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A tall cake for the tall birthday boy

I have three younger brothers:

  • the first one is a year younger than I (more on him later)
  • the middle one has the same birthday as I do, only six years later (I think this is why we can get along the best when things are on the up and up– because we share the same kind of interests and for the most part have similar qualities. On the flipside, we also have the worst kind of fights.)
  • the youngest one is my sweetie pie, because he is the sweetest little boy I know

I’d be lying if I said we all got along perfectly fine, but I’d also be lying if I did not admit that a big reason why I love my life is because of these three doofuses. I’ve talked about my middle brother before because we inevitably make joint decisions on birthday cakes given that we share the same birthday, but today let us focus on brother number 1.

It was his birthday last Saturday, and of course I made him a cake. After singing him his birthday song, I let him cut the cake and he went, ‘Whoa! This is a tall cake!’

So I told him, as if I did it on purpose, ‘Well, your cake is supposed to be as tall as you!’

Let me tell you something about this birthday boy: He is a darling. All six feet and three or four inches of him may at first look kind of intimidating, but inside he is really a teddy bear just waiting to come out. This is probably the same discovery people make about him, which is why he has even more friends than I do. He is a bit of an Einstein, geeky but endearingly so, and although he spends a lot of time in front of the computer (he is a computer whiz, after all) he finds a way to be there when you need him.

My brothers and I do this little sibling meeting sometimes and he provides the comic relief for when we’re all getting tense about a certain subject. I have to be honest, I can’t imagine my life without any of my brothers– and him especially since he’s been there right from the beginning, being born a year after me and all.

There is this photo of us as wittle kids, toddlers really, where I have practically deformed his face squeezing him so tightly into a hug. Sometimes I wish I could still do that, but even being as tall as I am at 5 feet 10, I only stand up to his shoulder. And shoulders are not something you can wrap your arms around and squeeze without hurting yourself.

There is really just one thought in my head at this point as I stare at the photo, ‘My goodness, time really flies by fast!’ I can’t even remember the time he was this little; let alone I was this little! Time is such an odd thing to grasp.

Happy 20th birthday, Kev!

This is my first yellow cake, and it certainly will not be the last. I just have a teensy issue with this particular recipe: It came out a little too dry. I do think it is because I over-baked it, since I followed everything else except for the baking time. I must’ve went about 15 minutes past the instructed time because the middle of my cake layers weren’t baked through. I should have squeezed both my pans into the centre rack together (I later found out they fit) instead of going two layers in the oven. The heat did not circulate evenly I suppose.

In any case, I still recommend this cake, because it tastes absolutely fantastic! The yellow cake has such great flavour, and coupled with the slightly sour, slightly tangy, deliciously chocolatey frosting, it tasted just perfect. Just don’t go over-baking now!

Yellow Layer Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

This yellow cake has such great flavour. Coupled with the slightly sour, slightly tangy, deliciously chocolatey frosting, it tasted just perfect. Just don’t go over-baking now!

Makes one 2-layer 9-inch round cake


For the cake

  • makes two 9-inch cakes at 2-inches thick
  • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons, 480 grams cake flour (not self-raising flour)
  • 2 teaspoons 10 grams baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon 5 grams table salt
  • 2 sticks, 1 cup, 1/2 pound or 225 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups 400 grams sugar
  • 2 teaspoons 10 mL pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, 475 mL, well-shaken

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

  • makes 5 cups of frosting, or enough to frost and fill a two layer 9-inch cake
  • 15 ounces 425 grams semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons instant espresso or instant coffee powder, optional
  • 2 1/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature *
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup light corn syrup, according to taste **
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


Make the cake layers

  • 1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. Alternately, butter and evenly flour your pans, remembering to tap out the excess flour.
  • 2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • 3. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
  • 4. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined. The mixture will look curdled. Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.
  • 5. Spread the batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pans on the counter several times to eliminate air bubbles.
  • 6. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.*** Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert the cakes onto the rack and discard parchment (if used), then cool completely before frosting, about 1 hour.

Make the frosting

  • 7. Combine the chocolate and espresso powder, if using, in the top of a double-boiler or in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and let chocolate cool until tepid.
  • 8. Whisk together the sour cream, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup and vanilla extract until combined. Add the tepid chocolate slowly and stir quickly until the mixture is uniform. Taste for sweetness, and if needed, add additional corn syrup in one tablespoon increments until desired level of sweetness is achieved.
  • 9. Let cool in the refrigerator until the frosting is a spreadable consistency. This should not take more than 30 minutes. Should the frosting become too thick or stiff, just leave it out until it softens again.

To assemble

  • 10. You may want to trim the tops of your cake layers a bit to make sure they are level, but it’s all right if you don’t. Place one layer cut-side up and spread about a cup of the frosting evenly on top. Place the other cake layer cut-side up and apply a little pressure to allow the two layers to stick together.
  • 11. Place half of the remaining frosting on top and evenly spread to crumb coat the whole cake. This will help in sealing in cake crumbs that might later on mess with the appearance of your cake. Place the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes to let the coating set. Return the remaining frosting in the fridge as well, taking it out about 10 minutes ahead of time to soften.
  • 12. Cover the cake with the remaining frosting, smoothing it out with an offset spatula. Decorate as desired. Serve cake slightly soft, with the icing slightly softened and creamy.
  • Storage: The cake will last for about a week stored in an airtight container in the fridge.


* Make sure the sour cream is at room temperature so that the chocolate will not for chunks once you pour it in. Otherwise you will have chocolate chip bits in your frosting.
** I used only 1/4 cup. It gave the chocolate and sour cream a lot of space to shine, but then again I have a low tolerance for sweet things. Taste and adjust accordingly.
*** To avoid over-baking and ending up with dry cake, try to bake both cake pans in the centre rack of your oven, rotating them front-to-back and vice versa halfway through the baking time. If they do not fit, bake each cake layer one at a time instead.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen blog
I think I officially like yellow cakes a lot better than white ones. I couldn’t keep away from this even though I found it dry and slightly crumbly, mostly because it tastes really good. Kev doesn’t seem to care about the texture much either because he says it’s yummy anyway (he pretty much eats and appreciates everything I bake). I probably wouldn’t have believed it had I not craved for and consumed several slices of this myself. And I’m not even a cake person.


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