Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bert's Chocolate Cake: Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday. All good birthdays involve chocolate cake. Using the transitive property, if A=B and B=C, then A=C, today involves chocolate cake. Now don't laugh. Don't call me pathetic. Yes, I baked my own birthday cake. But before you judge me, hear me out. Three reasons why it makes perfect sense that I made my own:

1. I love baking and this was an enjoyable project.
2. It is a tradition in my family to have this specific chocolate cake recipe, and with my mom (the one who normally makes it for us kids) living 400 miles away, I can't expect her to show up at my doorstep with the cake.
3. This is the chocolate cake recipe to outdo all other chocolate cake recipes. Why settle for a bakery's cake when I can have my grandma Bert's?

This is a very special recipe. It's the cake made at every single birthday in my family. I make it for my sister now that we live in Los Angeles. Growing up, four of the five of us in my immediate family had birthdays in January. That meant my mom would make 4 of these cakes in January. I am not kidding. And we never tired of it. Well, maybe temporarily by January 31st.

So here goes, the best chocolate cake on the planet. And happy birthday to me!

~Bert's Chocolate Cake~

1 (4-oz.) German chocolate bar (Baker's)
1/2 c. hot water
1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 c. cake flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend chocolate into water and set aside to cool. Cream together the butter with the brown and white sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time. Now add chocolate carefully so it doesn't splatter. Mix the flour, soda, and salt together. Add these dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the vanilla. Pour into two well-greased and floured 9-inch round pans or a 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. To remove from the pans, put hot pans on cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then remove from pans and put onto rack to cool right-side up.

~Elegant Chocolate Frosting~

1 1/4 c. sugar
1 c. evaporated milk or heavy cream (I prefer cream)
5 (1-oz.) squares Baker's unsweetened chocolate
1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar and milk in large heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; simmer 6 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir to blend. Stir in butter and vanilla. Chill until mixture begins to thicken (or if you're short on time, place the bowl over an ice bath). Beat until thick and creamy. Makes enough to fill and frost an 8- or 9-inch layer cake.


Jays said...

Happy birthday (one day late)! The cake looks like a scrumptious gift. And, if it makes you feel better, I almost always bake my own birthday cake. It's the best way to get exactly what you want. :)

Anonymous said...

The three of us in Northern California just finished enjoying the one I made. I am so happy that you carry on the tradition. Most families wouldn't want to divulge such a family recipe. But I agree with you, we'd have a lot more happy people in the world if they had this cake on their birthday!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Marni!

The frosting looks like a food stylist did it - you need to talk to some publishers

Enjoy your day

Tiffany K. said...

I'm making this cake this weekend for my brother-in-law's birthday. I called to see if he wanted cake or pie and he said chocolate cake. Then I asked what icing and he said "Go big or go home! Let's do chocolate". So, I immediately thought of this recipe...woohoo!! I'm hoping to impress my mother-in-law, too!! ;) I'll let you know how we like it. Thanks, Marni!

Marni said...

Tiffany, I'm so honored that you would make my grandmother's chocolate cake for your family! I hope it lives up to your expectations! Thank you for sharing with me, and do let me know how it turns out...perhaps by way of a quote from your in-laws? :)

Tiffany K. said...

SUCCESS!! Adjectives used in between bites: Wonderful, Fabulous, Out of this World, Delicious, etc. I was very happy with the gushing I received about the cake, and I enjoyed making it. I think I may have beat it a little too much, becuase it was a little flat and dense, but still soooo tasty. And the frosting is amazing! I compared it to being frosted with a Hershey bar.
I bought writing icing at the store to put "Happy Birthday" on it, but after tasting the chocolate frosting I didn't dare ruin it with that slop. So I just put the left over frosting in a bag and used it to do the writing!!

I also took a piece 285 miles to my dad who loves loves loves Chocolate on Chocolate, and he was equally impressed. (I had to make a trip to my parents') Thanks again for sharing!! I may make it again when my parents come to visit for Easter since my mom doesn't eat chocolate during Lent. She has to try it!

Marni said...

Tiffany! Wow, what a rave review! I'm so happy it turned out well! And thanks for reporting back. I loved the update. A traveling cake, eh?

"I didn't dare ruin it with that slop." LOL!!!!!!! Priceless!

Tiffany K. said...

:( The frosting didn't turn out this time!! Waaaaaaa!!! The cake was great, but the frosting was grainy and too creamy or something...not fudgy like last time. Do you think I chilled it too long? I made it twice, and the same thing happened both times. At least it turned out right when I was feeding it to my In-Laws ;)

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