The Birthday Cake You Didn't Know You Wanted

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Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for foods I want to eat.  This particular cake was one of those.  I don't remember waking up and writing it but I looked at my phone two weeks ago and there was a note that just said "potato chips in between layers of cake."  When I saw that, all my self-doubt about my intelligence levels left me and I experienced a moment of profound self-confidence.  I'm sharing this recipe so that you can also experience that moment.

 this totally is a drunk food birthday cake.

this totally is a drunk food birthday cake.

Here's an interesting anthropological fact.  A lot of people don't seem to like cake because they think cake means a sheet cake from the grocery store which has disgustingly sugary frosting and basically no flavor.  This is a different cake genre.  This cake is the voice of its generation.  Or at least the voice of some generation.

When I was growing up, my mom used to always make me an ice cream cake for my birthday.  She would buy vanilla ice cream and mix the leftover Christmas candy canes into it for a very pleasing pink peppermint situation.  The crust was always made of brownies, which, by the way, when frozen are impossible to cut.  Anyway, for a long time I thought I didn't like cake either, but then I realized that was a stupid thing to not like and I got my act together and started liking cake and now I'm a better person.

 bite to the face

bite to the face

I made myself this cake for my 21st birthday this weekend.  You might think it is weird/sad/depressing that I made my own birthday cake but you are INCORRECT.  Here's why.  I am very blessed to be surrounded by people who went overboard celebrating me so it seemed only appropriate for me to thank them by filling their bellies with a totally over the top cake.  This cake is my food vocabulary for "Thanks for loving me so much, I love you, too."  And, really, we should all say that more often.

 cake damage is the best kind of damage

cake damage is the best kind of damage

The chips in here might seem like overkill but I can assure they are most certainly not.  I am a big advocate for the crunchy element in any food, and cake is often guilty of missing this element so I've solved that international issue by putting fried things on my cake!  Woohoo!!

 A tower of chocolatey love.

A tower of chocolatey love.

Chocolate Buttermilk Potato Chip Birthday Cake

adapted from Joy The Baker

  • 2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup flour (all purpose)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk (full fat, people)

Preheat oven to 350.  For a full 3 layer cake, I split this recipe between 3 9-inch circular pans.  Alternatively, you can bake them in a half sheet pan and cut the shapes you want, which is what I did for the photos above.  Both are excellent, but the ladder left me with a lot of scraps.  Take your pick.

Cream butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes until very fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs one by one, mixing for a minute in between each egg.  Add vanilla and beat.  Make sure the bowl is scraped.

Combine dry ingredients with a whisk and then add to bowl with butter mixture.  Mix until combined, then add the buttermilk.  Beat on low until just combined, then up your speed to about level 5 for a minute.  Whip it real good.

Transfer to your preferred baking implement (greased and lined with parchment paper because cake insurance is just as important as health insurance [untrue]) and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a fork comes out clean from the middle.

Let your cake and your jets cool completely.  Icing a cake takes calm.

Frosting

  • 1 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt (like Maldon)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup Ovaltine Powder (this is Joy's secret and I give her full credit because it's unreal)
  • 2 cups crushed kettled cooked potato chips

Cream butter and cocoa powder until fluffy and combined.  For this process I suggest covering the sides of your bowl with a dish towel or risking a cloud of black cocoa powder all over your life and kitchen.

Add salt, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of whole milk to the mixture and continue mixing.  Scrape those sides again.  And the bottom.  Crap gets stuck to the bottom in these situations.

Combine remaining milk and Ovaltine in a liquid measuring cup and slowly stream into frosting, mixing until fully combined.

Ice fully cooled cake in two layers of frosting.  First layer should be thin and protect against crumbs.  Sprinkle potato chip crumbs in between each layer, and then spread on the top or sides of finished cake and cover the outer layer in a thicker layer of frosting. 

Bask in your own glory. Now, share.

 arguably the best part (butter and sugar all creamed up)

arguably the best part (butter and sugar all creamed up)