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Birthday Cake

This is an advanced recipe for kids to prepare. It is well worth the effort to create a delicious home-baked cake for a birthday celebration!

Ingredients:

For the vanilla cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room
      temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups milk

For the chocolate frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room
      temperature
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room
      temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Candies and sprinkles for decorating

Directions:

Before you start
Be sure an adult is nearby to help.

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease 2 round cake pans with butter.

Make 2 circles on a piece of parchment paper by tracing the bottom of the cake pan. Cut out the circles and press 1 circle into the bottom of each pan. Grease the paper with more butter.

Sprinkle some flour in each pan, and shake and tilt the pans to coat the bottom and sides evenly. Turn the pans upside down and tap out the extra flour.

Mix the dry ingredients
To make the cake, put the flour, baking powder and salt into a sifter and sift into a bowl.

Make the batter
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and vanilla on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one is added.

Turn off the mixer, add about one-third of the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Pour in 2/3 cup of the milk and beat just until blended. Repeat, adding about one-third of the flour, the remaining 2/3 cup milk and then the rest of the flour, beating after each addition just until blended.

Fill the pans
Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with the rubber spatula. Pour half of the batter into one prepared pan and the other half into the second pan. Using the rubber spatula, spread the batter evenly and smooth the top.

Bake and cool the cake
Put the pans in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the pans from the oven and set them on wire cooling racks to cool for 20 minutes.

Turn each pan upside down onto the rack and lift off the pan. Peel off the parchment and let the cakes cool completely.

Melt the chocolate
To make the frosting, melt the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water in a saucepan, stirring often with a wooden spoon until smooth, about 4 minutes. Turn off the heat. Using oven mitts, remove the bowl and set aside to let the chocolate cool slightly.

Combine the frosting ingredients
In a bowl, using the electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-low speed until the mixture is smooth and no lumps remain. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with the rubber spatula. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and salt, and beat on low speed until smooth and fluffy.

Add the chocolate and cream and beat on low until well blended. Frost and decorate the cake as desired (see tip at right). Serves 12.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kids Baking, by Abigail Johnson Dodge (Oxmoor House, 2003).