Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Classic White Birthday Cake & Mocha Frosting - dairy free & vegan

 As you may know, my birthday was Friday. (hey. take the survey.) Friday itself wasn't super exciting (though I did have a lovely dinner out) since I spent the day looking at apartments. I visited six(!) as part of my vetting process. My reward was watching tv and opening presents (with help). Now that was good times. My big birthday present and surprise was a visit from two of my favorite people, coordinated by Mr Official Taster. E and W flew down from Seattle to spend the weekend with me! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he definitely deserves a round of applause for that one.  awesomesauce.

We had a great time. (and Birthday Champagne doesn't hurt) Predictably, food occupied a lot of our time and energy, but we four also went to check out the best of the apartments I looked at on Friday. Everyone ok'ed it, and Mr OT and I decided it was to be our new home. Phew. I am so glad the search is over and that we have a permanent place. 

The new kitchen is insanely tiny - definitely the smallest I've ever had - but that seems to be consistent in this area. Apparently apartment builders have learned that renters prefer their square footage in their bedrooms, living rooms, and even bathrooms. Or do they just assume that people don't really cook? I know that we're told that people cook less than they used to, and I'm sure that's true, but it would be pretty sad if some people never cooked. For my new kitchen, creative organization will be required.

Anyway, back to birthdays. This so-called furnished kitchen is less than actually really furnished, so I aimed for a simple recipe with as few ingredients, pans, and messy steps as possible. 1-2-3-4 Cake is an old classic, and the name comes from the ingredients: 1 cup milk, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 4 eggs. The finished product, however, was decadent, and the one I made this weekend was not for the faint of heart. 3 layers of cake, raspberry jam, and mocha buttercream. It was a happy birthday indeed.

Classic 1-2-3-4 Cake - dairy free
makes 3 9-inch layers. I halved the recipe and made 3 6-inch layers. You can also make cupcakes (24?)
1 C (2 sticks) vegan butter, at room temperature
2 C sugar
4 eggs
3 C sifted self-rising flour*
1 C non-dairy milk of choice (I used almond)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven 350°F. Grease your pans, place a round of parchment paper in the bottom of each, and grease the paper.

With an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy in a large bowl. Add sugar and continue to beat for another 5-7 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each one. Alternately add the flour and milk to the creamed mixture beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and mix in until just combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Level batter with a spatula or by dropping the pans onto the counter from a height of 2-3 inches a few times. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick or tester inserted into the center comes out clean. If you're making cupcakes, start testing at 15 minutes. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan before turning out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

* Self-rising flour has both salt and baking powder in it, but you can make your own at home with the following formula: 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour, minus 2 teaspoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Mocha Frosting - Vegan
I made one full batch for my 6-inch cake and had some left over, but I think if I had used frosting between the layers instead of raspberry jam, the amount would have been perfect.

1 stick vegan butter at room temperature
3 C confectioners sugar
1/3 C cocoa
1/4 C strongly brewed coffee or espresso at room temperature (ish. NOT an exact measurement)

Cream the butter and then add the sugar and cocoa a little bit at a time. Add the coffee slowly, until you've reached the desired consistency. It should take 10 minutes or so to combine everything and beat it enough to give it some volume.

Assemble the Layers!
Stack the layers in whatever order you'd like, and frost just like you would any other cake. I used raspberry jam between each layer, rather than frosting, and it was decadent and delicious. I highly recommend it! This and this are good tutorials if you need instructions or a refresher.

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