Tag Archives: birthday cake

Chocolate Cupcakes {Six Year Anniversary!}

Chocolate Cupcakes

E2 Bakes turned six years old yesterday. While some things have stayed consistent over the last 634 posts—namely that I keep on posting—one of bigger changes in the last year is that I have finally started to appreciate the art of the cupcake.

Oh, I had cupcake recipes before this year—of course I did—but not many. Making cupcakes takes more time than making layer cakes (the dividing of batter alone…) and, contrary to popular belief, they’re not as simple as divvying up a layer cake recipe into a lot of little bits. Really great cupcakes are a bit more nuanced than that. But nuance doesn’t equal difficulty, and my best ever Chocolate Cupcakes are proof positive of that.

One surefire way to have great cupcakes every time? Don’t overfill the pans. Just don’t. Bigger is not better here—if you want bigger cake, make a layer cake. Lest I need to say it again: cupcakes are their own thing. Once your batter is prepared, fill each well 1/2-2/3 full and absolutely no more. You’ll think “this isn’t enough batter,” but it absolutely is. You can thank me when you pull 20+ soft, tender, perfectly domed little cakes from the oven. None with flat, spread-out tops for me, thanks!

The batter is a simple whisking situation, but there is a secret to getting the most chocolate flavor out of your ingredients: blooming the cocoa powder! Blooming is simply combining cocoa with a warm liquid ingredient to bring out its natural depth. I have bloomed cocoa many times on this blog, including my first post ever, wherein I melted butter, cocoa and sugar together for perfect chewy Cocoa Brownies. I’ve also done it by adding hot coffee to layer cakes and warming the butter and cocoa in my chocolate cookies. Here, the cocoa is stirred into warmed (not hot!) oil before being combined with dry ingredients and buttermilk.

Chocolate Cupcakes

While the recipe will still produce cupcakes if you skip the blooming, they will be oddly unremarkable. Not bad—nothing with a giant plume of chocolate buttercream on top could ever be bad. They just won’t be great. And I don’t know about you, but after six years of baking on here, I think we all deserve great cupcakes.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate Cupcakes 
makes 20-22 cupcakes

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon espresso granules (optional)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

For decorating:
Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below)
chocolate sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 20-22 cups in muffin/cupcake pans with liners. Set aside.

Bloom the cocoa. Pour oil into a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave 20-25 seconds or until warm (but not hot). This step may also be done in a pot on the stove.

Add cocoa to oil and whisk with a fork to combine. Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, espresso granules, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and brown sugar. In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together vanilla and buttermilk.

Whisk half the bloomed cocoa into the dry ingredients, followed by half the buttermilk. Add the remaining bloomed cocoa followed by the remaining buttermilk.

Divide batter among the liners, ensuring that they are only 1/2-2/3 full. Tap full pans on the counter 5 times to release large air bubbles, then bake cupcakes 18-19 minutes, or until slightly domed. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

Let cupcakes cool in their pans for 5 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely.

Spread or pipe chocolate buttercream on cooled cupcakes. Finish with sprinkles. Serve.

Leftover cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Chocolate Buttercream
makes enough for 1 batch of cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons heavy cream

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner's sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Load into a piping bag fitted with a tip (I used a star tip here), or spread with an offset icing knife.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

My birthday is tomorrow, so let’s talk birthday cake! From elaborate layer cakes to ice cream cakes to marble cupcakes to cookie cakes, the cake you choose to have at your birthday celebration is highly personal. Some people have the same thing every year. Others, myself included, like to change it up. No matter which camp you fall into, I have loads of cake recipes for you in my archives. Here are some of my absolute favorites.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Black Forest Cake {Schwarzvaldtårta}

While feeling homesick on my birthday last year, I decided to recreate a Swiss-style Black Forest Cake that is hugely popular in my hometown. You won’t find any cherries or chocolate cake here, just layers of airy almond dacquoise, whipped cream and dark chocolate. It also happens to be naturally gluten-free and so, so good. I’ll be having the real deal for my birthday this year (lucky me!), but this homemade version hits the spot if you’re not near Fort Worth, Texas.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake

Who doesn’t love ice cream cake? This one is simple as can be, starting with sandwiching mint chocolate chip ice cream with two layers of chocolate cake, then finishing it with whipped cream and anything else you like! Feel free to change up the ice cream flavor or just use this as a template and change the recipe completely. There is no wrong way to ice cream cake.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes

When I was a kid, all the best birthday parties involved cookie cake. The same is true as an adult. I have Brown Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate M&Ms and Red Velvet Cookie Cakes in my archives, but this almost-36 year-old could really go for these colorful, miniature Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes right now!

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Red Velvet Marble Cupcakes

We all know a red velvet person. I usually save it for Oscar Night, but I think these Red Velvet Marble Cupcakes would fit the bill for birthdays too!

