Sunday, September 16th, is my oldest son’s birthday. However, Daniel lives across the world for me. I live in S. Korea, and he lives in Marietta, Ohio. He is 38 years old, and our lives have taken us across the globe from one another. Every year on his birthday, I am sure to send him a gift. I never forget him because he is so special. He always pleads with me not to send him anything because sending boxes is so expensive, but I never listen. This year, we made a compromise. I told him I would bake a birthday cake for him and then send him a blog about the birthday cake. He was satisfied because he didn’t want me spending a lot of money on him.
When Daniel was growing up, he got a birthday cake from me every year, and I would let him pick the kind he wanted. We lived all over the world together, and whenever I made him a birthday cake, it had to be from scratch because there are no American box mixes in places like Nigeria and Romania. The cake I made this time is a cake I have made for my kids many times. I like it because it is very basic. The ingredients are easy to find anywhere. When you travel a lot, you have to know these kinds of recipes, and this is a really good cake. The cake and the icing both are from scratch.
The ingredients for the cake are: sugar, cooking oil, flour, baking powder, eggs, milk, cocoa, and boiling water. One of the reasons I like to make this cake is because the ingredients are very easy to find.
The ingredients for the icing are: powdered sugar, butter, milk or water, and flavoring. Most recipes call for vanilla, and you can find vanilla everywhere, but I learned several years ago that if you can find almond flavoring, it is extremely good, so I used almond flavoring on this cake.
I began by preheating the oven to between 350 degrees to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. If you aren’t using an oven that uses Fahrenheit, it is 177-190 degrees Celsius, a moderate oven.
Next, I got out a big mixing bowl and began the cake. I Put two cups (450 grams) of sugar in the mixing bowl. After that, I added 1 cup (225 grams) of cooking oil. The nice thing about this recipe is that if you don’t have cooking oil at the moment, but have shortening or butter, you can substitute shortening or butter for the cooking oil. I mixed the sugar and the cooking oil together.
After that, I added a cup (225 grams) of milk (if you have no milk, use water). Next, I added two eggs. I mixed it all together with my wire whip. Next, I added a cup (225 grams) of boiling water. I mixed it all together.
Next, I added 3 1/2 cups (788 grams) of flour. I just put the flower on the top of the liquid, and I didn’t mix it yet. Next, I put a tablespoon of baking powder onto the flour, and I didn’t mix any of it yet. After that, I added 1/2 cup (113 grams) of cocoa, and I put it on top of the flour and cocoa. I used a spoon and just mixed the dry ingredients together on the top before I mixed them into the liquid. Most recipes say to mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, but I don’t like having so many dishes to wash, so I mix the dry ingredients in the same bowl as the liquid ingredients, and then I mix them together. If you have an electric mixer, it works really well to mix it for a few minutes with an electric mixer. However, in my travels, at times, I didn’t have a mixer, so I just mixed, and mixed, and mixed with a spoon or wire whip until everything was blended and it looked like cake batter. This time, though, I had an electric mixer. My only problem now is Korean kitchens are extremely small, and there are no electrical outlets close to the cabinet. I had to take my cake batter to the other room to use a plug and mix my cake.
After the cake is all mixed up, get out a pan or two. If you plan to use the regular sized cake pans, you will need two for this cake. However, since I plan on trying to write on the top of my cake, I want it as big as possible because I am not good at writing on cakes. I used a pan big enough to make pizza in, but also one that had sides on it like a cake pan. At this point, if I were in America, I would use solid shortening. I would rub it all over my pan with a paper towel. However, there is no solid shortening in Korea, and the cooking butter is not a good substitute because butter burns too easily. I use cooking oil, and I rub cooking oil all over the bottom and sides of my pan with a paper towel. If you don’t have a paper towel, use a napkin. If you don’t have a napkin or paper towel, you can make sure your hands are good and clean and rub it all over with your hand, and then wash your hands again afterward to get the oil off.
After I have put oil all over the pan, I dump some flour on the pan. I take it to the sink and work over the sink because I am going to make a mess. I start shaking the flour all over the pan. Part of the way through, I realize I don’t have enough, and I put some more flour on my pan, then go back to the sink. I just keep shaking until the flour covers the whole bottom and sides of the pan.
