For birthday celebrations in this house, the boys get to pick (and I get to cook) a special meal for dinner, and a cake: whatever kind, and whatever shape. Just like my mom used to do for us, but she had a book with patterns of a turtle, an elephant, a butterfly… I just make a sheet cake and try to get creative cutting and pasting with frosting, then decorating with homemade decorators icing piped out of a plastic bag I roll down and squeeze through a hole in the end for a tip. Throughout the years, I’ve made cakes in the shape of a few different snowmobiles, a snowmobile engine (I’m serious here), a sheep, a horse, a space shuttle, and a Star Wars Death Star. Oh, this last one was rather strange – a big grey round blob. I had to send my mom, living in a big city, searching high and low for black food coloring. Sure enough, she found some. This was actually the cake that Alan dog ate off the counter when we first got him.
OK, so I suppose this was something I did for Forrest. Not Bob. But alas, Forrest is turning 16 soon, so he’s elected to have a regular cake. No fancy shape. Guess it’s part of growing up… At least he requested one of my favorite cake recipes… but sorry, you’ll have to wait till next week for that one.
In the meanwhile, this week I’m going to share with you the recipe for the birthday cake I made yesterday for Bob’s birthday. His personal favorite cake. And I suppose his second favorite dessert, after Banana Cream Pie. I found that out when my honey who so rarely eats sweets ate the entire pie left as a gift from one of our guests (hey Russell – that was your mom!).
But German Chocolate Cake comes a close second, and number one for cakes for Bob. It was the cake we had for our wedding cake, too, with a couple plastic horses on top instead of a bride and groom.
So, here’s the recipe. I hope you try it and enjoy.
German Chocolate Cake
In a small sauce pan, heat stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth:
½ cup water
½ cup chocolate chips
In a separate large bowl, cream:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 ¾ cups sugar
If you have an electric mixer, use it, and beat this for a few minutes until it is light and fluffy. If you’re a die hard non-electric user like me, use a big fork, and keep on working it for as long as your arm holds out. It’s exhausting, but it’s worth it.
In the butter/sugar mixture, mix in:
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
Again, mix this really well until smooth and light.
Add the chocolate/water mixture to this bowl, and continue to mix it well.
Next, add the dry ingredients all at once to the moist, and mix until well blended:
2 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
In a separate medium bowl, whip until soft peaks form:
4 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Here again, if you’ve got the electricity and a mixer, now is a good time to use it.
Then add to the egg whites:
¼ cup white sugar
Continue whipping this until the peaks are stiff but not dry.
Gently fold ½ of the egg whites into the batter, then the second half even more gently.
Pour the batter evenly into three separate pans. Ideally, three round 8 or 9-inch cake pans. I don’t have these, so I used two 8-inch square pans and one 9-inch square pan. Whatever pans you use, be sure you have greased them really well, and dusted them with flour before pouring the batter in.
Bake the cakes in a pre-heated oven, medium hot, about 350 degrees, for approximately 25 minutes. Do the good old cake test for doneness by sticking a toothpick in the center and making sure it comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack in the pans for about 5 minutes, then carefully pry the edges loose, tap the bottom of the pan to loosen the center, invert the pans and remove the cakes, letting the cakes continue to cool on the wire racks..
While the cakes are cooling, you can prepare the frosting.
In a medium saucepan, combine:
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
3 large egg yolks
½ cup, or 1 stick, butter, cut into small pieces
Cook this over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture boils. Let it simmer while stirring for about 5 minutes until it thickens. Then remove from heat and stir in:
1 1/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/3 cups chopped pecans
Let the frosting cool at room temperature until it is at a comfortable temperature to work with, then spread on the tops only of each layer of cake.
Oh, and with the remaining egg white and the rest of the coconut, I stirred them up with 1 teaspoon almond extract ½ cup flour, and a pinch of salt; put walnut size balls on a greased and floured cookie sheet; baked for 10 minutes at 350; and made a quick small batch of Macaroons.