Chocolate Cake/Strawberry Filling/Vanilla Bean Frosting


My family came together for a weekend in April to celebrate my grandfather's 87th birthday. This is the first time in 4 years that I wasn't living too far to participate in his birthday celebration. So I took a rest from the LA hustle & bustle and drove up to the desert. I baked a cake and hung with family (and my dogs, duh). It was so nice to see my grandpa sitting back, enjoying himself. The day after, he called me and thanked me again for being there. I suppose I've figured out one reason why people choose to move back to their home state after college. I may not be in California forever, but I sure will take advantage of these moments while I can. 

Here's a cake that represents being an adult, setting aside differences, and being there for people who matter. 




I regretfully lack a photo of the inside of this cake (and my grandpa smiling beside it). The lighting was dim, there was a dozen people crowded in my kitchen, 8 birthday candles glowing, and I was not in much of a position to steal the cake away for photos after the happy birthday singing extravaganza. "BRB, I have to go take pictures."Yea, right. Instead, I cut the cake and dished it out with strawberry ice cream. I was too entirely caught up in the moment. Sometimes, that's just the way it is and the way it should be.  

The good news is that my recipe for chocolate cake is not new to this blog. In fact, I've been making this cake since the first year I started baking. It's an old favorite, and it's varieties can be found in my recipes for chocolate oreo cupcakes and See's Candies cupcakes. This is my go-to chocolate cake. It's one bowl and no-fail. My best advice is to use dark chocolate cocoa powder for a deep, irresistible chocolate flavor. 

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One Bowl -no fail- Chocolate Cake 
Yield: two 8" or 9" cake layers 
The batter will be liquidity, so don't worry!

Ingredients:
- 2 cups granulated sugar 
-1-3/4 cup all purpose flour 
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
- 1 teaspoon salt 
- 2 eggs 
- 1 cup milk 
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil or canola oil 
- 1 cup boiling water 

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8" or 9" cake pans with cooking spray. Line the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine. 
  3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes until the batter is smooth. 
  4. Stir in boiling water by hand. 
  5. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely before removing from pan. 
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Vanilla Bean Frosting
Yield: approx. 3 cups

Ingredients:  
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened 
- 3 cups powdered sugar 
- 2-3 tablespoons milk or heavy cream 
- 1 vanilla bean pod, scraped and seeded*
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Method:
  1. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter until light and fluffy. 
  2. Add the powdered sugar to the butter a little at a time and mix until fully combined.
  3. Then, add the milk, vanilla seeds, and vanilla extract. Continue to mix until the frosting is light, airy, and spreadable. 
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Assembly
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1 lb. strawberries
  1. Make a simple syrup by dissolving the sugar in the boiling water. Set aside to cool. 
  2. Fill the cake 1/2 cup of frosting and sliced strawberries.
  3. Place the top layer over the filling and ice the cake with the remaining buttercream.
  4. Use a pastry brush to coat the strawberries with a light layer of simple syrup.*
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*Tips:
- Brushing the strawberries with simple syrup will preserve the fresh look and prolong their shelf life. 
- For a quick tutorial on how to use vanilla beans, check out my vanilla bean Food Hacks article here.
- For advice on frosting a cake professionally, check out Butter Me Up Brooklyn's tutorial.

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© A Little Baker
Maira Gall