I’ve had a perfectly lovely day, thank you. Lunch with my girlfriends, a spot of shopping and lots and lots of sun. Plus, birthday kisses from my son, the best-ever birthday present from Sid, and tons of emails and phone calls and Facebook wishes from all of you!
What more could a birthday girl ask for?
What’s that? Did I hear you say, “Cake?”
Perfectly right you are - Cause every Birthday Gal deserves Birthday Cake.
The problem is, of course, is that if I’ve got to have Birthday Cake, I’ve got to make it myself!
Is that bad? Like throwing one's own party? Well – I can’t really help it, can I? Because Sid can’t bake. But that’s alright, cause he’s a dude and he has other strengths and one really can’t be good at everything. Unless you’re George Clooney. Swoon. Die. (And then eat Hummus and come to life again.)
Yeah, so Sid can’t bake. But I have been hard at work teaching Ranbir. Since I’d really like him to be good at everything. And given that he can’t walk and can’t really talk, he’s totally helping my cause. And on the baking front – I must admit, we haven’t been very successful either. See, we cruise along just fine until we get to the bit where I ask him to measure out the bicarbonate of soda. Then he just stares at me as if he doesn’t understand what bicarbonate of soda is.
It confounds me.
Anyhow, I’m confident that by my next birthday he’ll be whipping ‘em out like a miniature male Nigella Lawson. He’ll be two and half then. Or am I being over-ambitious? What do you think?
So: yes, getting back to the task at hand – it appears then, by my very logical process of elimination, that it’s all down to me, folks. So, shall we give it a go?
Now, first things first. I don’t know about you, but Birthday Cake to me, is always, always, always Chocolate. It’s just the way it is. Nothing else will do.
In fact, quite sadly, the only Birthday Cake I remember from my childhood is the one where it wasn’t chocolate. It was one of those fancy figure cakes - Snow White, I think. Or was it the one with the glass slippers? Cinderalla? I rather think it was. Because I distinctly remember there being a large Pumpkin in the background. And wasn’t that what the handsome prince turned into? Or was it the frog that turned into the prince?? (I’m not going to tell you how old I am today, but I’m clearly too old for Fairy Tales. Which is sad. And rather Grim(m).
Anyhow, whatever my cake was that year – I can tell you with absolute and positive certainty that it was Pineapple. And I remember this because I’d have happily exchanged all the Cinderella’s’ (or was in Sleeping Beauties?) in the world for some good old Chocolate Cake. I feel terrible about admitting this of course, because having just become a parent, I can appreciate how hard parents work on thinking up new party ideas and themes and characters and cakes and flavours every single year for like 13 straight years. And it sounds terribly ungrateful of me to complain.
I never said it then, because I didn’t want to hurt my parents’ feelings.
Now of course, I don’t give a damn about their feelings.
Kidding. Only kidding. Thankfully they compete with each other on which one of the two is most technologically challenged, so I’m fairly confidently that my secret lies safe in the vast but unattainable realms of cyberspace.
So yes, I believe – deep within my aging heart – that Birthday Cake’s gotto be chocolate. It just does. That’s all.
Now before we begin, I have to caution you to follow this one at your own risk because I will publicly admit that I’m absolutely rubbish at baking. Food is a different story. With food, you throw in a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and if you’re (somewhat) creative and (largely) lucky, you end up with something that can be quite satisfying, But baking? Baking means figuring out if 1/3 is greater than 2/6. And baking requires a level of patience and precision that I fundamentally lack. I just don’t think I was born with either. Which is why, with this cake that I’m just about to make, I’m whizzing everything in a food processor. Because I can’t bear to measure out and mix a hundred different things separately in a hundred different bowls. And then wash them all. Especially on my birthday. It’s insufferable. So, for all the lazy cooks out there – here’s a super short-cut route to some pretty darn tasty Birthday Cake.
Here’s what you need:
For the cake:
For the cake:
- 250g bitter-sweet chocolate - I use the Chocolate Society's Cooking Chocolate, 70% cocoa-filled little ovals of heaven!
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup of sour cream
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the Ganache:
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 180g bitter-sweet chocolate
And, here’s how you do it:
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line and butter your baking tin. Add all the cake ingredients - flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb (this is where Ranbir stares at me like a deer in the headlights), cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream - into a food processor and process until you have a thick, smooth, creamy batter. Pour the batter into the prepare tin and bake about 25-30 minutes - check by using a fork to see if it comes out clean.
Make the ganache: Finely chop the chocolate. In a saucepan bring cream to a boil over moderately low heat. Remove pan from heat and add in the chopped chocolate, whisking until chocolate is completely melted. Let cool slightly, then pour it over cake until it is completely covered.
Sorry, but now I'm going to need to excuse myself so that I can admire what we've just created.
Sigh. It’s beeeeaaaautiful.
Sigh. It’s beeeeaaaautiful.
Chocolatey and rich and luscious and moist and melting...just the way Birthday Cake should be.
So, come, celebrate with me. Go on – count the calories another time.
Because, it’s my birthday. But mostly: Because, you’re worth it!