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While I love to experiment with different cake textures and flavors, the recurrent request in my house, especially when it comes to birthday requests, remains the ubiquitous butter cake. And though I suspect it must have something to do with the yummy melt-in-the-mouth factor, homemade butter cakes seem to charmingly convey the message “I made it myself” without actually having to say the words.

One step ahead of your regular vanilla butter cake, this stunning Almond cake, baked in a Bundt pan, has all the makings of a perfect birthday cake. It was my first and only choice when I started planning my mum’s birthday. “With almonds, almond extract, and almond liqueur all working together in this cake, there’s plenty of almond flavor for even the biggest almond fan.” I cannot help agreeing here with Jennifer from Bake or Break, even if I made the switch from liqueur to more extract. Other than the simple sugar glaze, this beauty needs nothing more a handful of toasted almonds on top to look pretty. My mum loved it so much that she did not want to share her cake with anyone 😛

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

3 tablespoons almond-flavored liqueur

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup full cream milk

For the Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 to 5 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon almond extract

Toasted sliced almonds, for garnish

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 10-cup or 12-cup Bundt pan. Whisk together the flours.

  • Add salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. Using electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter.

  • Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, beat well until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time.

  • Mix well after each addition. Add liqueur, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Reduce mixer speed to low.

  • Add the flour mixture in three portions, alternating with two portions of milk. Mix it just until combined.

  • Transfer the batter to the pan and spread evenly. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until the cake is golden brown.

  • A pick inserted into the center should come out clean. Cool the cake in pan on wire rack for 20 minutes.

  • Flip cake onto a serving plate and leave it to cool completely. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze.

  • Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons of the cream, and the almond extract in a bowl.

  • Add more cream, a teaspoonful at a time, until the glaze has the desired consistency, thick but pourable.

  • Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and garnish with toasted sliced almonds. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Happy Birthday Mama!

Like so many people out there, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. And because it is Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary [since the release of its first book and the start of my love story with the series] I had to bake a cake to celebrate the event. A tall, heavenly chocolate cake with the magical goodness of everything that makes chocolate cake that special something it is to everyone who loves birthdays and cakes. As soon as I saw this lovely chocolate cake on Diamonds for Dessert, I had my heart set on recreating it from scratch with the delicate pink icing and lopsided birthday wish scrawled carelessly across in green. The whole thing cannot help reminding me of the scene where Hagrid comes over to announce to an 11-year old Harry that he is wizard about to join Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

“Anyway — Harry,” said the giant, turning his back on the Dursleys, “a very happy birthday to yeh. Got summat fer yeh here — I mighta sat on it at some point, but it’ll taste all right.” From an inside pocket of his black overcoat he pulled a slightly squashed box. Harry opened it with trembling fingers. Inside was a large, sticky chocolate cake with Happy Birthday Harry written on it in green icing.” – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling

Harry’s birthday cake is also the first cake from the magical world we get introduced to, well before we hear of Bettie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, and many other strange sweets muggles like us can only dream about. So if you’re having a Harry Potter themed party, this is the perfect cake to have on your table though you could as well bake them into cupcake format, decorate them with the ‘Happee Birthdae’ message and give them away as party favors along with a couple of Hagrid’s rock cakes. And the magic lives on…

HARRY POTTER’S BIRTHDAY CAKE

For the Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/8 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kitchen salt

1 egg + 1 yolk, room temperature

3/4 cup fresh full cream milk

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup boiling water

For the Chocolate Frosting

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

3/4 cup cocoa powder

2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup fresh full cream milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Vanilla Frosting

3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

2 to 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar

1/6 cup fresh full cream milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Red and green food coloring

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • Stir in eggs one at a time. Add milk, oil, and vanilla extract and mix. Now add the boiling water.

  • Spray two round 9-inch diameter baking pans with nonstick spray. Pour batter in the two pans.
  • Place pans in oven and bake the cakes for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

  • Remove from oven and cool in pans for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  • When the cakes are totally cooled, slice them into half so you end up with 4 circular cake layers.

  • For the chocolate frosting, mix cocoa and powdered sugar together. Cream butter till it is fluffy.
  • Mix in 1/3 of the cocoa/sugar mixture to the creamed butter. Slowly, add about 1/3 of the milk.

