32 thoughts on “P&Q: Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake

  1. Was is just me, or is the frosting supposed to be visibly “grainy”? It didn’t seem to mix completely “smooth”. Tastes great though! I might make it again, I hurried through it…. I might even be brave enough to attempt the Tartine!

  2. I’ve been a part of the group for a few months now and haven’t seen my blog on the blogroll or any other blog participant lists. Do I need to do something to get it there that I’m not already doing?

  3. I made this cake for Christmas Eve (my mom’s birthday). We’ve made so many dense dark chocolate desserts that I baked the cake layers with just the cocoa powder, omitting the optional melted chocolate. My pans were not 2″ deep, but my cake didn’t rise enough to be a problem. The layers baked up nice and level, so I didn’t have to trim anything before assembling the cake. I’ll confess that I used a different frosting, though. To me this was a really good lighter-chocolate cake.

  4. Okay, so the consensus on the frosting so far is, do it? or not do it? I forgot the malt powder when at the grocery. I believe I have all other ingredients..

  5. Going to make this today. I read the comments about the graniness. I only have chocolate malt powder, so I’ll be using that. If it seems grainy, I’ll put it in a plastic bag and run a rolling pin over it, or run it through the FP so see if that helps.

  6. I was thinking about a using a chocolate ganache frosting instead — just because I love ganache! The malt powder could be dissolved in the cream before you pour it over the chopped chocolate — no graininess! I think I’ll give it a try…

    By the way, the cake batter recipe is the same as the one for Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes we made for Halloween in 2008.

  7. Ok a couple of things:

    1) MaryAnn – do you have the recipe for that frosting? if so, can you post a link?

    2) I just finished making this, the cake is cooling and the buttercream is a disaster. I don’t think the graniness is from the malt powder as I smashed mine up pretty good. I think it’s from the brown sugar mixed with the chocolate. The melted chocolate was very grainy, then when I added the malt mixture it almost seized up on me :( I ended up adding an ADDITIONAL 1 1/4 cups to the icing and it’s still pourable, like a cake batter.


    I put the icing in the fridge to see if it will set up better, but it was still grainy and I’m not sure I want to use it at all. Could ruin a perfect tasty cake.

    Did anyone else have this icing problem?

    • Amanda – yes the chocolate mixture seized up – but more into a “ball” after mixing in the malt powder. It wasn’t pourable, but I mixed it into the frosting by taking clumps of it. (I’m not making this sound very delicious, am I)? It still worked but was a very odd recipe for frosting (or should I say “unique”).

      • Thanks Mike, glad to know it wasn’t just me. I agree, mine wasn’t pourable either, it was the frosting that was pourable, after all ingredients were in including an additional 1 1/4 cups of sugar. blah.

  8. I made this cake for my sister-in-law’s birthday in early December. The cake was pretty good, but tasted a bit floury or something. I’m not a huge fan of butter cakes or chocolate, so maybe that was it. My sis-in-law loved it though, which is what’s important. I used Dorie’s cream cheese icing instead of the malt one. It was okay, but I like more cream cheese flavour. That might have been weird with the chocolate, however. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll be making this, or another Dorie chocolate cake for her next birthday.

  9. Unfortunately this was a disappointment :( it’s edible, but horribly dry. At 26 minutes I checked the cake, but when pressed it didn’t spring back, so I left it in for 4 more minutes. Not sure if I overbaked it, but that’s all I can think of. The frosting didn’t work for me either. I ended up having to add over a cup more powdered sugar and it was just too sweet.

    Normally a chocolate cake would be devoured within a day or so here. This one was baked on the 1st, two days ago, and it’s still sitting here, only a few pieces eaten.

    I’m sure it was me, not Dorie’s recipe. I’ve always loved everything I’ve made, so I’m not sure what I did wrong on this one. I’ll bookmark it to try it another day.

    Dorie, if you happen to be reading this, and you see some of the frosting comments, do you have any helpful advice or anything in that regard?

    Happy New Year everyone : )

  10. I made an espresso frangelico pastry cream for inside the layer cake, then at the last second decided on cupcakes instead. I dont want a layer cake sitting around here since the tarte tatin is still on the counter. This way, I can take them to friends tonight. Cupcakes in the oven. Going to put a chocolate cream cheese frosting on top. Yum!

  11. My cake turned out wonderfully, but we used the chocolate frosting recipe on the back of a cocoa box instead. Just added 1/4 c. chocolate malt powder to it. This was the quintessential birthday cake!

  12. Amanda, I had the exact same experience! Cake didn’t seem done after 25 minutes, I let it bake about 4 minutes more and it ended up dry. Hardly any rise to the cake. Frosting was grainy, seized up when adding the liquid. Then it smoothed out, but was too loose to put on the cake. I added about a cup more of powdered sugar. I had such high hopes for this cake and was very disappointed. Wish I had made the tarte tatin instead! :(

  13. I made the frosting in August for my daughter’s birthday and it was a complete bomb! Ended up having to “frost” the cake with whipping cream. I had hoped to give it another try yesterday, but am unable to do so. I will try it next weekend, if possible, in honor of the group’s anniversary. I really appreciated hearing all of your perspectives on the cake and frosting.

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