Faking a Fabulous Birthday Cake

A classic cake never goes out of style.  But sometimes you want something more fun than a ‘classic cake.’  That’s why I turned the salted caramel frosting in this dreamy cake pink.  A few drops of gel food coloring and we’re not just having a party, we’re having a P.A.R.T.Y.    
1 cup butter
2 cup sugar
4 whole eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom of four 8 inch cake pans.  Line each pan with a round of parchment paper and butter the parchment paper.  Set aside.  
Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add cocoa powder and whip until creamy.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the milk. Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients. 
Equally divide batter among four prepared pans and bake 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  
Salted Caramel Frosting
2/3 cup sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cups butter
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat sugar over medium heat.  When edges begin to turn brown, stir gently {only once or twice} with a wooden spoon.  Let the sugar continue to heat until all of it has turned into an amber syrup.  Remove from heat and quickly whisk in one tablespoon of cream.  The mixture will sputter and steam.  Be careful.  Continue whisking cream in a slow steady stream until completely incorporated.  Pour into a heatproof dish and let cool to room temperature.  
In the bottom of the heat proof bowl from a stand mixer, heat egg whites and remaining sugar to 160 degrees on a candy thermometer whisking often.  When the mixture reaches 160 degrees, attach the bowl to the stand mixer and whisk on medium high speed until the egg whites form a stiff peak.  Switch out to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until incorporated.  When all butter is incorporated, beat on high for 3-5 minutes.  Stir in room temperature caramel and beat on low until fully combined.  
Use immediately on cooled cake.  

I’m also not wild about trying to frost the whole cake.  I get really OCD crazy trying to make every angle of it perfect.  So I’ve take to just frosting the middle layers.  It calms my perfectionist tendencies and still looks cool.  Plus, you can lump loads of frosting in the middle layers which is dreamy.
1. Fill a piping bag, fitted with a large opening tip, and pipe a ‘bumper’ of frosting around the edge of the cake.  
2. Drop a spatula full of frosting in the center of the cake and spread evenly out to the edges with a offset spatula.  
photography by Brooke Clark

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