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This Classic Birthday Cake was adapted from Williams-Sonoma Mastering Series, Cakes, Fillings and Frosting, by Elinor Klivans. The recipe includes a soaking syrup, a buttercream and a frosting. But as far as involved cakes go this was not too difficult. And it’s not a sponge; it’s your classic foam cake. All the leavening is by the beaten egg whites. The recipe was made much more complicated than needed to be. Would you believe it I had to simplify the recipe several times, because the instructions were so elaborate and complex. I cut the syrup in half; you won’t even use half that amount. I will have to make this one more time to fine tune the recipe. I thought this would be a smashing good cake. Happy Birthday Simone!

So we had the cake. I found it way too rich. A thin slice and you are done. There was leftover buttercream and frosting too. I think the soaking syrup was redundant, a foam cake doesn't need soaking besides the cake would have been plenty sweet without it. Actually, the sugar in the cake could be cut down, by about 1/4 of a cup. The flavour of both the buttercream and the frosting was nice, I didn't find them too sweet. But there was just way too much butter and chocolate. There is simply no need for both buttercream and frosting. Next time I think I will loose both the soaking syrup and the buttercream.

But after I met with considerable resistance from grandchild over the issue of making or not making this cake again, the story after all is not yet finished.

Vanilla Sponge Cake
1 cup cake flour
pinch of salt
6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

1⁄4 cup water
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp dark rum
1⁄4 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Buttercream
3 egg whites
1⁄4 tsp cream of tartar
2⁄3 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
1⁄4 cup water
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, in 10 equal pieces, soft
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 squares of semisweet chocolate, melted
candy thermometer is essential

Chocolate Frosting
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 cup unsalted butter, soft
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1⁄4 cup whipping cream, room temperature

1. Make the cakes:

• Preheat the oven 350F.
• Lightly spray or butter two 9-inch spring form cake pans.
• Line the bottom and the sides of both pans with parchment paper.
• Lightly spray the parchment.
• In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients. Set aside.
• In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.
• Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
• In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
• Add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
• Gradually and very gently fold the egg yolks into the egg whites. Do not deflate.
• Gently fold in the sifted flour mixture in 4 additions. Adding the dry ingredients in small amounts prevents their weight from deflating the egg mixture.
• Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly.
• Bake the cakes undisturbed for 20 minutes or until tops feel firm.
• Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes.
• Run a thin knife along the inside edge of each pan to loosen the cake, keeping the knife pressed against the side.
• Unhook the spring mechanism and move the cake to a wire rack to cool.
• Repeat with the second layer.
• Let cool completely on the racks. If not using the cake layers right away, tightly wrap the cooled cake layers individually in plastic wrap and store them at room temperature for up to 2 days.

2. Make the cake syrup:

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the water and sugar.
Heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot.
Remove from the heat and stir in the rum and vanilla extract.
Let the syrup cool to room temperature, for about 15 minutes.

3. Make the buttercream:

• In a small pan begin to melt the chocolate on the lowest of temperature.
• Make the sugar syrup for the buttercream.
• In deep bowl whisk to blend the egg whites and cream of tartar until the cream of tartar dissolves, about 1 minute.
• Set the bowl aside.
• In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the 2⁄3 cup sugar, the water and the corn syrup.
• Heat on low heat until the sugar dissolves.
• Occasionally stir with a wooden spoon.
• Increase the heat to high and let the syrup bubble vigorously, without stirring, until it is smooth and thick and registers 240F on a candy thermometer.
• Remove from the heat.
• Combine the egg whites and sugar syrup
• Beat the egg white mixture with the 2 Tbsp sugar on medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute.
• Increase the speed to medium-high and continue beating the egg whites until they look white, shiny and smooth and soft peaks form when the whip is lifted.
• Reduce the mixer speed to low and carefully pour the hot syrup in a thin stream in the space between the whip and the sides of the bowl; the bowl will feel hot to the touch. When all of the syrup has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and beat for 5 minutes. At this point, the outside of the bowl will be lukewarm to the touch and the mixture will form stiff peaks when the whip is lifted.
• With the mixer on medium-high speed, add the butter to the egg white mixture 1 piece at a time.
• Beat until each piece of butter is incorporated before adding the next piece.
• Stop the mixer occasionally and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
• Add the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate and beat until combined.
• The buttercream should be soft enough to spread but not pourable. If it is too soft, refrigerate for about 20 minutes to firm it slightly, then, just before using, whisk briefly until smooth.

4. Make the chocolate frosting:

• Melt the chocolate in a small pot over very low heat.
• In a large bowl, combine the icing sugar and butter.
• Beat on low speed until combined; beat smooth.
• Add the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate and beat until fully incorporated.
• Pour in the whipping cream and beat on high for 1 minute until the color lightens and mixture looks fluffy.
• Use the frosting as soon as possible, while it is still soft and spreads easily.

5. Assemble the cake:

• Cut each cake into 2 uniform layers.
• Place a large sheet of waxed paper on the work surface.
• Place the cake layers on the waxed paper, keeping one cut side down (this will be the top of the cake) and the rest of the layers with cut side up.
• With a clean pastry brush, brush the top of each of the 4 layers LIGHTLY with the cake syrup. The syrup will moisten and add flavour to the cake.
• Place 4 strips of waxed paper, each cut 2 inches wide, about 1 inch apart on a cake stand or plate.
• Reserve 1-1/2 cups from the chocolate buttercream.
• Divide the remaining chocolate buttercream into 3 parts and spread each cake layer [but not the top one] with one part of the chocolate buttercream.
• Slide the bottom cake layer, syrup side up, onto the waxed paper strips.
• Place all the cake layers on the top ending with the top layer without the buttercream.
• Place the cake in the freezer for 15 minutes.
• Remove cake from the freezer and lightly crumb coat the top and the sides with the chocolate frosting.
• Place back in the freezer for another 15 minutes.
• Remove cake from the freezer and transfer to a serving platter.
• Generously coat the top and the sides with the chocolate frosting.
• Pipe the reserved chocolate buttercream around the bottom and the top of the cake.



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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!