Though I love to bake – can you tell? – and love me some cake, I have to let you in on a little secret. I’ve generally been kind of disappointed with the cake recipes I’ve made since making the significant leap from always using boxed cake mixes.
They’ve been too dry or crumbly, or not as buttery as I’d hoped, or way too dense.
So, when it came time to make my little one a cake for her second birthday, I was a little bit unsure where to start. I just don’t feel like I have a go-to cake recipe. It’s like the little black dress of baking, and here I was, bereft.
With a personal weekly blogroll of about thirty different sites, I am never at a loss for a recipe. I decided to go out on a limb and try a recipe I’d never tried before for this special birthday celebration, based solely on the fact that I felt pretty confident of its’ source: Movita Beaucoup is a local blogger/ballerina/recent pastry school graduate (I know, cool eh?) and I knew she’d created a recipe a while back for a six inch cake with the perfect amount of icing to frost it. Seeing as that’s what I wanted to make (we were only 5 and a half celebrants), I grabbed my flour and sugar and got to work. I made Movita’s recipe chocolate, and dairy-free.
Here’s the recipe for the cake. If you’re going dairy-free, replace the butter with some dairy-free butter alternative (I used Earth Balance), and the milk with almond milk or soy milk. To make it chocolate, I left out two tablespoons of the cake flour and added 6 tablespoons of cocoa powder. Yum!
You can find the recipe for the perfect amount of buttercream for a six inch cake here. Again, for a dairy free version I used Earth Balance instead of butter, almond milk instead of regular milk, and left out the cream cheese (sadly, because I’m sure it would be awesome. If you know of any great dairy-free cream cheese substitutes, I’m all ears!).
As for getting those sprinkles on the cake, Pinterest and the internet is rife with tutorials on making sprinkle cakes. I used this one. But I have to admit that because the cake was small and I probably put too much icing between the layers and I didn’t really plan on making a sprinkle cake so I didn’t quite have enough sprinkles, the whole affair ended up being this somewhat awkward dance between myself and my mother-in-law (which thankfully affirmed my love for her) with a small toddler clinging to our legs that involved significant icing smearage and sprinkles that I am STILL finding in the grout of our kitchen tiles. It was nearly – just nearly – one of these.
But it all worked out in the end, and as I slid the side of my fork into the pointed end of my wedge of cake, I knew I had my go-to, staple, standard, never-fail chocolate cake recipe. Moist, with an airy crumb but just enough density to be decadent, I was just a little sad that there weren’t more leftovers. (well, there was one nice big slice leftover, and seeing as it was my birthday the next day, I heaped it onto my plate without asking anyone else if they wanted some, and ate it with a cup of tea the following afternoon).