I can't seem to keep up with all my students' birthdays, so even though I want to do something special, I'd end up forgetting about some of them. I don't want to be unfair or look like I'm playing "favorites" so I don't do anything for birthdays. Last week, however, one of my classes requested a cake. "It's my birthday on Tuesday!" "Mine's on Sunday!" "Mine was two months ago!" Why not celebrate everyone's birthday all at once?
This chocolate cake is probably one of the best recipes. First of all, it bakes evenly. I didn't do anything to have the layers come out level--they just turned out that way! No extra work! I went for two layers instead of four, so it was even easier. Second, I love that it's not too sweet. It paired perfectly with the Nutella frosting. I've seen students in this class bring in bags of pretzels or other snacks to dip in their jars of Nutella, so I knew they'd enjoy the frosting. A whole 2-lb bag of powdered sugar is definitely a lot and next time I probably won't use the whole thing so that the frosting can have a stronger Nutella flavor.
Hmm, I guess I played favorites anyway by baking a cake for just one class... Well, what the others don't know won't hurt 'em, riiiiiight? Plus, I'd bake all the time and not just on test days if they'd behave and get some work done!
Chocolate Cake [Makes 2 layers]
From Diamonds for Dessert
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir in eggs one at a time. Add the milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and mix. Now add the boiling water and mix. Spray two round 9" diameter baking pans with nonstick spray. Pour your batter into the two pans, splitting it equally between them. Place pans in oven and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove cakes from oven and let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then, carefully transfer the cakes to a cooling rack to finish cooling. When the cakes are totally cool and you're ready to decorate them, take a knife and slice them in half like a hamburger bun so you end up with four circular cake layers.
Nutella Buttercream Frosting [Frosts 24 cupcakes or 1 9-inch layer cake]
From My Baking Addiction
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 13-oz jar Nutella
Pinch of fine grain sea salt
1 tbsp clear vanilla extract
2 lb confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 to 8 tbsp heavy cream or milk
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and Nutella until well combined. Slowly add in confectioner’s sugar, and continue creaming until well blended.
Add salt, vanilla, and 3 tbsp of heavy cream or milk. Blend on low speed until moistened. Add an additional 3 to 5 tbsp of heavy cream or milk until you reach the desired consistency. Beat at high speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
Covered and refrigerated frosting can be stored for up to three days. Bring it to room temperature and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. You may need to add a couple of teaspoons of heavy cream or milk to revive the consistency.