe came from the Smitten Kitchen blog, which is a great cooking blog, where she has it posted as “the best birthday cake” recipe. It is a great recipe but I have slightly changed it, so I’ll post it below.

  • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in milk and yogurt until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (I like to drop mine a few times from two inches up, making a great big noisy fuss.) Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

This cake is pretty dense, maybe because I use yogurt and milk instead of the buttermilk used in the original recipe. I never have buttermilk on hand and I don’t care for its slightly sour taste. I like using yogurt instead.

For the frosting I used chopped strawberries mixed into whipped cream — no added sugar to either, and then sliced strawberries for the top.

I also go with chocolate frosting. Here’s the recipe I use for frosting. It’s adapted from a Hershey’s recipe, but of course I’ve lowered the sugar content

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup crushed walnuts
I tried the breadcrumbs to give it volume and a little crunch. It worked great. But you must make sure you have plain, and I mean totally plain — no salt, no seasoning — bread crumbs. Add more milk if it’s too dry.
V loved her chocolate birthday cake. She loves chocolate, no doubt about that. And she sang the happy birthday song to herself many many times after we finished the cake and into the night.

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