Baked Sunday Mornings: Everyone's Favorite Birthday Cake

People often ask me what is my favorite thing to bake. For a long time, I didn't have an answer to this question. After all, I bake so much and have tried so many recipes -- how could I possibly single out just one as a favorite? But in recent years I have reconsidered, and now I can at least identify a category of baked goods as a favorite: layer cakes. It's not that I think layer cakes are the best-tasting desserts -- it's just that when you show up somewhere with a layer cake, the cake becomes a reason to celebrate all on its own, whether you're already marking a particular occasion or not.

And when it comes to layer cakes, the gentlemen bakers at Baked are experts; I've had tremendous success with their cake recipes in particular. So I was looking forward to trying this week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, "Everyone's Favorite Birthday Cake." This is a cinnamon yellow cake with chocolate-cream cheese frosting that appears in Baked Occasions in honor of Martha Stewart's birthday.

This is one of the easier layer cake from the Baked repertoire. To make the cake batter, you beat softened butter with sugar and brown sugar; add eggs; and alternately add the dry ingredients (cake flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon) and sour cream. You divide the batter between two buttered and floured parchment-lined pans and bake. The frosting is also straightforward: you beat softened butter and softened cream cheese; add powdered sugar and salt; and incorporate melted and cooled dark chocolate.
Each of the cake layers was fairly tall and almost reached the top of my 2-inch cake pans. Leveling the cooled layers revealed some large and irregular air holes and tunnels, which is not a good thing. But I didn't have any problems with the frosting (and I only had to add the minimum amount of powdered sugar specified in the recipe) or assembling the cake. I kept the cake in the fridge overnight and let it come to room temperature before serving.
This cake tasted fine and it was popular with my tasters. But I wasn't particularly a fan. I personally have never appreciated the combination of cinnamon and chocolate, and I would have preferred this cake with vanilla instead of cinnamon. I also wish the cake had been more tender, with a finer crumb. The frosting didn't wow me, because it seemed to be less than the sum of its parts -- not very chocolatey, and yet lacking the luscious, fluffy qualities characteristic of cream cheese frosting. It was also a crusting buttercream and still had a tiny bit of fine grittiness, even after coming back to room temperature.

Not to say this isn't a good cake. It's just that I have a very high bar for Baked cakes. Many of them are out of this world (e.g., the Aunt Sassy Cake, Antique Caramel Cake, Holiday Spice Cake with Eggnog Buttercream, Oopsy Daisy Cake, Chocolate Coffee Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache, Caramel Apple Cake, Lemon Drop Cake, Malt Ball Cake, Sweet and Salty Cake, Bananas Cake, Whiteout Cake, Ultimate Birthday Cake, and Wintermint Cake). Amongst that constellation of bright stars, this one doesn't stand out.

Recipe: "Everyone's Favorite Birthday Cake" from Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.

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Louise said…
A party without cake is just a meeting -- Julia Child It sounds like "Everyone's Favorite Birthday Cake" is a misnomer.
Chelly said…
Talk about beautiful cakes! That right there is a beauty!
Unknown said…
Your cake decorating skills are amazing! Gorgeous cake!
Robyn said…
I agree, not my favourite of the Baked layer cakes, but still so much fun to make. I love the piping around the edge of the cake, so pretty!