12 February 2012

Bake me a cake.

I was sick of this cake before I even had a proper slice of it. There was nothing wrong with how it tasted (quite the contrary, in fact); it was simply that I spent so much last-minute effort thinking through and executing the cake--including tasting bits of it at every stage of its creation--that by the time it was completely assembled, I thought I might actually begin to cry sugar tears. Those nibbles managed to induce sugar and chocolate overload.
But I was happy with how my birthday gift to myself turned out. It was indeed my birthday yesterday and yes, I prefer to bake my own birthday cake. I don't even care much for celebrating this particular day, which is a stark contrast to how I treat my loved ones' birthdays (i.e., gleeful opportunities to shower them with the huge love I bear); I am simply accustomed to associating birthdays with the presence of a cake, probably because my mother always insists upon it. She actually offered to bake me a cake this year, recognizing the obvious lack of vegan-friendly bakery services around here. Although appreciative of her kind gesture, I politely declined. I opted to spend the first part the day doing something I generally enjoy, if not love: taking over the kitchen and turning it into my own little cave of creativity. This delightful article, which happened to catch my eye exactly one month prior to my birthday, illustrates a similar sentiment with regard to what the author calls an "unconventional task" (baking one's own birthday cake). An "over-the-top, in-your-face type of cake" sounded like a fine alternative to the more casual, cake-for-the-sake-of-cake approach I would probably have taken if I hadn't suddenly felt inspired toward something a little more decadent.
The outcome wasn't particularly extraordinary or novel. After all, it is not unusual to pair chocolate and hazelnut. The entire process--from baking to assembly--wasn't even difficult to complete, although I will admit that it was time-consuming. I doubled a slightly adapted version of a standard "wacky cake" recipe, (which yields a moist, traditionally vegan chocolate cake), splitting the cake into four even layers. For the filling, I used an adapted version of the Mocha Hazelnut Mousse from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, omitting the espresso and emphasizing the hazelnut flavor with additional hazelnut liqueur and hazelnut butter. Hazelnut buttercream (adapted from this recipe, using plain hazelnut butter and a few splashes of hazelnut liqueur) provided the exterior frosting, which also acted as a glue for the dark chocolate shards inspired by this cake. A generous pile of candied hazelnuts completed the decoration and added a delightfully nutty crunch to this hazelnut-laden cake fortress.
I've come a long way since the first chocolate birthday cake I baked for myself a few years ago. While both were scrumptious (and believe me, there is plenty of yesterday's epic creation leftover, despite my best efforts to serve my family over-sized hunks of it), this year's cake is definitely a step up.
I will gladly avoid chocolate after the final crumbs of this cake are gone...at least for awhile.

17 comments:

  1. happy belated birthday! and that cake looks GORGEOUS.

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  2. Wow, well it's stunning either way. And Happy Birthday!

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  3. happy birthday, tiffany!  and that chocolate cake is absolutely breathtaking.  way to treat yourself!

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  4. Teresa Affectioknit2/12/12, 6:02 PM

    Gorgeous cake!!!  Happy Birthday!

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  5. Such a beautiful cake, Tiffany! And I'm sending you my (belated) birthday wishes! Hope you had a lovely day - and thanks for showing us your stunning cake :-) 

    Oh, and I'm sure you won't be able to avoid chocolate for too long after this. Chocolate always finds a way back. Always (why is that!?).

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  6. This is so wonderful. Chocolate hazelnut is definitely one of my favorite combinations, though I have lately been on an almond streak. 
    I have been dreaming about my birthday cake lately as well. I saw some beautiful chocolate transfer sheets that I might splurge on for myself!

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  7. lynn_eva_barber2/13/12, 7:16 PM

    Holy yummers! I love wacky cake--it's always so moist.

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  8. Oh wow! Happy birthday! And...can you come and bake my birthday cakes, too?

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  9. Julia Molstead2/14/12, 4:43 AM

    wow! this cake is gorgeous! it's only 6:41am where I am, but if there was a piece of this in my house I know what I'd be having for breakfast. Hah! ;) Happy belated birthday.

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  10. Damn, girl! Happy happy birthday! This is one ridiculously gorgeous cake, my friend. Candied hazelnut and chocolate shards?! Absolutely beautiful. You should be super proud :)

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  11. happy belated birthday Tiffany! that is a really gorgeous cake.
    I'm also all for celebrating friends' and loved ones' birthdays but when it comes to my own I'd rather have it simple. But your post inspired me to consider making my own cake this year. perhaps ....:)

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  12. This. Is. Amazing.


    Kirstiie @ House of VeganHouse of Vegan blog:http://houseofvegan.wordpress.com/Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/House-of-Vegan/244184852329524 Tribe of Mannequins blog:http://tribeofmannequins.wordpress.com/Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tribe-of-Mannequins/199696716792980Twitter pagehttps://twitter.com/#!/KirstiieKam

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  13. Happy Birthday and that is a beautiful cake! I adore baking for myself and prefer it that way, I think (or hope!) more people bake their own cakes than popular culture admits :-)

    My birthday is next week and I think I am going to make a walnut cake (with French walnut oil) and maybe vanilla or apricot icing for a Middle Eastern flair.  

    Enjoy your cake!!

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  14. Happy Birthday! Beautiful looking cake! what a great way to treat yourself! :-)

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  15. i am loving the chocolate shards! i'm trying desperately to find a reason, any reason, to make it.

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  16. fallen from flavour2/20/12, 5:20 AM

    this is just a little note to let you know that i really enjoy reading your blog, and have a little award waiting for you. 

    if you're time-pressed and hate the idea of having to follow these 'rules', or if you're stridently anti-award, please don't feel obligated to respond. 

    i'm just letting you know that your 
    blog is among those i like best!

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  17. Belated wishes. Lovely cake. Happy to follow u
     

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