When you think of birthdays, do you think of cake? If you do, is there an ideal cake that comes to your mind? Do you like having the same cake every year? Some people love ice cream cakes, others cupcakes, others a specific kind of cake, others just want cake, but many of us have a special cake (or dessert) that they hope to have to celebrate their birthday.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Cream Frosting

My favorite birthday cake has changed over the years, but there is one birthday cake that rarely changed in my family. My grandfather and my mom shared the same birthday. It was always a special day for the two of them and he rarely failed to tell my mom that she was his best birthday present ever. My grandmother made them a very special cake for every birthday. This cake tasted so good, but we almost never had it for any other occasion. Perhaps because of this, it came to seem to me like the iconic birthday cake of my family.

This year for my mom’s birthday I decided I would try to recreate the cake for her. The cake itself is a dark, moist, chocolate cake, that would be great for cupcakes or with other frostings. This creamy, vanilla frosting is a bit unusual in that you cook part of it. As much as I like the frosting with this cake, I am not quite sure how it would be with another. These two together make such a great combination. My grandmother often decorated this cake with colored sugar or sprinkles. I happened to have some sugar daisies and used them. It was special and almost as good as my Gram’s. I am so pleased that I was able to recreate this one for my mom.

Dark Chocolate Cake with Cream Frosting
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This birthday cake has been a tradition in my family for years. The cake would be great as cupcakes or with other frostings. This cream frosting pairs beautifully with this cake.
Dark Chocolate Cake
  • 1¾ cups AP flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup boiling water
Cream Frosting
  • 3 Tbsp AP flour
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 6 Tbsp shortening
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
For the cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans or one 13x9 inch pan.
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together.
  4. Add eggs, milk, vanilla, and oil. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove batter from mixer and stir in the boiling water. The batter will be thin.
  6. Bake 30-35 minutes for layer cakes or 40 minutes for 13x9 inch pan.
  7. Cool in pan for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from pan and cool on wire racks.
For the frosting
  1. Whisk flour and milk together in a small saucepan. Cook slowly over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Cool slightly.
  2. Cream butter and shortening.
  3. Gradually add sugar to shortening mix and continue to mix for 4 minutes with a hand mixer.
  4. Add flour mixture and mix another 4 minutes.
  5. Add vanilla and mix to combine.
My Gram was always good about keeping track of who gave her recipes. This cake is credited to Margie Hinchliffe, her sister-in-law. The frosting is from Edna Bagley, a dear friend.

Get to know Kathleen MacArthur (78 Posts)

Kat has enjoyed baking and cooking for as long as she can remember. Her grandmother, Rita, was a great baker—especially of pies. Inspired by Rita, Kat began to be the one to bring dessert to family events. (Her grandfather, Stu, used to say that “Kat is bringing dessert” were some of his favorite words.) Often her family will hide the Christmas cookies she gives them when they have guests in the house. Her husband is a great tester of Kat Treats. When Kat is not baking or blogging, she works in higher education (but secretly dreams that some day she might open a treat truck or bakery/bookstore).

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