The Birthday boy and his best chocolate cake.
A few days back, I got introduced to Samar Halankar in a column in livemint, where he explains how his birthday should be and since then, had been inspired to cook for my birthday for the entire family. (link) I would have cooked if .. If those messages would not have started pouring in that it’s a day to pamper myself. I am not lazy neither I procrastinate but I allowed myself to go slow on that day. And Madhushree baked the best chocolate cake ever.
Birthday then and no best chocolate cake.
The celebrations change as you grow up. Much like the meaning of happiness. There are no more new clothes or carrying candy to school. A class teacher wishing you, ma making luchi at home and Baba planning a surprise gift were all looked forward to. Those days, anything that could excite and surprise me was either a cricket bat, a football, or a storybook. As I grew up, gifts changed to money from parents and relatives. Most of the time, they would go to the savings account. It’s not that I miss the gifts. What I miss the most are the personalised messages.
A greetings card, a letter or a book with few words and the date written on it. I have saved most of them, even in tattered condition. I am quite a hoarder that way. The date and the year scribbled on the first page of ta book opens up a treasure trunk of memories. In my growing up years, I never cut a cake, leave aside a chocolate cake.
Birthday now – Tugga is more excited and the best chocolate cake was made for him?
With 6 months to go for his birthday, Tugga starts giving us a reminder for his party and his gifts. This time, I decided to do the same to him. Not six months before but a week. It is fun to behave like a child and I started sharing my birthday wish to him. Although I did tell him that I would prefer a surprise, a predictable one would do too. A Watch or a pen fits the bill. The little son of mine has definitely grown up as he surrendered ” Baba I don’t have that much money”. That didn’t deter him to spring a surprise.
Madhushree assured him that a cake will be made. A day before, Tugga started remaining unseen most of the time and pretended to be busy in his TV watching room. I knew what was coming but remained ignorant. The little boy, before going off to sleep, kept a card under my pillow. He tried to hide it carefully when I slept and the next day morning, woke up and handed the card to me. I think I got the best gift ever that I can remember.
Madhushree needs a reason to bake a cake
Baking is like catharsis to Madhushree. Long and tiring days, illness, nothing can deter her. I say jokingly, she bakes when it rains, she bakes when it doesn’t and she even bakes on days which doesn’t have a Y in it. We ordered Chinese food for lunch, which is again everyone’s favourite but Tugga enjoys it the most. Yes, I have had some wildest parties, some getaways, some cozy moments with Baba and Ma but all these seem from a distant past now. I realise this is another phase of life where the happiness of kids on your special day becomes important. I remained extra sweet to him, hugged him many times without any reason, played with Brishti endlessly and didn’t think about any work.
Promises for next year and heartfelt gratitude.
They say count your blessings. I do that at every opportunity, on every occasion. Wired messages are the call of the day. Friends and relatives called, sent messages, used my wall on Facebook and even facebook stories to remember my special day. I remain grateful to you all. Next year I promise to cook a meal for the entire family, so my cooking game has to go up beyond Rogan Josh (link ) and Kosha Mangsho (link) It was awkward to cut the cake and Madhushree I decided rather we shoot the cake for the blog. Then all of us enjoyed the best chocolate cake together. I felt a sense of calmness within. I tried to capture and remember as many moments as possible, I had lost Baba 4 years back within 15 days of my birthday. Birthdays also at times, bring in memories that you don’t want to remember.
Over to Madhushree:
Over the years, I have baked enough chocolate cakes with numerous recipes to figure out which one works the best. I remember starting with a chocolate fudge cake when I was 16. It was a recipe I had got from my then neighbour. Ma used to do a chocolate cake which was really nice too. Double chocolate mousse cake is more of a dessert than a cake. But the recipe that I am going to share today, is my all-time favourite. It works with or without frosting. I always favour buttercream over any other frosting. So this is a recipe for the best chocolate cake ever with chocolate buttercream.
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The best chocolate cake
For the chocolate cakeIn a
- 1 ½ cups Maida or all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups Caster sugar
- ¾ cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp Baking soda
- 1 tsp Salt
- ¼ cup Any vegetable oil
- ¾ cup yogurt or dahi
- 2 nos Eggs
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla essence
- ¾ cup hot water
For Chocolate buttercream
- 1 cup Unsalted Butter in room temperature
- 100 gms dark chocolate chopped into small pieces
- 1 cup good quality cocoa powder
- 3 cups Icing Sugar
- 2 tbsp whipping cream optional, but you could also use regular cream
Baking the cake
- In a large mixing bowl, take all the dry ingredients- flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda. Mix well and make sure everything is combined.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with vegetable oil, yogurt and vanilla essence. When thoroughly combined, very gently, pour the hot water through the side of the bowl and continue whisking. It will become frothy and rise.
- Now make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. using a spatula, gently fold everything together. If you want to use an electric mixer, use the lowest speed to combine everything thoroughly. The batter is quite a runny batter.
- Take two 7 inch cake tins. Line them with butter paper or grease and dust them with flour. Pour the batter evenly in both the cake tins.
- Plate in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees c for about 30 minutes. Check with a skewer if the cake is done or not. The skewer should come out clean when pricked in the centre of the cake.
- Once the cakes are done, take them out and let them cool down for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then take the cakes out of the cake tin and place them on a wire rack to cool down completely.
Making the buttercream frosting
- In a glass bowl or microwave-safe bowl, place the chopped dark chocolate crumbs and melt them. In a microwave, you need to do in medium power in intervals of 20 seconds till the chocolate melts. Stir the chocolate and keep it aside.
- In a mixing bowl, take the butter and whisk. Add the chocolate and incorporate it thoroughly.
- Then using a sift, add the cocoa powder and then whisk and mix everything. Finally, add vanilla essence and sift in the icing sugar in batches and whisk to incorporate. Add the cream if it is becoming too thick and then add the rest of the icing sugar. (Sifting the icing sugar and adding is absolutely essential)
- Transfer the frosting to a piping bag and keep it aside.
- Either you can decide to make this is two-layer cake or three-layer, depending on that, slice your cakes. In case you want a two-layer cake, then only cut off the round tops of the cakes.
- For assembling the cake, place one slice of the cake on a turntable. Then add dollops of frosting in the centre and then using an icing knife or spatula, spread the frosting.
- Place the other half of the cake on top of the frosting. Then cover the sides and then the top with frosting and keep in the refrigerator.
- After 20 minutes, take the cake out and give another coat of frosting and do any decoration or design if you want to before serving.