|Strawberry Basil Birthday Cake|
This is the cake I made for our little celebration last Friday with my first amie. I Googled 'The best white cake ever' to find a base recipe. Here it is. They were right. It is the best ever and I've tried many. But white cake is just that...white. That just won't do. Enter Basil, fresh from our very own garden that is lovingly cultivated by my 10 year old. You should've seen her face light up when I told her that her garden basil was the star of my friend's birthday cake! I made one and a half times the recipe so that I could have three 9" layers instead of two. If you want a wow cake, you must too. The taller the better.
|Basil Simple Syrup|
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c water
4-5 large, fresh basil leaves cut into a chiffanade (roll basil leaves lengthwise and cut into 1/8" strips)
Heat & stir over medium heat until all sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Cut each of the three cake layers in half horizontally so you have a total of six layers. Place the first cooled layer on serving plate and poke all over with sharp tipped knife, brush with syrup letting it soak in and make it's flavor magic.
|Basil cake layers are complimented with Darfur Strawberry Preserves & Vodka Greek Yogurt Frosting|
After brushing with basil syrup, spread with melted jam. I chose Darfur Strawberry Preserves. I like just enough to cover but not enough to ooze. You want enough to compliment without distracting..it's a delicate balance that is worth take your sweet time to find.
Top the first with the next layer and follow suit, stacking, poking, brushing & spreading each layer all the way to the top-leaving the final layer brushed with syrup but naked without jam.
My layers were not perfect. One of my the middle ones even lost a huge chunk of it's edge in the pan. Don't fret dearies-eat the broken pieces as a treat to the chef (that's you) and know that all the strawberry jam glue and yummy frosting to come will hide any flaws and make it all come together in summer cake perfection.
The frosting. The frooooooosssttttiiiiinnng. Isn't this the very reason why we crave cake in the first place? Cake is just a vessel to get the frosting to our awaiting lips right? I never follow a recipe for basic American buttercream frosting. I just add a touch here a taste there until it all comes together but I will give you basics as well as the creative secrets that I used to elevate the ordinary and make the eaters ooh & ahh and go back for more this time around.
My Favorite Buttercream
I started by creaming a 1/2 lb of cold butter until soft. I went all out with the fancy European kind by Plugra, but regular butter is just fine too. I then ended up using about 2/3 of a 1lb bag of powdered sugar and a couple of tbls of heavy cream. This whipped up in my Kitchenaid until it resembled frosting. That's how I always start. And then I get creative. For this I infused 1/4 c vodka with fresh chopped basil by simmering and reducing a bit. After letting it cool I strained it right into my frosting. Yum. But not yummy enough. It was tad too sweet and one note. A 1/4 c. dollop of Greek Yogurt did the trick. It all came together in the creamy, slightly tangy, lusciously sweet frosting that I had hoped for. The crown to my queen of a basil cake. I loved it. For a last little detail I covered the sides of the cake with unsweetened coconut flakes. Not the sticky yucky kind but the little organic shavings that taste like the real thing. I left the top uncoconutted for Lisa's hubby who is anti-coconut. I don't get it but I am willing to accommodate.
A friend at the birthday gathering who didn't say much while eating her piece, told me two days later that it was the best cake she had ever tasted and that she kept trying to remember a better one but came up with none. I will take that as my greatest cake compliment ever. Thank you Jill :)
Now for my far away friend with the approaching birthday. I must bake and send something, I just must. I am looking for something lovely & luscious & shippable. Something that will make her feel like she has a room full of love and an inpromptu birthday party in her honor. I will let you know what I come up with. And happy birthday to you when day comes around. May you feel adored and eat lots of cake.
Please share which friend you long to make a birthday cake for or who you'd love to eat one with. It's these simple little pleasure that make the world go round and I'd love to hear about yours!