My first cake of 2012 was my birthday cake, which was an exciting way to launch the project, but also carried with it some pressure. I started thinking about it over a month ago and even created a pin board on Pinterest for it. I had a lot of grand plans, which at one point included fondant snowflakes. But when it came down to it, I just wanted a great tasting cake that looked decent. I have a year to work on my decorating skills, but flavors are easier to master.
I decided on chocolate bacon, which a lot of people I initially told seemed horrified by. I’m not sure why. Bacon’s really having a moment right now. It being one of my favorite foods, why not throw it into the batter of the cake? My original plan for the frosting was to make maple buttercream. I thought it would complement the flavor of the bacon and chocolate nicely. But I didn’t plan far enough in advance and couldn’t find maple extract in time. After the third store I visited, I settled on almond buttercream. So that was the thought process behind it all.
Let’s make this cake! At the end of this insanely long post you’ll find the printable recipe and directions.
The first step is to make the bacon. And it’s gotta be crispy. So I Googled how to make crispy bacon and came across this article titled, How to Make Perfect Bacon. In summary, you line a cookie sheet with foil and place the bacon on top.
Place the pan into a cold oven and then turn it up to 400 degrees. (This is a perfect place to plug my tip post on oven thermometers.) Set your timer for 17-20 minutes and walk away. Come back and voila!
Place the bacon onto a paper towel lined plate to blot some of the grease. Once cooled, it’s time to chop it up. I used my food processor.
While the bacon crisped in the oven, I got my mise en place together. If you’re not familiar with mise en place, it’s French for “everything in place”. I learned the importance of it in a pasta class I took with my dad last summer. In a crowded kitchen with sharp knives and hot plates, it’s important everyone get their ingredients gathered and measured before starting the cooking process to minimize running around the kitchen. And even though my kitchen isn’t huge and I was the only one in it, getting my ingredients together and measured made baking a lot less stressful and hectic. Also, I wanted the opportunity to snap this beautiful picture of all the ingredients. I used a shot glass to hold the baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Clever, right?
I also prepped my pans with parchment rounds, cooking spray, and cocoa powder – a great alternative to flour for chocolate cakes as I recently learned from my aunt. Finally, I used aluminized fabric cake strips that are dampened and wrapped around the sides of the pans. They’re used to achieve more evenly bake cakes and reduce that doming effect that often happens on the tops of finished cakes.
Next sift the dry ingredients. (This is a great place to plug my tip post on how to sift.)
Once all the dry ingredients were sifted, give it a little stir with a whisk, then create a well in the middle.
And in go the wet ingredients.
Then stir it all up, adding the bacon bits last. No hand mixer necessary.
Now it’s ready to be evenly divided between the two pans.
Place the pans on cooling racks for a few minutes.
Now it’s time to flip the cakes out of the pans. This is one of the scariest things moments in baking a cake.
After I flipped both layers out and let them cool, I realized they could benefit from some shaving with a serrated knife to even out the tops. It was also a great opportunity to taste the cake. Yum!
Then it was time to make the frosting. First, cream the butter using a hand mixer.
Then sift in the confectioner’s sugar.
Mix a bit more, then add extract, cream, and food coloring.
Next I placed the bottom layer on a parchment paper lined cake stand and dropped some frosting on top.
Then I smoothed the frosting.
Then the next layer was placed on top. and I started shmearing frosting around the sides using an offset spatula.
At this point I needed a break and I figured the cake would benefit from a chill in the fridge to set the frosting. After an hour or so I loaded a piping bag with a 199 frosting tip with frosting, intending to make big rosettes on the top. This is what I was hoping for:
And this is what ended up happening. I think I need to take a class on piping skills.
So I smoothed it over.
And I put some silver sprinkles on top before putting it in the fridge to get the frosting to set.
I think it turned out pretty well aside from the fact it was a little crooked.
How did it taste? Perfection!
- 8 slices bacon, raw
- 2 cups cake flour
- ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup strong, brewed coffee, room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 4 sticks (2 cups) of butter, softened at room temperature
- 6 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
- 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- 3 teaspoons imitation almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 drops red food coloring (optional)
- Line large cookie sheet with tin foil and place raw bacon on top.
- Place sheet in cold oven, set heat to 400 degrees and let bake for 17-20 minutes.
- Drain bacon on paper towels.
- Chop bacon into fine pieces either manually or with a food processor.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Sift all dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, white sugar, baking soda, baking powder and sea salt) into a large bowl. Give it a stir with a whisk to incorporate.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
- Place wet ingredients (eggs, coffee, buttermilk, vegetable oil) into the well. Stir until smooth. Mix in bacon bits last.
- Divide batter between 2 9" round cake pans.
- Bake for 28-32 minutes, until center of cake springs back when touched. Rotate pans at 15 minute mark.
- Cool on pans on wire rack for a few minutes before flipping cakes out onto racks.
- FOR FROSTING: Cream butter in a medium bowl using hand mixer.
- Sift in confectioners sugar.
- Mix on medium until fully incorporated.
- Add cream, extracts and food coloring. Mix until color is even.
- Decorate cake as desired.