  • Repeat this until all the cocoa powder, sugar, and milk are combined. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  • The frosting should be spreadable at this point. If it is not, add in more milk or sugar as needed.

  • For the vanilla frosting, cream butter. Mix in 1/2 of the powdered sugar and add 1/2 of the milk.
  • Repeat with other 1/2 of sugar and milk. Add vanilla extract. The frosting should be spreadable.

  • Now scoop out a portion of the frosting into a separate bowl, just enough for the frosting letters.
  • Add few drops of red food coloring to the remainder of the frosting and mix to get pink frosting.

  • In the other bowl, add green food coloring to get green frosting. Keep covered until ready to use.
  • To assemble, spread frosting on the first cake and smooth it out. Place another cake layer on top.

  • Dollop frosting and smooth. Repeat process with third layer of cake and top with final cake layer.
  • Press down to make sure it firmly sandwiched. Apply a crumb coat with the pink vanilla frosting.

  • Continue the crumb coat on the sides of the cake. Chill, then apply a second layer of pink frosting.
  • Place the green frosting in a piping bag and scrawl “Happee Birthdae Harry” on top of the cake.

Happy Birthday Harry!

Ever since the Tres Leches cake became my signature bake, I’ve had requests to make it for every single celebration I’ve been invited to. It, therefore, only made sense that I would do a Tres Leches cake on my own birthday but with a twist. While I remain convinced that the Tres Leches is best baked as a whole in a large pan, I was curious to see how the cupcake version would fare. The Kitchen Mccabe recipe makes 12 regular sized coconut cupcakes but I filled the batter into 7 jumbo muffin cases though I guess I overfilled them slightly to give them that puffed up, bakery-style look. I would admit that I did make the soaking process a tad more complicated so it would be probably best to fill them just up to 2/3 capacity to make way for the cakes to rise to the rim of the baking cups.

For the milk mixture, I swapped half the amount of heavy cream for cream of coconut so it should have been, on all accounts, a quarto leches cake but let’s not worry about that. While these were slightly more dense than my go-to recipe, they did manage to soak up most of the milk sauce without going soggy; I have a good mind to skimp on the butter next time to see if they turn out to have a more absorbent texture. Overall, my birthday cupcakes happened to be quite photogenic, exactly as I pictured them – with a swirl of whipped cream and a candied cherry on top!

TRES LECHES CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

For the Milk Mixture

1 14 oz. can condensed milk

1 12 oz. can evaporated milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cupcakes

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

8 tablespoons butter

1 cup fresh whole milk

4 eggs, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Cream Topping

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup shredded coconut

16 Maraschino cherries

Method:

  • For the milk mixture, pour condensed milk into a large, microwave safe bowl. Microwave 12 minutes.
  • Remove and stir at 3 minute interval. Stir in evaporated milk, heavy cream, coconut cream and vanilla.

  • For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two cupcake tins with regular cupcake liners.
  • In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Place butter and milk in a saucepan.

  • Heat on medium till the butter has completely melted. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs.
  • Add sugar and beat together till glossy and pale, for about 5 minutes. Add in half of the flour mixture.

  • Add in half of the milk mixture and mix in. Add in the remaining flour mixture and then milk mixture.
  • Mix until just combined. Divide the batter between the liners, make sure to keep them under half full.

  • If they are filled more than half full, the batter will overflow when cooked. Bake in the preheated oven.
  • Bake cakes for 12 to 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

  • Let cool for a few minutes, then poke a large amount of holes in each cupcake, using a wooden skewer.
  • The more holes, the more milk will be able to soak. Pour a few tablespoons of milk mixture over each.

  • Let each spoonful soak in before adding more. Divide the milk mixture evenly between the cupcakes.
  • Refrigerate the cupcakes and allow the milk to really soak into the cupcake, at least 3 hours or more.

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the shredded coconut in an even layer over a baking sheet.
  • Place the baking sheet on the top rack of the oven and watch closely. The coconut will brown quickly.

  • When most of the coconut is a light brown, remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Place heavy cream and 1/4 cup sugar in a mixing bowl and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.

  • Place the whipped cream in a piping bag and pipe a swirling of cream on top of each chilled cupcake.
  • Coat sides of  whipped cream with toasted coconut and top with a maraschino cherry. Serve chilled.

Happy Birthday to Me!

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PrerrnaMirchi
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