What was on the menu?
- Fennel-rubbed pork tenderloin (I've never worked with fennel before, and it was a tad intimidating, but it turned out DELICIOUS. Ever since I first had the fennel fries at Bulldog Northeast I've been completely obsessed)
- Garlic mashed potatoes (skin on)
- Steamed green beans with toasted almonds, butter, and lemon juice
And the VERY BEST BIRTHDAY CAKE! Yellow cake from scratch with chocolate buttercream frosting.
I've attempted to white/yellow cakes from scratch several times before without much satisfaction. They've never been bad, but they've never been keepers, either.
This recipe is a keeper, no doubt.
Very Best Birthday Cake, from Smitten Kitchen
4 C + 2 T cake flour
2 t baking powder
1-1/2 t baking soda
1 t table salt
2 sticks butter, softened
2 C sugar
2 t vanilla extract
4 eggs, at room temp.
2 C buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350, and spray 2 round pans - 9 inches in diameter - with non-stick cooking spray.
Sift together your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, the beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined. It's okay if the batter looks a bit curdled.
Add your dry mixture in three additions, mixing after each addition until just combined.
Pour batter evenly in to both prepared pans. Holding the pans a few inches above the counter, drop each pan individually a few times in order to remove air bubbles that may be hangin' out in the batter.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in pans for a bit, then remove the cakes from the pans and allow to cool completely. If your cake is even a little warm, the frosting will melt all over, and you'll have one BIG mess on your hands (and an ugly cake).
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, from Nestle Toll House
3 C powdered sugar
2/3 C cocoa
1 stick butter
6 T milk
1 t vanilla
Beat 1 C powedered sugar, cocoa, butter, 2 T milk, and vanilla. Gradually beat in remaining milk and sugar until creamy.
Layer cakes are a bit tricky to frost, and it really does take some practice. Not that I should be the one to talk, because I'm far from a pro cake-froster. Flip one of your cakes upside down on the plate on which you'd like to serve the cake. Start by frosting the flat surface facing up (which is the bottom of the cake). Put a big ol' dollop on the top and spread evenly with a knife.
Place your other cake upside down on top of the bottom cake. Put another big ol' dollop on the top and spread. Then, using hefty scoops of frosting, frost the sides.