Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Little birthday cake history and lore. . . and a recipe!

So I went on a hunt for cake lore since I decided I was going to post the yummy cake and frosting recipes here for you to enjoy. I googled, of course and the first draw was actually a bakery called Cake Lore. . . cool, but not what I was looking for! I did get pointed in the right direction by a facebook friend to a site on food timelines. The term Birthday cake was not used in early cookbooks until 1870 and the phrase Happy Birthday did not start appearing on birthday cakes until 1910 when that song we all sing was written! Even decoration of cakes the way we recognize them now did not occur until professional bakers began to spring up!

Apparently the use of colored candles for birthday cakes may be connected to a German tradition called Kinderfest that dates back to the 15th century. I thought it was interesting because amongst the beliefs they held about children and birthdays is that children were most susceptible to attack by evil spirits on the day of their birth. All the adults would gather around the child and stand vigil over the cake's candles until it was evening and time to enjoy the cake. This custom was brought over by immigrants I am gathering. So, we can all thank the Germans for wax on our cakes I guess.

Here is the recipe I chose to use for my son's birthday cake. It had to be chocolate. . . it seems that he has a sweets spot for chocolate everything! In keeping with magic traditions be sure you are grounded and have nothing but sweet thoughts and wishes. If you have any cooking/ baking chanties I encourage you to use them as you are baking.

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1.) preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour pan(s) ( if you are going to layer it use two 9"round pans. I used a 9x13" pan.

2.) in a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanill; mix for two minutes on mediun with your mixer. Add the boiling water last. The batter will be very thin, no worries though it adds a velvety texture to the cake. Pour in evenly into your pans if using two.

3.) the directions say 30-35 minutes and test with a toothpick. my oven took 40 minutes to bake completely. You may want to try 30 and see where you get there. Cool in pans for about ten minutes and remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Frost when completely cool

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
8 oz cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
1TBS vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
2TBS evaporated milk

1.) Have all ingredients at room temperature. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.

2.) In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Pour melted chocolate into cream cheese and mix until completely blended. Add vanilla, evaporated milk and a pinch of salt. Slowly add powdered sugar one cup at a time. refrigerate until ready for use.

Be aware this is a very rich cake so small pieces are advised. Enjoy!


  1. Sounds and looks yummy! Yes, all birthday cakes have to be chocolate in our house too, Witchlet One is a confirmed and unashamed chocoholic. I hope the birthday celebrations went really well, and thanks for sharing the recipe (it's chocolate-based, so I am OBLIGED to try it!) x

  2. The cake in that picture looks amazing!!! :)