Chocolate Birthday Cake


What do you want for Christmas?
It's not a question that I particularly savour.  I don't need much and I certainly don't want to spend time thinking about it.  However, I have kids and family members who aren't quite ready to let go of the whole 'gift thing'.  As a result, I'm obliged to think about what I do want for Christmas.  So here's the start of my Christmas list.
1.  A lego finder/extractor/exterminator.  'Nuff said.
2.  A day with my BFF just us, no restrictions.
3.  A day with my other BFF just us, no restrictions.
4.  Weather that allows me to bike all year but does not indicate the onset of global climate meltdown.
5.  The ability to see through B.S. quickly, easily and without holding a grudge.
6.  The recipes that I asked for last year but didn't get.
7.  Champagne
8.  Non Cable TV that's even remotely worth watching.
9.  A new cookbook that incorporates everything I love about cooking - seasonal vegetables (heavy emphasis on the winter ones that get ignored most of the time), honey, whole wheat, humanely raised animals, locally made cheese, wine and chocolate.
Hmmm - it seems that once I got started things flowed a lot more easily than I expected.  I don't expect to get any of the things on the list with the exception of #7 and the remote possibility of #'s 2 and 3.  And that's all fine with me.


December isn't all about Christmas and concerts and gigs and running to rehearsals and moping around about the baking that hasn't happened yet and making a list of presents to buy that probably won't ever get done.  December is also about birthdays in our house.  The celebrations begin on the 2nd and don't end until the 31st.  That's right.  December 31st.  Most people I meet with a birthday in December (and I've met many many many) are resentful about it.  It's busy and birthday inevitably get overshadowed by those dang holidays.
Defying the odds, we managed to get a slice of cake down D's gullet in between gigs and we were only missing one of the fam.  This cake has made up for absolutely everything.  Everything that makes having a birthday in December frustrating.  I took a chance.  I tried a new recipe that I'd had my eye on for a while.  I adapted and swapped and added.  And it worked.  It worked beautifully, exceptionally, thrillingly.  There is absolutely nothing Christmassy about this cake and I promise that you won't care one single bit.


Chocolate Birthday Cake adapted from Marcus Samuelsson and Alexandra's Kitchen

Cake:
1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 lg eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
3 egg whites (optional, but it worked out nicely)
3/4 cup boiling water

Icing:

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
3 - 4 tbsp cream
1 - 1 1/2 tbsp espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350°F
Butter and flour 2 round baking pans and set aside.
Combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, espresso powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda together.  Mix well and set aside.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside.
Combine the eggs, buttermilk and canola oil.  Whip together until the eggs are completely mixed in.  The mixture should feel just a little thick.
Mix the egg mixture into the flour mixture by hand or using a mixer until the liquid is incorporated.  Add the boiling water and continue to mix well until the water is evenly mixed in.
Gently fold in the egg whites until they have completely mixed into the batter.
Pour the batter evenly between the two baking pans.  Drop the baking pans onto the counter once or twice to let some of the air bubbles escape.
Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with crumbs and not liquid.
Cool for about 10 minutes in the pans and then remove to a cooling rack.
Cool completely before icing.
Icing:
Mix together the icing sugar and butter until it begins to get cream slowly add the cream by a tbsp at a time.  Save 1 tbsp of cream and mix it with the espresso powder. Add the espresso cream just before the icing reaches the consistency that you are looking for - spreadable but not runny.  Add the espresso cream and mix until incorporated.  Spread over the first layer of cake on the top and sides.  Add the second layer and finish icing the top and sides.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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