Simple Iced Chocolate Birthday Cake

For the past few years I’ve made the birthday cakes for my family. I usually tend to do a frosted layer cake, whatever variety they want. I don’t think I would have the patience to shape cakes into numbers or whatever, and anyway I prefer doing the former to the latter. Does this make me a bad uncle?

Anyway, this cake was made for my own uncle’s birthday in late September. My brief was “chocolate, with a firm buttercream, like my mother used to.” Okay……

So I turned to my standard chocolate buttermilk cake, and made an easy chocolate buttercream to fill and top it off. I was tempted to crown it off with chocolate buttons, but I desisted. You may use them if you so desire.

Simple Iced Chocolate Birthday Cake – adapted from The Country Farmhouse Cookbook

Even though I’ve labelled this as a birthday cake, this is what I use as my everyday chocolate cake. Sometimes you just need a chocolate cake there, on the side of the kitchen, on a glass cake stand with a dome like in old-fashioned tea room, for when you have friends over.

Chocolate buttermilk cake

225g plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

50g cocoa powder

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp instant espresso powder

125g soft butter

250g caster sugar

250ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 180c/fan 160c/gas 4. Grease and base-line two 20cm sandwich cake tins with baking parchment. Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa in a bowl, and set aside. In another bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla and espresso powder together,  and set this aside too.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Add the flour mixture, and the buttermilk, alternately, mixing well between each addition.

Divide between the tins. Bake, 30-35 minutes, until firm to the touch, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean when removed.

Cool in the tins on wire racks for a few minutes, then invert onto the racks and allow to cool completely. Fill and ice as desired.

50g dark chocolate

115g butter, softened

175g icing sugar, sifted

1 tsp vanilla extract

Break the chocolate into a bowl. Allow to gently melt in either the microwave or over gently simmering water in a pan. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, cream the butter, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Scrape in the cooled chocolate, and mix to combine.

To assemble:

Take four small pieces of greaseproof paper, and place them on your serving plate, this is to catch any icing that falls off. Place one layer of cake on the top of these. Spread with half the icing, top with the other cake and spread the remaining icing. To assist with all this, I use an icing turntable, and an offset spatula.

Decorate the top, if desired, with sprinkles or any small sweets you like. Remove the pieces of paper from underneath the cake, they should just slip out. Keep covered until needed.

Note: If you want to, make double the amount of buttercream and use to fill and entirely cover the whole cake.


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