What is a lucky girl. My daughter celebrated her 27 birthday last month surrounding by loving, caring and supportive people with multiple cakes from her company and organizations that she has been a volunteer for over a decade.
I was planning to bake a cake so she could decorate herself. Anyone remember the amazing totally Eugenian cake design in this blog at this time last year. However, she was too busy with work, and school and preparing the Lotus dance for Vietnamese Student Association at UO’s “Vietnam Once Upon a Time” show and I was busy too with work and being Mama paparazzi too. But the urge to make a homemade birthday cake?
This cake is an America cake, born at the Parker House Hotel in Boston in the middle of the 19th century.The cake is required a little time to bake and melt the chocolate and you can finish it in a blink when the cake and pastry is cool. No decoration skill needed I promise and if you have a favorite cake box use it.
This recipe uses hot milk sponge cake filled with pastry cream and chocolate ganache.
Make a 9-inch cake, needs two 9-inchx2-inch round cake pan
- Preheat oven to 350 of with a rack in middle of oven. Grease and flour cake pans.
- Heat milk and butter over medium low heat until butter melts. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and cover to keep warm
- Separate eggs into yolks and whites. Beat egg yolk in medium high speed with an standing electric mixer fitted with beaters or a whip attachment for about two minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar until very thick and pale about 6-8 minutes (or 10-12 minutes with handheld mixer). Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides to make sure sugar and yolks are evenly mixed. When the beaters or whip is raised the yolks should fall and form a slowly dissolving ribbon into the mixture in the bowl. Beat in the vanilla. Set aside or transfer to another bowl if you do not have an extra mixing bowl. Wash and dry the bowl and beaters/whip spotlessly.
- Beat egg whites with salt on medium low speed until frothy about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and beat until soft peak form ( peaks that curl softly at their tips when the beater is raised). Gradually add sugar by tablespoon about 1 minutes total. Continue whipping the egg white until shiny and form stiff peaks but still able to curl slightly at the tips about 2-3 minutes.
- Use a large rubber spatula fold 1/3 of egg white to egg yolk mixture with a few broad stroke. Rotate the bowl a little bit with each fold. A few streak of white remain is ok. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Sift about 1/5-1/6 amount of flour on the top of eggs mixture and gently fold in until the flour is almost incooperated. Repeat until folding all flour.
- Check the milk mixture temperature, it should be around 95 oF. Rewarm briefly if needed. Pour the warm milk along the side of the bowl and continue folding until the flour is completely incooperated and no streak of butter. Pour the batter into prepared pan and bake until the golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached about 15-18 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes on wire rack. Then remove from the pans and let it cool completely with the top up on wire rack about 2 hours.
6 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 2 Tbs unsalted butter
¼ cup cornstarch or 2 Tbs cornstarch and 2 Tbs all purpose flour
- Whisk egg yolks, sugar, salt and cornstarch in a heatproof bowl until very thick and pale.
- Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Slow whisk hot milk into egg yolk mixture. Pour the egg-milk mixture back to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, use a spatula and stir constantly until the mixture start getting thick and lumpy at the bottom. Decrease the heat down to medium low or low and continue stirring constantly with a spatula all over the bottom and sides until thick and glossy. When bubble appears, cook briefly for 10 more seconds to cook out the flour taste. Then remove from heat.
- Pour, push and scrape the pastry cream through a sieve into a medium bowl, press a plastic layer directly on the top and refrigerate until chilled and set about 2 hours or overnight.
6 ounces bittersweet or semi chocolate, chopped fine ( semi chocolate chips is handy too)
1 Tbs light corn syrup
3/4 cup (6 oz wt) heavy whip cream
Bring whip cream to a simmer over medium high heat. Pour it over chocolate. Set aside for 1 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let it cool down to pourable consistency about 20 minutes or a little longer in the hot weather. It can sit longer a couple hours at room temperature to reach to spreading consistency for spreading. It can be made in advance, store in the fridge and warm it back when ready to use.
Assemble the cake:
The image idea from “Rose’s heavenly cakes”
14 oz rolled wafers needed to wrap around the cake for the birthday cake.
The orchard flower is from Chau’s bouquet for her birthday celebration on the stage from VAS’s courtesy but any fresh flower can be used.
I just let the chocolate cool longer until no dripping and spread it all over the cake-more on the top. The rolled wafer cookie are broken in different height and adhere to the cake by pastry cream and chocolate glaze but if you plan to take the cake to somewhere, a ribbon should be used to keep the wafers intact. Mix a little bit red color with a few table spoon of pastry cream to make the candle light or you might use rolled candy, etc. Put the red pastry in a bag and squeeze it out on the top of wafers. These disguised candles numbers and good for office if candles are not allowed because of fire hazard. My daughter told me her colleagues tried to count “the candles” to guess her age. The amount of pastry cream and chocolate ganache is generous per America’s Test Kitchen recipe and I think they can be reduced down to 2/3 if you desired.