Saturday, September 30, 2017

Birthday cake for a musician!

We at A Book of Cookrye are super happy for a dear friend. She is entering her second decade of life, that sweet time when you haven't yet realized that you never stop aging. And so, upon my asking what she wanted for a cake, she instantly said "Chocolate!"
She later decided she wanted not cake but brownies, stacked and iced like a layer cake. And that deep and abiding love of chocolate and brownies is how you know she is a friend of mine.
I got out the brownie recipe I found handwritten in a 1920's cookbook because it really is so good. While I usually make Betty Feezor's also-delicious brownie recipe, a birthday justified the splurge for a lot of baking chocolate. Though today's recipe makes such a small amount that it needed doubling.
This is surprisingly legible and detailed for a note-to-self recipe in the back of a cookbook.

Borrowing a lesson from the Celebration Cake, we lined the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. It's like using wax paper, only you don't have wax melting into your hopefully-divine creations.
Check out that delicious oozy batter of chocolate divinity.

I asked someone more knowledgeable than I why you only line the bottoms of the pans and leave the sides bare. It turns out that if your cake/brownies stick to the pan, it's easier to cut around the edges than try to peel paper off the sides without taking chunks of cake with it. And indeed, the paper worked! Both pans of brownies fell right out with a satisfying whomph!

While I expected the brownies to fall apart as soon as I tried to lift and stack them, they were surprisingly sturdy. I genuinely thought they'd crumble into tiny fudgy pieces as I tried to get them in place on the plate. But as you can see, they were strong enough to withstand being carried on one hand.

And so, we tried to get these two pans of brownies to act like a layer cake. Two handy hints for anyone trying this at home: put a pretty decently thick layer of icing on the plate to more or less glue the cake in place, and have a lot of paper towels on hand for when you realize you utterly failed at keeping the icing off the plate. If you plan ahead, you can kind of forestall this whole problem by putting wax paper strips under the cake before you start slathering icing on it (which you counterintuitively pull out by the short end afterward), but I forgot to.
If you accidentally scrape the bottom of the cake bare as you wipe the plate, you can put icing in a baggie and squirt a border around the base.

And so, from one musician to another, we present... a decorated cake!
I and many other musicians will forever wonder why they decided to make the treble clef so fricken hard to draw.

For reference, that mess of dots and lines is supposed to look like this:

I sent this to another musician friend to see if the cake was legible to someone who didn't already know what it's supposed to say.
Incredibly, he could also read my icing cursive.

Indeed, that is the first line of "Happy Birthday To You," executed in icing. The notes were supposed to be purple, even if they didn't end up looking like it. The cake was just as delicious and heart-stoppingly divine as you think two layers of brownies clapped together with icing would be. However, the brownies spread a lot as they cooled, necessitating a lot of icing to make the cake have straight sides.

For those who are making a cake for someone really loves chocolate (whether it's yourself or someone else), you should definitely try making them a layer cake but with brownies instead.