Have you ever wondered why you get a cake on your birthday each year? It is believed that the first actual birthday cake was made in Germany in the Middle Ages. Cakes were made for children on their birthdays, which was called Kinderfest. Cakes first started off as bread-like products, and later became the sweet version we know and love today (Pro Flowers). Ever since I was young, cake has been my favorite part of my birthday celebration.
First, take out butter to soften and preheat your oven to 350°F. Make sure your oven isn’t too high because it could cause the cake to set too fast (BHG). For this recipe, one 9×13 inch pan or two 9 inch pans are preferred. If you used a different size, your cake could end up overflowing while baking in the oven or not bake thoroughly. Be sure to grease your pans thoroughly with butter or baking spray. If you forget this step, your cake would end up sticking to the pan and it would be hard to get it out.
Next, grab your ingredients: ½ cup of soften butter, 1 ½ cups sugar, 3 large eggs, 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder, 1 ¼ cups whole milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. These ingredients could be found at any local supermarket or grocery store. First, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to beat the soften butter and sugar together until they are fluffy and light. When you beat butter with sugar, the water in the butter starts to dissolve the sugar while air is trapped as tiny bubbles in the fat (GoodFood).
Slowly add in the 3 large eggs until the mixture looks creamy and is a pale yellow. If the mixture isn’t smooth and consists of bumps, it will end up having a weird texture when baked. Beat in the flour, salt and baking powder at a low speed, followed by the milk and and vanilla. Beat everything together on low for 30 seconds, and then on high for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Afterwards, immediately divide the batter into your prepared pans before putting into the oven.
Make sure to leave an inch above the pan so the dessert doesn’t overflow over the sides while baking. Bake in the oven between 25 to 30 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. The baking soda and liquids react together to cause air bubbles to form. The heat from the oven also causes more air bubbles and sets the structure for the cake (BHG). Remove the cake from the oven and leave it sit to cool for at least 15 minutes. If you do not let it cool, the cake will end up sticking to the sides of the pan.
Flip each pan over and gently tap the bottom until the cake comes out smoothly. By greasing your pans at the beginning, the cake should easily come out of the pan and not stick. If they have baked thoroughly, the sides of the cake should have shrunk back and they should fall right out of the pans. After your cake completely cools, you could frost it with either store bought frosting or make some yourself.
Personally, I prefer homemade buttercream. Gather your ingredients: 1 cup softened butter, 3 ½ cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 to 2 teaspoons heavy cream. Make sure to sift the powdered sugar so there are no clumps. Let your butter sit out 30 to 60 minutes so it has time to soften. In a bowl, use a mixer to beat the butter on medium for a few minutes or until it is smooth.
Turn the mixer on low and slowly add in the 3 cups of sugar. Afterwards, increase the speed to medium-low and mix until combined. With the mixer back to low, add in the liquid ingredients and mix until everything is combined. Once everything is incorporated, mix on medium until it is smooth and creamy. With the rest of your sugar, slowly add it in until the buttercream is as firm as you would like it to be.
Make sure your cake is completely cooled before spreading on your frosting. If it is not cooled the cake could end up sticking to the frosting and would cause a mess. Make sure your frosting is also room temperature because it could end up curdled (Ny Times).
Like any annual tradition, things are not done exactly the same in every family. There are many different recipes for birthday cakes. Though it takes a long time to create, it is one of the most enjoyed part of a birthday celebration.