Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cooking: The Cake

Little Miss Farmer turned thirteen on July 19, 2011. When I asked her what kind of cake she wanted, she said she wanted a "Portal Cake". I knew what Portal was: it is what I consider one of the better video games available these days. You have to make your way through puzzles by creating portals with a gun that shoots virtual holes for you to pass through. Your motivation to proceed to the end of the game is cake. The children shout that "The Cake Is A Lie" over and over because apparently, if you get to the cake in the game, any attempt to retrieve it results in death of your character. Such an epic story could only end with a spectacular cake (and MY cakes tend to be delicious, not beautiful), so imagine my relief when I looked up a screenshot of the cake online and found this:

The Cake, as Seen in the Game "Portal"

Oh yeah. I got this. Further research showed that the cake was 3 layers and chocolate. So I made my famous chocolate cake from scratch (recipe below) twice, so that I would have 4 layers. We snacked on the extra layer while we waited for the final product to be ready. Once the layers were baked and cooled, I cut the tops off so they would be nice and flat like the cake from the game.

Tops Sliced Off
Then, since I needed to make white icing for the blobs on top, and since the only pictures of the inside of the cake are black and white so it is hard to tell what color the filling is, I stacked up the 3 layers with white buttercream icing between (recipe also below). Did I mention that I love buttercream icing? It is so easy to make and amazingly delicious.

At This Point I was Wondering
If the Glass Dome Would Fit.
It Didn't.
Next I frosted the outside with dark chocolate icing (you guessed it, recipe below).

Chocolate Icing Added

A closer look at the screenshot shows that the cake has some texture to the outside. It is unclear as to what causes that texture. I have seen chocolate shavings and cookie crumbs used for that purpose, but I went with chocolate chips.

Encrusted with Chocolate Chips
Then I added the final decoration: the white icing blobs and cherries. All done! (Four Hours Later!)

How Did I Do?

I am pleased with the result. Of course I have made this cake as a simple two-layer, extra-chocolaty deal on a number of occasions, usually just sprinkled with a little this or that as appropriate for the occasion. I have filled it with strawberry preserves or whipped peanut butter. The cake itself is easy and I have been accused of buying it or using a box on more than one occasion. But seriously, this cake (in its basic form, not the craziness I did with it for Little Miss Farmer's birthday), is a piece of cake to make (pun intended!).

The Cake


2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Cocoa powder (Dark is best)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (or by hand until smooth). Stir in hot coffee (batter will be strangely thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks (Or clean towels). Cool completely before frosting.

The Chocolate Icing


1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Melt butter in the microwave or in a small pan on the stove. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

Makes about 2 cups frosting.

The ButterCream Icing
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
2 tablespoons milk


 In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.



  1. I'm impressed- that looks amazing! Bet it was delicious:)

  2. Thanks, everyone! It was delicious, and it really does look a lot like the one from the game. Turning 13 is kind of a big deal, right?