Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chocolate Cake Baking

If you are going to eat junk; wouldn't you like to know what goes into it?! That is one of the reasons I have been making cakes since I was a young.

The other reason is pure satisfaction!! As you can see, I am no real cake decorator. This cake turned out so yummy and delish!! But the picture just doesn't show it's true beauty (I know, beauty is in the eye-of-the-beholder.)

Wouldn't you like to desert the box cakes and try learning to make a cake from scratch?? If I can do it, anyone can!!

When I was a young girl growing up in Hawaii (yep) 'if' I made a cake, it was from one of those famous Betty Crocker boxes. Once I was married, the strong desire to master the art of cake making got a-hold on me. I never aspired to making one of those picture-perfect cakes or attending a cake making class. That is why I think this post would be 'doable' for most moms because I have not been perfect in my cake making pursuits, just simply serving my family.

A homemade cake is more tasty than a box cake!! Did you know that?? Even when my cake has failed, it has been delicious. I was just too hurried and harried with many little ones chattering around me. I wouldn't have it any other way and continued with each birthday making another cake. 

Tips for Cake Making Success:

  • Make the cake AFTER your children are asleep (napping or late at night)
  • Don't frost a warm cake!!!! (Even a good frosting slides off)
  • Take out ALL your ingredients and set them on the counter.
  • As you use each ingredient, put it away.
  • The cooler your cake before frosting, the better!!

Tips for Sure Failure in Cake Making:

  • Starting your cake at 4pm and needing it for 6pm (LOL, been there done that!!)
  • Forgetting to check that you have EVERYTHING!! (off to the store!!)
  • Frosting a HOT cake (this is experiential blogging)
  • Making my dear husband a birthday cake (Do you know how many times his cake has failed?? This can't happen!!)
  • When you have a migraine!!!!
  • Making a 'healthy' cake with whole wheat flour, carob, or substituting sugar with honey (just forget about health on a birthday and 'go for it!!') Healthy cakes turn out flat because the flour doesn't have enough gluten. Honey doesn't work so well in the frosting although you can rest assure d that your ADDH hyperactive toddler won't get as fast a 'high' out of his piece (why do I know all this?!)
  • Make SURE to put each ingredient AWAY before your toddler or teen asks you something. Try to remember whether you used it first before you actually put it away, LOL!!
  • Having NO toothpicks on hand!! Do you know how many cakes I have salvaged with toothpicks?? You can't tell on a good toothpick job until you take a bite!!
  • Do you have anything to add?? I'm sure I'm not the only mother who has a 'story to tell!!'

Cake Batter
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
5 eggs
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk


1 stick butter
2 packages cream cheese
4 cups confectioner sugar
1 or 2 tablespoons milk (if too thick...but be careful!!)

  1. Cream butter and sugar together in a mixer. I prefer my Kitchen Aid over my Bosch for mixing cakes. I use the paddle not the whisk.
  2. Separate the white from the egg yoke. Mix the whites in a small bowl with a hand-held mixer until it makes peaks.
  3. Add yokes and egg white mixture to creamed butter and sugar in the bigger bowl.
  4. In another bowl, mix by hand, all the dry ingredients: cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder, & salt. This step is important!! Have you ever combined steps and gotten a bite of baking soda or clump of baking powder in your mouth??
  5. To the creamed mixture, add alternatively: the dry ingredients and milk. If you add a little of the dry mixture and then the milk, then the dry mixture and then milk, alternatively, your cake mixture will have a smoother texture.
  6. Grease THREE round cake pans with Pam, Crisco, butter, or lecithin spray, whatever you use. 
  7. Sprinkle a little flour or confectioners sugar into those sprayed pans. This is VITAL so your cake comes out of the pans with ease.
  8. Pour cake mixture into three round cake pans as evenly as possible. If this does not come out worry. You will need one for the bottom layer that doesn't have as much of a hump. 
  9. Pre-heat oven to 350*F and when it is UP to temperature, put all three pans on the same shelf (for even baking)
  10. Bake for 40-50 minutes/ and 20-30 minutes for cupcakes. Check with a toothpick or something similar. You insert it into the center of one of the cake layers. It MUST come out clean. It cannot have any goo on it.
  11. Cool ten minutes (DO NOT RUSH!!!!!) before taking the cakes out of the pans.
  12. Insert a dinner knife around the edges of the cakes to loosen them. Push on the bottom to loosen the bottom a bit. Have patience or you will break your fresh cake.
  13. Carefully tip the pan upside down and pop the cake out onto your counter. Voila!!
  14. Mix your frosting. Frosting can be dabbled with but BE CAREFUL because if the frosting gets too thin and will run off the cake and not hold together too well. OR, if it is too thick it is harder to frost. I'd rather deal with a frosting that errs on the thick-side than runny-side!! I have years of experience with 'not-so-pretty-cakes!!'
  15. Decorate to your hearts content. I have used: chocolate chips, heath chips, mini-chocolate chips, ice-cream nut & chip toppings, matchbox cars,  squirt on ready-made frosting thingies, I have made mountains, made the topping black, made a cake in the shape of 49 (yes, I did that), made a pink cake, and who knows what else. Some of my cakes turned out and some were catastrophes. My life is real!!

Have you ever made a cake from scratch?? Tell me if the thought of cake making overwhelms you. I mean to encourage you to give it a try :-)

I'd LOVE you to leave a comment!!

Since I live out 'in-the-sticks'... friends, like you are a long ways away!!
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  1. I had to laugh at your "don't make healthy cake" part. As healthy as we try to eat, this is true! When Nehemiah (my oldest) turned 1, I made him his own little cake and a bigger one for the rest of us to share. He isn't a picky eater, and loved his cake. The rest of us...well...I think that is the only cake I made where almost the entire cake got thrown out. I have since found that I can usually get away with using fresh ground white wheat flour as long as I don't use honey or anything in it. We use organic cane sugar which works same as regular sugar.

    Cake making is something I have almost always done from scratch. I grew up with a mom who never bought mixes, so I had plenty of opportunities to learn how to make a cake. :)

    1. What a blessing to have grown up learning how to bake from scratch. My daughters have more confidence than I do, although I got them started when they were little. I used to use sucanat (sugar) but have to drive too far to buy it now. You must grind your wheat?? I do.

  2. I love chocolate cake. My mom and I used to bake when I was younger. She said my expertise is the banana cake which my grandma really loves. I love brownies, too!

    The photo is very inviting. Thank you for sharing your recipe and tips.

    1. Yum, I would love to try some of your banana cake!! Thanks Lea for your sweet comment about my picture. I wished I had put it on a nicer plate. Hindsight is always better :-)

  3. Your cake looks delicious! I love cakes, but I don't bake them very often and your helpful tips have encouraged me to start baking them more frequently :) I found you on Making Your Home Sing Monday linky party and I am now following you. I look forward to your future posts!


  4. This may be my favorite post ever. I love your sense of humor. And I am going to save the recipe. (I rarely make cakes, as Lee prefers other kinds of baked goods, but sometimes nothing but a cake will do.)


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