After that, I pour my cake batter into the pan. At this point, if there is a kid watching you, after you have poured the cake batter out of the pan, they will appreciate you handing them the pan so they can lick the excess cake batter out of the pan because it tastes good. I have a 24 year old daughter, and she still licks my mixing bowls when I bake.
Put your cake into the preheated oven. It will stay in there for 30-40 minutes. Take a break. Maybe you will want to wash your dishes in this time. After 30-40 minutes, check your cake. If you aren’t sure if it is done, tough the middle of it with your finger, push down slightly, and then let go. The cake should come right back up. Another way to know for sure is to take a fork and put the prongs in the middle of your cake, and then pull them out again. If they come out clean, your cake is done. People usually tell you to use a tooth pick to do this, but I never seem to have a tooth pick handy, so I use a fork. Take your cake out of the oven, turn the oven off, and let the cake cool.
If you don’t plan on leaving the cake in a pan, but serving it on a plate, you need to take it out of the pan while it is hot or it will stick to the pan. Put a plate upside down on top of your cake, then turn the cake upside down on a plate, and don’t forget your pot holders so you won’t get burned. If you do this while it is hot, the cake will easily come out of the pan. As for me, I don’t have much space, and my cake isn’t going to be put in the middle of my table on display because I don’t have a table, so I am leaving mine in the pan. If you are using the small pans, you will want to take both cakes out and put them on separate cakes or cooling wracks to cool.
While the cake is cooking, you will want to begin the icing. This is a very easy icing recipe. I began with 3 cups (675 grams) of powdered sugar. If you don’t have powdered sugar, you can make it. If you put regular white granulated sugar in a coffee grinder and grind it, it will come out powdered sugar. I add 1/3 cup of soft butter to the powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. I push the butter into the powdered sugar. Next, I added 3 tablespoons of milk. (If you live where it is hot, you will want to use water instead of milk because the icing will sour if the weather is too hot.) Next, I add the flavoring. If the flavoring your have is vanilla, it works. I used almond flavoring, and it wasn’t easy to find in Korea. However, vanilla flavoring is usually easy to find everywhere. Use 1 1/2 teaspoons of flavoring. Mix it all together until it becomes icing.
When your cake is completely cool, you can put the icing on your cake. If you are making a layered cake, you will want to first ice one layer, then put the other layer on top of it. After that, you will want to put icing on the sides of the cake, and then on top of the cake. I left mine in the pan and used a big pan, so I just put the icing on the top of my cake and spread it around to cover the cake. If you don’t want to write on your cake, you can stop here.
If you want to write on your cake, you will have to make more icing and you will need food coloring. I put 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar in the mixing bowl where I mixed the original icing. After that, I put 1/2 of 1/3 of a cup of butter in the powdered sugar. It seems that I am cutting the original icing recipe in half, but not exactly because I want this a little stiffer than the original icing. Next, I only put one tablespoon of milk or water and 3/4 of a teaspoon of flavoring (vanilla or almond). I mix it all around and make a little bit stiffer icing than what in already on the cake. Next, I add a little food coloring. I just put a drop. Remember, if you use liquid food coloring, that is more liquid to make the icing less stiff, but you want it stiff to decorate with. I actually have some actually decorator’s icing my oldest daughter sent me from America, and it doesn’t change the consistency of my icing. If you are using liquid food coloring, you may want to leave the milk out or cut the amount you use in half. After I add the coloring, I mix it around again. I chose just one color, purple.
Next, I get out a decorating bag, and the only tip I can find is a writing tip. I used to decorate cakes a lot, but I haven’t done it for a while, and I was never very good with writing on cakes. I used to make roses and all kinds of pretty things on my cakes, but I can’t find all my decorator’s tips any more. I am not going to explain how to decorate a cake in this blog. However, if you want to decorate a bit and don’t have a decorator’s bag, you can roll up waxed paper into a funnel shape like the decorator’s bag and tape it closed. I put the decorator’s tip in my bag and put it toward the end, then I cut the end of the bag off and put the decorator’s tip on down into the end of the bag. After that, I fill my bag with the icing, and I write on my cake.
I really didn’t decorate very well, but people don’t mind because the cake tastes great!! My 24 year old daughter is still there to lick the bowl. Usually, my son in law is the one always eating candy and sweets at our house, but my daughter went for the left over icing in the decorator’s bag and loved it! You will love this cake and icing too. Try it!