A Birthday Cake Masterpiece

By: Kirsten Vala
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When I asked Sarabeth Levine, author of Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours and our neighbor here in Chelsea Market, if she wanted to contribute a cake recipe to Devour in honor of Cooking Channel’s birthday, I pictured an everyday, quick and easy cake. What she delivered, her Chocolate Truffle Cake Recipe, she describes as an “edible masterpiece,” and I have to agree.

As an ambitious baker (remember the croissants Sarabeth helped me tackle?), this recipe makes my heart skip a beat. It holds so much promise, uses techniques I never dreamed of and the final product is absolutely beautiful and professional-looking. This cake isn’t messing around – it’s a weekend project that will make an amazing dessert for a very special occasion. Like a birthday. . .

Here’s how Sarabeth makes what could be an ordinary cake, extraordinary:

  • Ditch the dome.
  • Cakes baked in traditional cake pans have a domed top when baked, making them difficult to stack. Sarabeth bakes her layer cakes as one big cake using a standard 13x9-inch half-sheet pan lined with a silicone mat (these two pieces of baking equipment are invaluable for any kitchen, whether you’re making cakes, brownies or cookies). Then precise, flat-topped cake rounds are cut from the larger cake.

  • Construct it like a pro.
  • This cake gets constructed inside an 8x3-inch metal cake ring (I’ve always wanted to use one of these!). You add layers of cake and filling, gently pushing down after each addition and chilling at the end, before removing the cake ring.

  • Layer on the flavor.
  • As the cake is constructed Sarabeth adds layer after layer of flavor. The cake itself is orange-spiked, and it gets brushed with orange syrup, then layered with whipped dark chocolate ganache and finally, the cake itself is topped with a shiny chocolate glaze.

    Now go get baking!

    Catch up with Sarabeth Levine and get more of her amazing recipes on her blog, Goddess of Bakedom. And check out her cookbook, Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours.

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