Smitten with Eric’s Birthday Cake
Some of our friends gave me The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas this year. Created by food blogger and photographer and recipe wizard extraordinaire, Deb Perelman (of Smitten Kitchen fame), this cookbook has skyrocketed to the very top of my list of favorite cookbooks. In fact, I think I’ve made an average of two to three of her recipes each week since Christmas. It doesn’t look like I’ll be slowing down any time soon either
As a testament to just how much I love this cookbook, I decided to use Perelman’s golden sheet cake and berry buttercream frosting recipes for Eric’s birthday cake this year. Considering that Eric’s birthday was January 19, there really wasn’t much time to test the cake recipe between Christmas and his birthday party.
This is how much I trust Perelman’s recipes: I was willing to risk an untested cake recipe for my last baby’s first birthday party.
And you know what? I wasn’t disappointed. Not at all (unless you count the disappointment I feel over knowing that it wouldn’t be wise for me to eat this cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day). In fact, I was downright delighted with the cake. Maybe even a bit in love it.
I’m not going to transcribe Perelman’s recipe word-for-word because a) you should go and purchase the cookbook yourself so that you can enjoy how fun and delightful her recipe-writing is, and b) that would be copyright infringement., which would be bad.
I will, however, give you a basic run-down of these recipes, just in case you want to give them a little test of your own.
My guess is that you will be just as un-disappointed and delighted and in love with them as I was. And as my whole family was. And as our beloved guest of honor, Eric, was.
For the golden sheet cake, you’ll need:
12 tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature (YEP, that’s 1 1/2 sticks of butter!)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. table salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, well shaken
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13 inch cake pan with cooking spray. (Perelman suggests to butter the pan and line it with parchment paper, but the cooking spray worked well enough for me.)
2. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl (I used a stand mixer), beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until the mixture it is pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the sides of the pan after each egg is added. Beat in the buttermilk at low speed until just combined. Add the flour mixture in three batches, beating together until each new addition is just incorporated.
3. Spread the batter evenly in the cake pan. Bake 30-40 minutes until it is golden and a wooden toothpick comes out clean when inserted into it. (Mine was done right at the 30 minute mark.) You can cool the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack and then invert it onto a serving platter, but I just left it right in the pan. Fewer dishes to clean = a win for me (and, honestly, a win for Tim since he is the family dish-washer). Side note: make sure you cool the cake completely before frosting it. This is something that took me many years of boneheadedness to learn.
For the berry buttercream frosting I made, you’ll need:
1 cup fresh blackberries (you can also use raspberries or blueberries)
16 tbsp. butter, at room temperature (YES, this does mean two sticks of butter!)
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
The willpower not to eat the entire bowl of frosting
1. Purée the berries in a food processor or blender until they are smooth. (Side note: many of Perelman’s recipes are making me fall in love with my food processor.) Strain the purée through a fine mesh strainer until you have about 1/3-1/2 cups of berry purée. Set aside.
2. Beat the butter until it is light and fluffy. (Again, I used my stand mixer.) Beat in the sugar, 1 cup at a time. (How does one keep the sugar from dousing your immediate surroundings as soon as you turn on your mixer? This is one of the life mysteries that I have yet to solve.) Beat in 1/4 cup of the purée until the color is fully incorporated.
Perelman has lots of great suggestions on how to achieve the color you want with the berries, but you’ll have to buy her cookbook to get those pointers from her.
Again, I cannot overstate how much I loved this cake recipe. It was delicious, it was made entirely from scratch, and I didn’t need to resort to food dyes to color the frosting.
What’s more, it was a cake that Eric loved with all of his heart. Just see so for yourself.