a big birthday cake

May 4, 2008 |  Category:   baked goods + desserts


Along with my usual kitchen production this week I had a special request. Mia’s friend had his fourth birthday party over the weekend and I was asked to make the cake. It’s been a while since I have made a cake of this size, meant to serve up to 100 people. In restaurants I used to make cakes twice the size for all sorts of parties, but in a home kitchen it’s certainly a different story. The main issue is refrigerator space, which is always short in my house, and trying to fit in a half-sheet cake was quite a challenge. The actual cooking, filling and frosting is more manageable, even with two kids tugging at my legs begging for a taste of buttercream.

The cake itself is one of my absolute favorites. I suppose that if I ever open a bakery of some kind that this would have to be my signature. The best part is the filling, a dulce de leche cream, with a dulce de leche swirl for good measure. I first made it for M’s third birthday and have made it on many occasions since then. It works well with any combination of cake and frosting, and in this case a rich yellow butter cake with a bittersweet chocolate buttercream made up the layers. All the kids and grownups loved it, and even self-proclaimed cake critics (who isn’t?) claimed it was the best they have had. Such positive feedback makes me want to make more birthday cakes, maybe just a bit smaller next time.


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  • unha May 5, 2008 at 9:44 am

    you know, i may just have to ask you for cakes for special occasions around here from now on!

  • Lara May 5, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Oh man, you’re killin’ me.

  • Lani May 5, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Are you taking orders for mother’s day cakes? 🙂

  • Ann May 5, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    I have a great buttercream recipe that include eggs. They are combined with a hot syrup- does this cook them or are they considered raw?

  • Mark May 5, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Ann, the eggs are in fact cooked by the hot syrup. My buttercream is probably similar to yours, it is a typical Italian buttercream made by mixing butter into an Italian meringue. The eggs are considered safe to eat if their temperature exceeds 165 degrees, the temperature at which salmonella bacteria are killed, and the 250 degrees to make an Italian meringue is more than enough for that.

  • Ann May 6, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Thanks Mark! I feel better about serving this to the kids now.