Our nephew Roman turned six yesterday. Mike and I moved back to Pittsburgh right after he was born, so we’ve had front-row seats to watch him grow up. It seems like just last week he was swaddled and drinking from a bottle. Now, he plays Angry Birds on my brother’s iPad and runs around the house with a light sabre telling me that “Jedi knights only need to sleep once a year, Auntie,” when I attempt to put him to bed.
Roman is a funny, intelligent lad who requested a chocolate cake with chocolate icing for his birthday. It’s an easy recipe, yielding a single layer cake that is good for smaller parties (we hosted Roman’s family party, with seven people in attendance, at it worked out very well). To complement our outer space theme, I also baked Planet Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and used some of the vanilla buttercream to decorate this cake.
For the Chocolate Cake (originally posted on 12/29/12)
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare the pan one of two ways: grease the bottom, line it with a circle of waxed paper, then grease the paper and the sides of the pan and flour well, or use Wilton Bake Easy! Nonstick spray. This time, I used the Wilton spray and it worked very well.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Add milk, shortening, and vanilla, beating on medium speed for two minutes.
Add egg and beat on medium speed for another two minutes.
Pour batter into prepared pan; it will be a light brown color and very fluffy in texture.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool cake on a wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan (if you desire) to cool completely.
For the Chocolate Almond Buttercream Frosting
- 8 tablespoons butter, softened to a texture like ice cream (not too soft)
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon almond extract
- 1 tablespoon milk
In a mixing bowl, beat butter for about 30 seconds.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Cover your mixer with a kitchen towel to prevent a powdered sugar/cocoa storm and set your mixer on low, beating until all the sugar and powder is incorporated into the butter; this takes a few minutes.
Add vanilla and beat for one to two minutes, then add the almond and beat for a few minutes, and finally the milk, beating for a few minutes. You want a very smooth, easily-spreadable texture.
Frost the cake according to your preferred frosting thickness; decorate as you like.