Chocolate Cake with Buttercream frosting
Today is our wedding anniversary!! This is the first time I made a cake and the icing from scratch. This is also the first time I have attempted my hand at decorating a cake. It looked good and my husband loved it. The cake itself was really really soft and moist. I actually started off to make a black forest cake, but my whipped topping did not come out well, so at the last minute, I decided to do a buttercream frosting. It was pretty easy to make. I saved up some frosting and mixed in more confectioners sugar and colors to make a flower and small balls to decorate. Then I used chocolate melted with some milk to write over the cake.
This is the original recipe for the black forest cake. I modified the recipe slightly. Usually cherry liquor is poured over a black forest sponge, but my husband is not a fan of pastries soaked in syrup, so I skipped that step. For those of you who like juicy pastries, dab the cake with some cherry liquor or cherry syrup(the juice in which cherries are preserved).
All-purpose flour – 1 2/3 cups
Unsweetened cocoa powder – 2/3 cup
Baking soda – 1 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Butter – 1/2 cup
Oil(I used Canola) – 4 tbsp
White sugar – 1 1/2 cups
Large eggs – 2
Pure vanilla extract – 1 tsp
Buttermilk – 1 1/2 cups
(To make buttermilk at home, mix equal parts of plain yogurt and water, whisk to combine)
For the frosting:
Confectioner’s sugar – 2 cups plus 1/4 cup
Butter 1/2 cup
Pure vanilla extract – 1/2 tsp
Brewed coffee(strong) – 1 tbsp(optional)
Semi-sweet/milk chocolate chips – 1/2 cup
Milk/Cherry juice – as required (about 2 tbsp)
Pitted cherries – 8-10
Chocolate chips – 1/8 cup
Milk/Cream – 1 tbsp
Buttercream frosting(saved from the above step) – 1 tbsp
Confectioner’s sugar – 2 tbsp
Food colors – a pinch of each color(I used orange and yellow)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line the bottoms of two 9 inch round pans with parchment paper circles. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, oil and vanilla. Beat in flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, until combined. Pour into 2 round 8 inch pans.
- Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool completely. Remove paper from the cakes.
Note: Please cool the cakes completely before removing from the pan, or the cake is so tender, it tends to break. Even after removing the cake from the pan handle the cake very carefully and never hold the cake by the circumference. Always place your hand under the center of the cake.
- In a bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioners sugar, coffee and vanilla; beat until smooth. If the consistency is too thick, add a couple teaspoons of cherry juice or milk. You should be able to spread the frosting easily.
- Roughly chop some chocolate chips and keep aside.
- Place one cake on the serving plate or cake rack. If you are using cherry liquor or juice, sprinkle enough juice on the cake now. Do not drench the cake just sprinkle about 4-6 tbsp. Now take some forsting and place it on the top of the cake. Now work you way through the top and sides using an icing knife or the blunt edge of the normal kitchen knife. The amount of frosting you need to use is upto you. I need only a very thin layer of buttercream, too much makes the cake too sweet.
Note: You could cut each cake into two and repeat the same process with 4 layers.
- Once you are done spreading the frosting, sprinkle some chopped chocolate chips on the top. You could also add some chopped cherries.
- Place the second cake on the top of the first cake and cover with frosting. Once you are done covering the cake with frosting, take the chopped chocolate chips(you could use chocolate shavings, made with a peeler too), and stick them to the frosting along the side of the cake as shown in the picture. Use any method you find appropriate to do this :). I just used a spoon and dropped the chopped chocolate chips, used my fingers to help them stick to the frosting. Do not push them in completely.
- Now take a spoon and drop small dollops of frosting around the circumference of the cake, I did 8, you could do how many ever you want. Place pitted cherries on these little dollops. (be sure to drain the cherries on a paper towel before placing them on the cake, or the cherries have a little juice that can flow out and spoil the look of the frosting).
- To make the flowers and balls: Combine 1 tbsp of frosting with 2 tbsp of confectioners sugar and make a dough. divide this dough into two parts, 3/4 and 1/4. Take 3/4 portion of the dough and mix in a pinch of food color(I used orange) and shape the flower petals. If the dough is too soft to work with, freeze for 2-3 mins and then shape. After shaping, place them on a piece of aluminum foil and freeze for 5 mins. Similarly make the center of the flower with the 1/4 portion on the dough colored yellow. Make 7 small round balls with the yellow portion.
- Now place the flower center and petals on the cake, be careful when you pick them up, if you cannot pick them up just pick up the foil and slide them into position. :). Place the yellow balls between the cherries. You could do more leaves or vines if you have green color. Really, just use your imagination to make anything!!
- Melt the chocolate chips with 1 tbsp of milk in the microwave for 45 secs to 1 min and mix well to get a thick pouring consistency(not very runny). Add more milk if required. Drop this mixture to one corner of a ziploc bag. Nip the edge to the thickness you would like on your letters. Squeeze and write!
P.S. I have just described the decorating process, so it can help/give ideas to other beginners. I have never taken a cake decorating course, so please do let me know if I have made any mistakes!!