Thursday, 24 July 2014

Birthday Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Ganache

The best part of any birthday is the cake - it just isn't a proper birthday celebration without one.  I love baking birthday cakes - and every July I try to make something new and different for my mom.  Two years ago, it was the Big Berry Birthday Cake, and last year it was this pretty pink ombre vanilla cake.  I couldn't decide what to do this year, and I was waffling back and forth for a while before deciding to go with a simple vanilla cake base, a proper chocolate ganache filling, and something pretty on top.

I have seen and heard the term ganache many times without really understanding what it is.
Ganache is a glaze, icing, sauce, or filling for pastries made from chocolate and cream. Ganache is normally made by heating cream, then pouring it over chopped chocolate of any kind.  
Thank you Wikipedia.

Perfect. I had leftover whipping cream from this pie, and I certainly never need an excuse to buy chocolate.  I read up on how to make chocolate ganache, and most sources cited the same thing - the ratio of cream to chocolate depends on what you intend to do with it - if using as a filling, use a 1:1 ratio.

I also tried a trick from The Law Student's Wife on how to bake the most moist cake ever.  Well, half of the trick.  She recommends letting the cakes cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then wrapping in plastic wrap to seal in the moisture until cool.  The second step is the brush the top with a sugar-water mixture before icing...which I did not do.

I cannot even tell you how delicious this cake was - Perfection.  It deserves the title of Birthday Vanilla Cake.  I would even consider this over the chocolate version for my birthday cake.  And that is definitely the highest compliment from a life-long chocolate cake devotee.

Birthday Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Cake recipe from Chatelaine

Vanilla Cake
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour                          
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt

2/3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 9-in. round cake pans* and line bottoms with parchment.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, cream softened butter together with granulated sugar using a hand mixer. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in 1 tsp vanilla.  Add one-third of flour mixture, then add half the milk. Repeat, ending with flour mixture.
Divide evenly between the two cake pans.
Bake in centre of oven until a cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 24 minutes.  Cool in pans on a rack for 10 min, then turn cakes out onto rack. Remove parchment. Cool completely, about 30 min.

Chocolate Ganache Filling
2/3 cup chopped chocolate (I used 50% dark, but any kind will do)
2/3 cup whipping cream

Chop chocolate in small pieces and put in a heat safe bowl.  Heat cream up until just before boiling, and pour over the chocolate.  Resist the urge to stir (although I did, and mine turned out fine) for a few minutes.

Let cool to room temperature.  Pour into a larger bowl (big enough to whip in) and whip until it turns into a smooth, fluffy consistency.  To be honest, I almost gave up.  I thought I had done something wrong - it didn't appear to be changing consistency after I had been whipping for a few minutes, but my persistency paid off. Spread ganache thickly on the top of the bottom layer and gently place the top layer on top.

Frost with your favourite icing and a pretty strawberry flower.

*Note:  this recipe makes 2 thin layers of cake.  I recommend using 8 inch pans for a slightly thicker layer, or doubling the recipe and using some batter as cupcakes.

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