When I was little, one of my favorite dishes was my dad's firehouse birthday cake. He was a fire chief, and like most firefighters, a great cook. His dessert specialty was a boxed chocolate cake that he jazzed up with a whipped cream cheese frosting and syrupy cherry topping; it was called firehouse birthday cake. Since he retired, I haven't had firehouse birthday cake, so with the original recipe in hand, I recently set out to bake an updated version of the dessert.
Instead of a boxed mix, I made a devil's food chocolate cake from scratch and I replaced the canned cherries with fresh bing cherries. The resulting cake has all the delicious flavors I remember, but with a more sophisticated appearance. It's a rich and wonderful pairing of chocolate and cherries, cut with smooth, fluffy, thick cream. If you've got a birthday coming up, I highly recommend this cake. Here's the recipe.
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for pans
1/2 cup boiling water
3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole buttermilk
For the cherries:
2 1/2 cups pitted fresh cherries
1/4 cup sugar
For the whipped cream frosting:
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup creme de cassis, optional for assembly
- Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment; butter parchment. Dust with cocoa powder; tap out excess. Set aside. Sift cocoa powder into a medium bowl; whisk in boiling water. Set aside to cool.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl; set aside.
- Put butter into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until creamy. Gradually mix in sugar until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, a bit at a time, mixing well between each addition; mix until well blended. Mix in vanilla.
- Whisk buttermilk into reserved cocoa mixture. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the cocoa mixture.
- Divide batter evenly among prepared pans; smooth tops with an offset spatula. Bake, until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks; remove parchment and re-invert. Let cool completely.
- While the cake cools, prepare the cherries. Stir together the cherries and sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
- Make the frosting: Whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy, 2 to three minutes. In a separate bowl, combine the powdered sugar and whipping cream. Beat on high speed until slightly thick. Add the whipped cream cheese and continue beating until mixture is thick and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.
- To assemble cake, place one cake on a serving platter. Brush with creme de cassis, if desired. Top with a generous scoop of frosting. Top with half of the cherries, leaving a 1/2 inch border.
- Place remaining cake on top. Brush with creme de cassis. Cover the top and side with frosting. Pour the rest of the berries in a mound on top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Cake, Desserts
- North American