Chocolate Birthday Cake

dsc_1502RECIPE #323, DAY #516


ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Chocolate Cake” and “Fudge Frosting” from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook*

TIMING: A few hours, total

DIFFICULTY: Advanced, considering the fondant. Otherwise, not too difficult

TOOLS: Rolling pin, stand mixer, whisk, round baking pans, parchment paper, etc.

COOK TYPE: Oven and stovetop

HEALTH: This is cake, pure and simple. Sugar. White flour. Not much redemption, except that it’s homemade so there aren’t any additives, HFCS, etc.dsc_1492

EXPERIENCE: My daughter wanted chocolate cake for her birthday. She also wanted it to look like this beautiful, tall and narrow, fondant Tinker Bell cake on Pinterest. Besides making the cake squatter (because I don’t have more than one size of circle cake pan) and moving the decoration to the top, I totally pulled this off. I got there with some experience, patience, time, and loving care.

Of course, you can just top after you frost this cake, and not use fondant to finish it off.

NOTES: Of course, the decoration possibilities are nearly endless.

It might go without saying, but always scrape down your batter bowl occasionally with a spatula, as you are beating. It is also important to pause the mixing in order to do this.

I love Duff Goldman’s fondant. I won’t use other fondants without putting up a fight.

The photos show only half the frosting, because that is the way my daughter wanted her cake.


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Oil 2 round baking pans, then line the bottom with parchment paper and oil it again, then dust with flour.
  2. In your stand mixer, combine 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar, 3/4 cups softened unsalted butter, 2/3 cups cocoa powder, 1 1/4 cups water, 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 2 eggs. Beat on low for 30 seconds, then high for 3 minutes.
  3. Pour batter into your cake pan and bake for 30 minutes before checking for doneness with a toothpick. Set aside on a cooling rack to cool before turning out carefully.
  4. Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, whisk together 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup cocoa powder. Turn heat to medium and stir in 1/2 cup milk, 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then boil for 3 minutes, stirring. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes.
  5. When frosting has cooled, beat in 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Add more powdered sugar, up to another 1/2 cup, until frosting is correct consistency. Set aside at room temperature.
  6. Even out your cake tops with a long, serrated knife. Place first cake on your serving plate and coat on top with a hefty bit of the frosting. Layer the second cake, then give the whole thing another hefty bit of frosting, doing everything you can to cover in one coat and use all the frosting. You want it to be as smooth as possible.
  7. On a clean, flat surface, roll out about 20 ounces of decorator fondant of your choice color. Get it really thin and circular, then lift it up super carefully (like with a friend) and drape over your cake, perfectly centered. Carefully smooth the fondant down the sides, then cut off excess at the bottom.
  8. Use fondant of other colors to roll out and cut out the shapes you desire. Place them on the cake with just a fingertip of water, then smooth the sides with a damp fork tine. Apply themed sprinkles with a fingertip of water, as well.


Serve with ice cream, of course, and coffee.

*Recipe changed from the original.


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