Food Memories – Anne’s Birthday Butter Cake

In the world before Facebook, Anne was one of the few people from my days as an awkward adolescent that I kept in contact with.  She introduced me to Jane’s Addiction and Kudos Chocolate Chip Granola Bars and I introduced her to driving a stick shift.  I’d say that was a pretty even exchange.   Here’s her food memory, which shows that not all our food memories are old and dusty sitting on a shelf in the back of our minds.

Anne’s Birthday Butter Cake

It was my birthday and my significant other and I placed restrictions on birthday spending given our limited income.  In fact, gifts were banned.  Since he is one of the world’s most incredibly generous, loving people he found a way to make my birthday amazing and amazingly memorable.  It was the best present ever, hands down.  And made from scratch!  My fabulous present – a chocolate cake with coffee liqueur ganache and mocha-chocolate cream filling.  Delicious! We savored every last morel and licked the plate when we were finished days later.

I have to say I was totally impressed that he found a cake he’d never made before, one that seemed highly involved being that I don’t know how to do anything in the kitchen, and managed to keep it a surprise from me!  I was also equally shocked when he made it a second time for friends.  No fair! That’s my birthday cake. I had a slice, but it was no where near as delicious.

Days later after making the cake for a second time, he said he had something to tell me.  He laughingly admitted that he’d read the recipe incorrectly and doubled the amount of butter used.  No wonder my birthday cake was so great…he used 6 sticks of butter!  How did it bake? Go ahead, I dare you to make it with 6 sticks of butter.

BAH Note:  Now I like to think that I’m an adventurous sort of gal but the idea of purposely breaking a recipe just to see if I could make it work with six sticks of butter was too great a challenge for me.  So I stuck to what Anne said was the original recipe.  And in a departure from my approach of making these food memory recipes just as they were written, the idea of a three layer cake was overwhelming to both my kitchen sense and my common sense.  Sorry Anne, I’m no match for your food memory recipe.  Instead of a filled and frosted cake, I skipped the filling and turned these into cupcakes.  You do what makes sense for you.  Should you accept the challenge of Anne’s Birthday Butter Cake, be prepared for a lot of batter.  And while you might think adding a cup of boiling water to your batter is all kinds of wrong, it works.  I’ve got three dozen cupcakes to prove it.

Anne’s Birthday Cake

  • 2-ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2-ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup boiling water

Coat 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray. Line bottoms of pans with wax paper; grease wax paper with shortening, and set aside.  Melt the chopped chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until incorporated after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla.

Sift together cake flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and add to butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended.  Stir in 1 cup boiling water. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.

Bake at 350° for 28 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate; spread top with 4 tablespoons Coffee Liqueur Ganache Icing. Spread half of Mocha-Chocolate Cream Filling evenly over ganache on cake layer. Top with second cake layer; spread top with 4 tablespoons Coffee Liqueur Ganache Icing and remaining Mocha-Chocolate Cream Filling. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining Coffee Liqueur Ganache Icing on top and sides of cake. Garnish, if desired.

Coffee Liqueur Ganache Icing

  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur

Place chocolate in a bowl.  Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat just until cream just begins to boil.  Pour over chocolate in bowl, stirring until smooth. Stir in butter and liqueur. Let mixture stand 45 minutes or until spreading consistency.

Mocha-Chocolate Cream Filling

  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened. Spoon mixture into a small bowl; cover surface of mixture with plastic wrap, pressing wrap onto surface, and let stand 30 minutes or until cool.

Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Gradually add cooled cocoa mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add vanilla, beating until mixture is the consistency of whipped cream.

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2 Responses to Food Memories – Anne’s Birthday Butter Cake

  1. Anne says:

    girl, you got the short end of the deal. teaching me to drive stick was a valuable life lesson and i am eternally thankful. and yum… i could go for a cupcake.

    • Wendi says:

      Anne, I have managed to forget (selectively and otherwise) many, many things from the past. But I will never forget you, the Bronco, and the Western High School parking lot at night. How did we manage to not get chased off the complex by security?

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