It's no big secret that I'm immensely fond of baking. The prep that goes into it, I enjoy even more if that's possible. The frantic Googling for recipes, checking for ingredient availability and shopping for it! Dorkdom, I know.
The best part is when the person you bake for, really likes it. You know they do when they text something to the effect of "Screw you. I'm going to explode. I ate the whole damn thing."
I strongly recommend it.
It's OK if your cake falls flat or has a gaping split right in the middle. Just consider them as opportunities to flood the cake with even more ganache/frosting/whipping cream. It's even better when it's a molten mass of chocolate-y goodness. Butter-sugar-cocoa tastes bloody good in all its avatars.
This weekend, I realized that a very special little girl's birthday was coming up. She's presumably cut from the same cloth I've been cut from; her Facebook profile picture is that of a slice of truffle cake. She'd appreciate a good cake, I was sure of that.
And thus, Operation: The Best Cake, Ever was born.
I discovered making cakes out of things I like when I first made an ice-cream cake for a sleepover some seven years back. Two layers of dark chocolate cake, sandwiched with mint-chocolate chip ice cream bought in bulk from Baskin Robbins. I don't think I can ever beat that.
Then came Mocha, making milkshakes out of Ferrero Rochers and M and Ms, and a whole myriad of combinations and options opened up.
So, Maltesers, Kit Kats, Snickers, After Eights, Hide N Seek biscuits. If Those Are A Few Of Your Favourite Things, put them in your birthday cake. It may work out to be expensive (unless you're in the US-junk food costs very little there, and come in various shapes and sizes). So. Make it only for people who truly, really would appreciate the effort. This isn't the type of cake that can be smushed into anybody's face.
And you can try subbing locally available ingredients that won't cost a bomb; it'll taste yum, maybe just not as authentic.
A quick check on the birthday girl's FB page showed "Oreos" to be one of her interests.
Oreos can be made into anything. Hidden in between cookie dough, crushed into base for cheesecake, brownies, milk shake and yes, cake.
For the Cake:
2 cups sugar, powdered
1¾ cups all-purpose flour (maida)
¾ cup cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water or black coffee
For the filling:
200 g Cream Cheese, softened. *or use my substitute method
200 ml or 1 cup of fresh cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
12 Oreo cookies (can use Pure Magic Vanilla Cream or Britannia Treat-Os)
For the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup ICING sugar (or fine powdered sugar, sieved)
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla essence.
Recipe adapted from Hershey's and Brown-Eyed Baker.
For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. Grease and flour two round pans (9").
In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir until well combined.
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling water. The batter will be thin.
It's so easy to make, and almost always turns out perfect. I trusted my little sister with the beating, and went on to make the frosting.
Pour into two pans. Or bake one at a time, but cake batter doesn't keep well for longer than twenty minutes after the wet ingredients are whisked in; the centre tends to fall into a hollow.
Bake until a toothpick inserted at the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool for ten minutes. Flip it over on the serving plate.
For the Filling:
*Substitute for Cream Cheese:
Hang 400 ml of Nestle Dahi or thick, homemade yogurt on a muslin-cloth lined colander. Let it drain for 5-6 hours in the refrigerator. Use the block of yogurt cheese that has formed in lieu of cream cheese.
Use the left-over whey in chappati dough or drink it plain, for the protein.
1)Empty a tetrapak of Fresh Cream into a bowl. Put it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
I've always used Amul Fresh Cream or Nilgris' Fresh Cream; this time due to unavailability, I bought Milky Mist's Fresh Cream, which is THE best I've come across, albeit a little more expensive.
2)Whip the cream until soft peaks form. STOP when you see this, or even before this.
If you beat for a minute more, it'll split and form butter, guaranteed.
3)Beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until combined and smooth. Fold in the whipped cream, and crushed oreos with the sandwiched cream and all.
Some of the oreos I bashed into powder, and some I made into bite-sized chunks.
Store in the refrigerator until needed.
For the Frosting:
1)Melt butter on medium heat. Stir in the cocoa, mix until smooth. Take off the heat and add the icing sugar and vanilla.
It'll look like this. Add milk by the spoonful, until it looks like this.
To assemble the cake:
1)On one layer, spread frosting on the rim so the cream won't ooze out. Heap on all of the filling into the centre of the cake.
2)Place the other layer on top. Spread the frosting over the sides and the top. Decorate with Oreos or whatever.
Two things I'd change about this cake is:
1)Let it cool completely before flipping it over, so the cracks wouldn't have formed.
2)Try to track down proper Philadelphia Cream Cheese by Kraft. Don't get me wrong, the yogurt was fantastic in its texture and taste, but it IS NOT cream cheese.
Minor grievances aside, here's my piece de resistance!
I don't have a cross-section of the cake, sadly. Neither did I get to taste it altogether (obviously, I ate quite a bit of the individual components).
Maybe it wasn't The Best Cake, Ever. But I have it on good authority that it was pretty great. I'll choose to believe that, either way.