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

This chocolate cake is a thing to behold. Made with all vegan, gluten-free ingredients and stacked tall with vegan chocolate buttercream, it might just surprise you and become a favorite.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Something about Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting screams “birthday” to so many people. Mine is made with very good things like sour cream and brown sugar, mixed using the reverse creaming method, and finished with an irresistible chocolate frosting.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

How to Make Mini Layer Cakes

Not quite ready to start celebrating with larger groups yet? A mini layer cake might be the perfect solution! This tutorial has everything you need to make a birthday cake for 4-6 people.

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

M&Ms Surprise Cake

This is the cake for that person in your life who’s a little extra. The one who likes all the bells and whistles and would enjoy slicing into a cake full of candy—this cake is for that person. Also? Hi, I’m that person.

Have you made these or any of my other chocolate chip treats? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Friday Favorites: Birthday Cake​

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting​

My birthday is coming up this weekend, so this week is all about birthday cakes!

I have made a lot of birthday cakes—a lot!—and they have all been highly personal. I’ve had requests for everything from mousse cakes to Funfetti to Neapolitan to Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut, but Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting is the favorite by far. For whatever reason, it just screams “birthday” to a lot of people. And while I am inclined to rebel against anything that everyone seems to love (hello, I am a Gemini), I can’t say I’d be anything but delighted to blow out candles on a Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting​

I mean, what’s not to love about an egg-yellow vanilla butter cake with rich chocolate frosting? Nothing, that’s what. This cake is a classic for a reason.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting​

That said, not all yellow cakes are created equal. Yes, they’re all made rich and yellow from lots of eggs, yolks and butter, and they all have some amount of vanilla, but that is frequently where the similarities end. Some are too dense, others too light. Some taste vaguely like cornbread despite containing zero cornmeal (so weird). Even the really good ones vary wildly in terms of flavor and texture. I can say that from experience—I’ve tried a lot of them.

This Yellow Cake though? I like to think it strikes a balance. Yellow, buttery, vanilla-scented, not too dense, and not a hint of cornbread flavor to be found (seriously, it’s a thing). It’s made using the reverse creaming method I use for white cake. You mix the butter into the dry ingredients, then add loads of eggs and a mix of milk and sour cream. It feels wrong, but it’s so simple and produces tender results every time.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting​

I haven’t even mentioned the Chocolate Frosting, but as you can hopefully tell from the pictures, it’s absurdly good. Made with cocoa, melted dark chocolate and just enough confectioner’s sugar, it’s pure luxury. I like to frost this cake simply for a homemade look with lots of swoops, but feel free to increase the batch size if you want to pipe. Birthday person’s prerogative, you know.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting​
Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
makes one two-layer 9” round cake

Yellow Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup full-fat sour cream

Chocolate Frosting:
3 ounces dark chocolate
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
rainbow sprinkles, for garnish (optional)

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Combine flour, cornstarch, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk ingredients together (I like to do this by running my mixer on its lowest speed for about a minute).

Add butter to dry ingredients. Gradually turn the mixer from low up to medium, to mix in the butter until there are no large pieces and the texture is sort of rubbly. This will take a few minutes.

With the mixer running, add eggs and yolks one at a time, followed by vanilla. Mix until combined.

In a measuring cup or small mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk together milk and sour cream. Running the mixer on medium, add the milk mixture in two installments and mix until combined. Scrape down the bowl well to ensure even mixing.

Divide batter among prepared pans. Tap each full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake layers on the center rack for 31-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let let layers cool in their pans for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges of the layer before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Make the Chocolate Frosting. Place chopped dark chocolate in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring just until melted. Cool to room temperature (this can be done quickly by putting it into the fridge for 5-8 minutes, then whisking with a fork).

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until very light and fluffy (about 4-5 minutes). Beat in confectioner's sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Mix in melted chocolate, followed by vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Fill and frost the layers as desired. Garnish with rainbow sprinkles, if desired. Serve.

Layer cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.
Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Funfetti Bundt Cake

Funfetti Bundt CakeFunfetti, confetti, whatever you want to call it, white cake dotted with rainbow sprinkles is one of my favorite things on earth. Like, I logically know that sprinkles don’t qualify as a flavor, but that won’t keep me from saying that sprinkles are my favorite flavor. Seriously, add sprinkles to pretty much anything and I’ll love it. Those little pops of color are just so…happy. Is happiness a flavor?Funfetti Bundt CakeI haven’t made many layer cakes in the last year—it’s hard to believe I used to make 10-20 a month!—but that doesn’t mean I haven’t fed my craving for rainbow sprinkles. Last summer’s Funfetti Cookie Cupcakes are one of my favorite recipes in a long time, as is this Funfetti Bundt Cake.Funfetti Bundt CakeLike the traditional layer cake, this is a moist sour cream white cake positively loaded with rainbow sprinkles. Unlike the traditional cake, this batter takes exactly four minutes to mix; just dump everything in a bowl and let your electric mixer have at it until it’s impossibly smooth, thick and voluminous, then stir in 3/4 cup of rainbow sprinkles before baking.

