Birthdays make me bubbly. I’m told I’ll enjoy them less as the candles multiply, but I refuse to believe it, even if my cake triggers the fire alarm. What is not to fancy about a day when 1) The people you love celebrate purely because you were born and 2) Cake is practically mandatory?
Guess who’s turning 20-something…
This week, I celebrated a very special birthday: Ben’s! Of everyone I know, Ben makes the least fuss over his own birthday, so naturally I kicked up the fanfare to compensate. We spent the weekend in the adorable town of Lake Geneva in southern Wisconsin. Highlights included visiting nearby vineyards (yes, Wisconsin has vineyards), walking along the lakeshore, and watching Notre Dame football beat Michigan State at the local bar.
Sunset on Lake Geneva.
While an Irish victory was the one thing Ben truly wanted for his birthday, I never miss an opportunity for dessert, especially when it’s birthday cake! Ben’s favorite is the classic YELLOW CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE FROSTING, so I set out to prepare the most moist, buttery, ultimate-birthday-bliss rendition possible. Oh, and I lightened it up.
Now, I know what you are thinking:
Yellow cake with chocolate frosting? That is so boring.
You lightened up a birthday cake? No one wants a healthy cake on his birthday!
Excellent points. To those who think yellow cake with chocolate frosting is boring, you should reconsider. Yellow cake + chocolate frosting only seems boring because it is the gold standard of all birthday cake. Yes, Ben could have chosen a more “interesting” flavor, but when you want the traditional birthday experience, yellow cake + chocolate frosting is the one. Plus, what is so uninteresting about buttery, moist layers smeared with fluffy fudge?
So yummy, I may starting baking for half birthdays too.
Point 2: To those who think it is inhumane to create a healthy-tasting birthday cake, I agree with you. Birthday treats should be just that—a treat. My YELLOW CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE FROSTING meets the ultimate light dessert criterion: it doesn’t taste light.
Swapping reduced-fat sour cream for some of the butter called for in the original recipe, then supplementing the flavor with butter extract resulted in a cake that was just as rich and yummy as the classic, for a fraction of the calories. It tasted phenomenal with Light Fluffy Frosting, but feel free to sub your favorite chocolate frosting or my Lighter Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.
Combine butter and sour cream in a large mixing bowl and whisk until well blended. Add granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and butter extract. Beat at medium speed for 3 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each. Continue to mix batter for 2 minutes or until well blended.
In a separate bowl, sift together 2 cups flour, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to butter-sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat after each addition. (The sifting and alternating may seem fussy, but it will guarantee the lightest possible cake).
Prepare baking pans: coat bottom of two round 9-in. baking pans with cooking spray; line bottoms with wax or parchment paper (trace around the bottom of your pan to cut out the correct paper size/shape). Coat wax paper with cooking spray. Place 1 T. flour in pan. Tap and rotate the pan to coat all interior surfaces, then tap out any extra flour into the sink or trash.
Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Carefully peel off wax paper and follow How to Create the Most Moist Cake You’ve Ever Bakedor set aside to cool completely.