I survived. Not college. That's not until Thursday. I survived my recital! As I stepped off the stage last night, my career as a pianist at this university came to an end. I was more nervous about this than I am about graduating. I made sure to get plenty of sleep and practice with music so that I don't have a memory slip. Maybe it's because my mom has never seen me play in a recital and I wanted to play perfectly for her. My friends, their family, my mom, and my professors said I played well and that they were so proud of me. The overwhelming support from everyone made me forget about the few mistakes I made.
The last two years were filled with amazing opportunities for me. I'm not a music major or even a minor; yet, the piano has a big role in my life. I have been playing it since I was about 7. I stopped taking lessons when I came to college, but picked it up again my junior year. Here at W&L, I got to perform in my very first recital (and then many more after that), I got to practice on a Steinway & Sons grand piano almost daily, and I even got to play on a harpsichord AND a pianoforte from the 18th century!
My teacher has been the best I've had in my life. She taught me so much that has changed the way I play the piano, but for the better! On Monday, she took all her senior students out to lunch. I realized too late that I probably should give her a thank-you gift, so I couldn't think of something to buy. So I baked her a cake. I wanted it to be really special, maybe with some special flavors, but then I realized that I would have only 3 or 4 hours to make this cake from measuring ingredients to icing the cake. That made it easier to decide.
This is a simple yet flavorful cake. Boxed mixes and pre-made frosting taste alright, but this is amazing. Especially the frosting. The pre-made ones are so sweet that it makes my mouth feel funny, but this homemade frosting has the perfect level of sweetness. I had a lot left over so I went out to buy graham crackers. Marshmallow fluff and chocolate covered graham crackers or chocolate peanut butter covered graham crackers? They're sitting in the fridge, taunting me.
Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting
From Annie's Eats
For the cake
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing pans
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pans
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups milk
For the frosting
- 1 lb semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 6 tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 6 tbsp boiling water
- 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- Pinch of salt
1. To make the cakes, preheat the oven to 350F. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour the edges of the pans, tapping out the excess; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk together to blend well and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the milk. Beat each addition just until incorporated.
4. Divide the batter between the prepared baking pans. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans to help remove the cakes. Invert the cakes onto the rack and peel off the parchment. Let the cakes cool completely before frosting. Level the cakes if necessary.
5. To make the frosting, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, about 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the cocoa powder and boiling water in a small bowl; stir until the cocoa is dissolved.
6. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the melted chocolate; beat on low speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the cocoa mixture until well blended. (Note: My frosting was still a bit runny for decorating at this point. I let it cool longer before frosting the cake so it could firm up slightly.)
7. To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers on a serving platter. Top with 1 cup of the chocolate frosting and smooth over the top of the cake. Top with the remaining cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting as desired. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 3 days. Let come to room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.