Making a birthday cake


I am making a cake today for a very important birthday. Its a 3 layer Chocolate Ricotta cake with Eggnog filling and Vanilla Buttercream. I made the cakes last night with the help of my lovely assistant, Dixie who had the ever important job of drinking Riesling, reading the recipe to me and crocheting a scarf. She’s an excellent assistant. Most of my Riesling is gone and she made half a scarf, not to mention my cakes are made.

I had ricotta cheese that I had to use up because I had it for another recipe. I do not like ricotta if I can feel the texture of it. For me, it should be used in baking only. So, I hunted for a Chocolate Ricotta recipe. This is what I found.

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup Whole Milk Ricotta
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups water

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of two 9″ cake pans. Sift dry ingredients, mix together in bowl, set aside.

In mixer bowl, mix sugar, oil, ricotta and vanilla on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs. Beat until incorporated. On low speed, beat in flour alternately with water in 3 additions. Scrape bowl and beat at medium speed for 1 minute.

Divide equally in pans and bake for 35 to 45 minutes until cake test done. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then turn onto plates.

Its a very wet batter. I was surprised. I managed to put out 3 8-inch cakes. They cooled overnight and I gently turned them out this morning. When Dixie and I sampled them last night, we both felt the cake was lacking, but in tasting it this morning, its lovely. Its rich, chocolatey and moist. I’m pleased.

(11:30 am)

Now to the eggnog custard. I’m too impatient to worry about baking a custard. I want to make it on the stovetop and refrigerate it. I’m adapting a baked custard recipe for stovetop. This is the original recipe

Eggnog Custard

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1  cups milk

3/4 cup eggnog

3/4 cup water

1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine milk, eggnog and water in saucepan. Scald (medium heat until you see tiny bubbles around the edge of the pan). Mix the egg, salt and sugar. Add hot milk mixture SLOWLY to temper the eggs. Once the eggs are up to temp, add them to your saucepan. Cook on low, stirring regularly with wooden spoon.

At this point, I have tasted it and man oh man is it awesome. I’m continuing to cook it until its a thicker consistency, but not actually thick. Remember that custards thicken as they cool. Poor into a dish and refrigerate.

Now, to make the frosting! I’m just doing a simple buttercream. Although sometimes, its not as simple as it should be because sometimes you realize as you’re making something that you don’t have the main ingredient. I’ll be right back. I have to run to the store…


Okay, back. Two things. One: Never ever leave your custard cooking on the stove as you leave the house. Not that I’m saying I did this… I’m saying I ALMOST did this. I realized what I was doing and finished up the custard. Two: Its bloody cold outside, people!

I didn’t say they were two important things.


Vanilla Buttercream

1 cup butter

3 ish cups powdered sugar

2tbs vanilla

2tbs milk

Cream butter, add sugar slowly, alternating liquids and sugar.

Its delicious!

I’m waiting for the custard to cool. I’m impatient. I want to put the cake together!


Here’s the thing. If you decide that stovetop custard is faster than baked custard, you’re wrong. Its not. Rassafrakkin’murrmble…

So, I put the stupid thing in the oven. So much for the gym being on the list of things I can accomplish today.

Otherwise, everything is lovely.

I’m going to the store for wrapping paper.


I pulled the custard out of the oven, spooned a small amount into a bowl and cooled it super quick in the freezer. I built the cake, but my apartment is super warm, so my frosting was too soft. I did a crumb coat that was useless. There are now crumbs throughout the frosting. Whatever. Its a three layer Chocolate Ricotta Cake with Eggnog Custard and Vanilla Buttercream, like I promised. Its built and lovely and I want to eat it. It could be prettier, but life happens.


ETA 11/30:

The trip to Seattle. Wowza. I’m not sure if any of you are familiar with the Leslie Effect, but its similar to Murphy’s Law. Witness the Custard incident or crumb coating above. On my way to the ferry, I had to slam on my breaks to avoid the idiot in front of me who slammed on theirs. The cake’s top two layers slid. I tilted the cake to slide them back, but the damage was done. Fortunately, I am on time enough that I can swing by my work and stab some bamboo skewers into it to hold it steady.

I did not anticipate the damage. When the top two layers slid, the middle layer broke. I pushed it back together and it was skewered in place. The crumbs in the icing were less of a problem now as it was more like I had mashed the icing and cake together and just pretended it was a real cake. Awesome.

Ultimately, the recipient of the cake did not care if the cake prechewed itself. It was delicious, and half of it was pretty. Yayyyy Cake!


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