I realize that the price for spending my birthday away from civilization is that I'm going to have to make my own birthday cake. To be fair, I should add that if it were important to me, Husband Guy would figure out a way to make cake appear on my birthday with no effort on my part wherever we were, but I'd rather just make myself a really good cake - I guess I'm sort of weird that way.
I had been wanting to try a chocolate cake with salted buttercream frosting. But I wanted it to be as simple as possible, and small since there were only 2 of us to eat it (and we would finish whatever size cake I made, believe me). After wandering around Tastespotting a while, I stumbled onto not only a pretty picture of moist looking chocolate cake, but the words "ridiculously simple" and "foolproof" and I soon knew that this was going to be the cake. Stir n Frost from scratch! Always a fan of a good oxymoron, the mere concept of this cake was way too intriguing not to try.
But that buttercream idea: I was stuck on it. I already had a little jar of salted caramel sauce Husband Guy hadn't been able to resist on a recent visit to our neighborhood fancy-schmancy market and I was determined to use it somehow.
I found a couple good looking recipes online for salted caramel buttercream, but Husband Guy suggested that the little extra tang of a cream cheese frosting might be the perfect thing to compliment all that caramely salty sweetness.
Yeah. This is a man who knows his cake.
So instead of looking further I just sort of invented a salted-caramel cream cheese buttercream. Buttercream frosting isn't rocket science - that's one of the reasons I love it so. Well, that and, er, butter.
I mean, duh.
This is basically Beth Dunham's recipe for Cockeyed Chocolate Cake (from the awesome-sounding 1960 I Hate to Cook Book) except I had forgotten to bring oil so I melted butter in its place, and I changed up the topping part at the end. Husband Guy calls it Crazy Cake. I still call it Stir n Frost. Whatever you call it, oh man, this cake is yummy.
CRAZY CAKE: THE BIRTHDAY VERSION.
Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9" square cake pan. Gather together the following ingredients:
1-1/2 C sifted flour
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
1 C sugar
1/2 t salt
5 T melted butter
1 T white vinegar
1 t vanilla extract
1 C cold water
Sift the dry ingerdients directly into the greased cake pan. Tap the sides of the pan so the ingredients settle into a flat layer. Use your fingers to make 3 grooves in the sifted dry ingredients. Pour melted butter into one groove, vinegar into another, and vanilla into the other. Pour cold water over the whole thing and combine with a fork. Keep stirring until the mixture is lump-free. Bake at 350F at the center of the oven for 25 minutes.
If you don't have a pre-made salted caramel sauce like I did, while your cake bakes I'd suggest making this one, or this one, or this one, or just go here and find a new favorite, but hurry because you've got a cake baking!
After baking for 25 minutes, remove the cake from the oven and while it is still hot, spread salted caramel sauce over the top. I used all but 1/4 C of a 7-oz. jar on mine. Return the cake to the oven and continue to bake for 5 more minutes until the sauce has melted into all the cracks, crevices, and weak spots and gotten a little chewy-gooey around the edges.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting. Try to keep Husband Guy's fingers off the cake while it cools. If he's not at your house when you're making it, you'll be fine - just let it cool then.
1/4 C (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/4 C cream cheese, at room temperature
2 C powdered sugar
1/4 C salted caramel sauce
Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high (I used a hand-mixer because that's what we have at the cabin!) until fluffy. Reduce speed and slowly add powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it's fully incorporated. If you're using a hand mixer, try not to blow powdered sugar all over the kitchen like me. I suppose this would be good advice whatever mixer you're using. Add salted caramel sauce and beat on medium-high until it's super light and fluffy and looks like irresistable frosting!
When your cake is cool, spread with this frosting and dive in. Birthday candles optional (I forgot to pack them). I had originally planned on sprinkling a little sea salt on the top right before serving, but I forgot, and it was perfect anyway.
This cake - ehrmagerd, this cake. It really is foolproof. And so good. We ate the entire birthday version at the cabin, and since coming home I've already made the original version with that awesome coconut crumble. I was short on white flour so substituted whole wheat pastry flour for part of it, and it was still really good. See? Foolproof. Sorry, no photos of that one - but it looked pretty much just like this for like a minute, then we ate it.
Be warned: this is a dangerous cake. Dangerously simple to make, and dangerously simple to finish.