Like most bundt cakes, this one takes its sweet time to bake and cool, but I promise your patience will be rewarded. Once your cake hits room temperature, pour on a glaze, scatter on some more sprinkles and slice it up! Funfetti Bundt Cake would be great for birthdays, picnics, holidays or any old time.Funfetti Bundt CakeI know that restrictions are starting to loosen as vaccines becomes more available, but if you’re not attending gatherings that require a cake of this size, don’t worry, I’m not either. What that means is that I happen to know that this recipe halves well and can be baked in a loaf pan for your immediate pod or just yourself. I don’t know about you, but dipping into my own personal Funfetti cake over the course of a week sounds a lot like happiness to me.Funfetti Bundt Cake

Funfetti Bundt Cake
makes one 10-cup capacity bundt*

Cake:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract or imitation butter extract (optional)
3/4 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils)

Icing & Garnish:
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
rainbow sprinkles (jimmies or nonpareils)

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 325F. Heavily grease a bundt pan with softened butter (or shortening) and dust well with flour. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, egg whites, vanilla, almond extract, sour cream and milk in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold rainbow sprinkles into batter.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in several places comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a thin, flexible knife around all exposed edges. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and let cake cool completely. Cake may be made up to a day in advance; it will keep double-wrapped in plastic wrap.

Make the icing. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar, milk, vanilla and salt. Mixture should be very thick, but pourable. If it’s too thick, add more milk by the teaspoon up to 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon); if it’s too thin, add more confectioners sugar in 2 tablespoon increments. Pour over cake. Scatter rainbow sprinkles on immediately. Let sit for 20 minutes to set. Move cake to a serving plate before slicing and serving.

Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Note:

This recipe may be halved and baked in a parchment-lined 9×5-inch loaf pan. Start checking the cake for doneness at the 55 minute mark.

Funfetti Bundt CakeFunfetti Bundt Cake

Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}My friend, VJ, loves gingerbread. Loves it. She speaks often about how before she had to stop eating gluten and went vegan, her grandma used to serve hers with canned peaches and whipped cream. While I am not much for canned peaches, the gingerbread part and the badass baking grandma part? Those I get.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Over the years, VJ has asked me to make gingerbread cakes for various milestones and occasions, but I have mostly failed. I even failed this past Thanksgiving! Too greasy, too dry, vaguely tarry, completely flavorless—I’ve made all the gingerbread cake failures under the sun. Let’s not discuss the occasion on which she had to serve store-bought ice cream cakes (that she couldn’t even eat!) at her own party because my attempt at this cake was so vile.

But then—but! then!—I tweaked my go-to gluten-free vegan cake recipe and made this Gingerbread Cake, and it’s exactly right: soft, tender, slightly sticky and spicy. And easy. And vegan and gluten-free. And out of this world delicious. This recipe right here? This one’s for VJ.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}It’s not just because I like to have a gluten-free vegan item on my holiday line-up every year (which I do). It’s that VJ’s 40th birthday is next week—you know I can’t let my favorite gluten-free vegan’s milestone birthday pass without cake. No way. Not rain, nor sleet, nor masked and distanced delivery will stop me from getting this cake to her on December 23rd.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Holy crap, y’all, this is good. Super moist with nothing to distract from its deep dark flavor, it’s better than most traditional flour, egg and dairy-based gingerbreads I’ve had. It’s definitely not better than VJ’s grandma’s though, because nothing is ever better than grandma’s. Believe me, I’ve tried to out-do grandmas and it never goes well. But anyway… Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}This Gingerbread Cake tows the line somewhere between holiday dessert and wintry everyday cake. It doesn’t need a blanket of frosting (although I think a little vegan maple buttercream might be good) or any adornment beyond a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, really. It can be baked square or round. You could even double the recipe and layer it or make a sheet cake. It can be served at the end of a holiday meal, snacked on mid-afternoon, left for Santa, frozen for you to find in the middle of February, wrapped up and given as a gift, or delivered to a birthday lady in the middle of a pandemic. No matter the occasion and regardless of whether you’re vegan and gluten-free, this might just be the only Gingerbread Cake recipe you’ll ever need.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Gingerbread Cake {Vegan, Gluten-Free}
makes one 8- or 9-inch square or round cake

1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2/3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
3 tbsp pure pumpkin purée or unsweetened applesauce
1 1/3 cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal)
6 tbsp cup potato starch
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

For finishing:
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square or round pan. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Pour apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add almond milk until liquid reaches the 1 1/4 cup mark. Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until curdled. Stir in pumpkin purée (or applesauce). Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together blanched almond flour, potato starch, cornstarch, light brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add liquid ingredients in two installments, whisking until combined.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth to the edges with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Transfer to the oven and bake 32-34 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with only a few crumbs (no batter).

Let cake cool completely in its pan on a cooling rack. Run a thin knife along the edges of the pan before inverting to release onto a platter (alternatively, you may keep it in the pan and serve from there). Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top before serving, if desired.

Slice and serve. Flavors will intensify the day (or several hours) after baking.

Cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days and refrigerated for up to 4. Plain cake may be triple-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Gingerbread Cake {Vegan & Gluten-Free}