So Mister Man is officially 9. While we haven’t had his birthday party yet – and to be honest, I haven’t planned it so shhh – we did celebrate as a family the day he turned 9 on 10/11/12 (seriously, how cool is that?). And celebrations mean one thing: he gets to choose his dinner and the kind of cake I make for him.
Once again, he chose French toast, so once again I didn’t actually eat the birthday dinner I made. I know… I make an awesome French toast, but I don’t like it. Go fig. I just discovered that I haven’t put up my recipe for this, so apparently that happens the next time I make it. Because you want that recipe.
Mister Man also asked for a cherry cake with triple berry frosting. It was good. Really good.
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 3/4 c sugar, separated
4 eggs, separated
2 3/4 c flour
2 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1 c milk
1 t vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract, same quantity)
1/2 t almond extract
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/4 t cream of tartar
Beat the butter until it’s creamy. Slowly pour in 1 1/2 cups sugar while it’s mixing (save the extra 1/4 cup for later), and beat on high until it’s lightened in color and nice and fluffy, somewhere around three to five minutes of beating. Separate your eggs while the butter and sugar are mixing. Slowly add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
Add the baking powder and salt, and mix well. Add 1 cup of flour and stir until mostly combined. Add the vanilla, almond extract, and 1/2 of the milk and stir until combined. Add 1 more cup flour, stir. Add the rest of the milk and stir. Add the last of the flour and stir one last time. Next, add the cherries, and carefully stir until just combined.
Why stir so little? You don’t want the flour to form gluten strands, which happens when you overmix it. That’s why you get bubbles in your muffins and cakes, which is not the look we’re going for. It also makes them tough, and we want a nice, light cake.
Next up is the egg whites you’ve been saving. When they start, they’ll look like this:
Add the cream of tartar, and start beating the egg whites. Once they’ve gotten nice and frothy, go ahead and slowly add the last 1/4 cup sugar you were reserving while still beating the eggs. Continue to beat them until they form soft peaks. If you overbeat, they’ll dry out and get nasty – again, not what we’re going for.
Add about 1/4 of the beaten egg whites to your cake batter, and stir gently to combine. You need to sacrifice some of the lovely fluff so the batter loosens enough to accept the rest of the egg whites. This helps make the cake stay light and fluffy. Once you have the first bit incorporated, pour the rest of the egg whites into the batter and gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Scrape with a spatula under all the batter and twist to lift.
Grease 2 9×2 pans well (or 3 8×2). Pour the batter evenly into the pans, and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the cake tester comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes before inverting them to remove from the pans and cool the rest of the way. Once they’re fully cooled, frost as desired.
So. We did a fudge filling (because my dad wanted chocolate in there) and a triple berry frosting. While this looks like I used some sort of dye, I didn’t. And the crumbs? Because of the cherry bits in the cake, the knife sticks some while cutting and pulls them loose. This is actually a cake that doesn’t have a lot of crumbs because it is so moist and yummy.
I don’t measure anything when making frostings or fillings, so play with them. They’re very forgiving.
So the fudge filling: I used about 3 T butter, 1/2 c cocoa powder, 3 T milk and 2 c powdered sugar. Oh, and a teaspoon or so of vanilla. Maybe. Basically, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the milk and cocoa powder and stir. Start adding powdered sugar. Add a little more milk if it’s too thick. Add powdered sugar until it’s as thick as hot fudge sauce (not chocolate syrup). Keep stirring over the heat until the fudge starts falling off the spoon cleanly. Stir until it’s cooled down to almost room temperature and has thickened nicely. The constant stirring helps incorporate air and keeps it soft and yummy. Spread it on the cake.
And the triple berry frosting? I used maybe half a cup of frozen berries, 2 T butter, and powdered sugar, maybe 3-4 cups. Again, heat the berries and butter in a heavy saucepan until they’re melted, then start adding the powdered sugar. After awhile, I used my immersion blender to puree the berries in the frosting, then added more powdered sugar and cooked for another five minutes or so. I stirred while letting it cool some, then spread it over the cake.