It’s my party (and I’ll make a cake if I want to)

So I’m 22. Holy. I remember when the big 2-2 was just another number in my 11x table. A lot has changed since elementary school multiplication drills.

Toddler Hilary, circa 1993. Snake-shaped chocolate cake decorated with Smarties.

To celebrate that I’m one year closer to death, a year older and therefore 366 days more awesome, I decided to bake myself a cake. A four-tiered, rainbow cake with chocolate whipping cream frosting, that is.

To be fair, it wasn’t all for me. My friend Christine‘s birthday is a day before mine. This year we decided to have joint birthday festivities at her house. It’s practically a tradition that I bring a kick ass cake to her place. You may remember this little gem from last year’s Fourth of July in March party.

"Let's cut the cake like it's our wedding!"

Anyways, we were turning 22. And 22 means adult. And adult means CAKE KINGDOM. Right?

Right. I’m a year older and more wise, remember? This means I’m never wrong.

The layers were made using Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake recipe. It’s my all-time favourite and creates a light and fluffy base with just a hint of lemon flavouring.

Note when making a four-tiered cake: buy a real cake pan. 

Please listen to me, it will make your life so much easier. If you have an oven that bakes things evenly, buy four pans and bake all the layers at once. All the power to you! Just don’t use a springform pan and bake each layer one at a time. Otherwise, four hours later you will find yourself transformed into a kitchen zombie waiting for that final blue layer to be complete. Le sigh.

Since I didn’t want to spend $20 to make a luscious buttercream icing for this cake (because, lets face it, when you have FOUR layers, that’s a lot of butter), I opted for a light, chocolate whipped cream frosting. There is half a litre of whipped cream on this cake.

Whipping cream turned out to be the perfect choice. It meant the finished product wasn’t unbearably sweet and was far easier to spread than traditional buttercream icing. Which is ideal for someone who is god awful at icing cakes. There is a layer of whipping cream in between every layer, as well as a thin spreading of four-berry jam. Got to amp up the fruit (sugar) content, you know.

(L) Jam layer, (R) One of these things is not like the other

The finished cake was possibly the girliest thing I’ve ever made, and looked like a cross between a dessert worthy of Barbie’s wedding and an Easter egg hunt. It also would have been appropriate for a five-year-old’s birthday party. What can I say? I’m getting older age-wise, but my baking is regressing in maturity appeal alongside.

And to that I say: Happy fifth birthday, Hilary!

PS: A few of my friends made me a surprise birthday dinner! How sweet are they? Here we are… thanks to Freya for taking the picture!

Hilary, Shannon and Tara

Recipe: Four-tiered rainbow cake
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake recipe
– 3 1/3 cup cake flour
– 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
– 3/4 tsp salt
– 1 3/4 cup buttermilk
– 6 large egg whites
–  2 1/4 cups sugar
– 3 tsp grated lemon zest
– 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (12 tbsp), room temperature
– 3/4 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.  Butter and flour the sides to prevent sticking later. Note: you an also use normal cake pans, but I just love using my spring form pan for everything.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest and rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers until well incorporated. The mixture will become moist and very fragrant.

Add the butter to the sugar/zest mixture and beat on medium speed until well combined. Add the lemon juice and 1/3 of the flour mixture; add 1/2 of the milk/egg white mixture and continue to beat at medium speed, then add half of the remaining flour mixture, then the rest of the milk/eggs and finish with the remaining flour. Once all ingredients are combined, beat the batter for a good 2 minutes to ensure it is thoroughly mixed and well areated.

Divide the batter into four medium-sized bowls.  Add in a small amount (less than 1/4 tsp) of gel food colouring to each of the bowls.  Mix well to combine colour.

Pour into prepared pans and bake each layer until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes enough for four 9-inch cake layers.

Recipe: Chocolate whipped cream frosting
From Joy the Baker
– 2 cups heavy (at least 35%) whipping cream
– 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
– 6 tbsp white sugar
–  4 tbsp cocoa powder

In a large mixing bowl place all the ingredients and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl and wire whisk in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Then beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.

Spread a thin layer of your favourite jam on top of each cake layer and top that with a generous spreading of whipping cream. Repeat with all the cake layers (don’t put jam on the top of the cake). Ice the cake top and sides. Decorate!

Makes a nine-inch cake. Good for one birthday party.

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9 thoughts on “It’s my party (and I’ll make a cake if I want to)

  1. Yummy! Happy Birthday Hilary – you are as young as you feel in your heart. Coincidentally, I made a rainbow cake similar to this last year for my son’s 2nd birthday. The kids loved it!

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