For years, when I was younger, my birthday cake requests were on the, um, adventurous side. Which was slightly unfair because I was never expected to bake my own cake – I put the pressure on my family. I would want a strawberry chiffon cake in the winter. Or there was one year when I asked for a white cake with chopped up Oreos in it, with the request that the Oreos retain their crunch. My favorite was when I asked for an orange cake with lemon frosting. Apparently, I felt that it was a citrusy year.
I have also adopted this experimental birthday cake baking when I make cakes for other people. You surely remember me getting all fancy with this coconut cake? Or what about this beauty with the macaron layer in the middle? Even these bars were for a birthday!
But all of this makes me miss my most favorite birthday cake combination: yellow cake with chocolate frosting. It’s a classic, after all, and oh-so delicious. And because of my high-maintenance birthday cake tendencies, I’ve never made this cake from scratch! The boxed cake mix and tub of frosting has always been enough for me.
So I decided to give the at-home version a spin for a non-birthday occassion. With an unexpected malty twist in the frosting that will never have me reaching for the tubbed version again. These cupcakes have gotten me so hooked that I can’t think of a better cake to make for every birthday from now on – even my own. But someone else has to make it for me.
Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Malt Frosting
Yellow Cupcakes (recipe from Smitten Kitchen)
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk or yogurt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla in at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined. The mixture may look curdled. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing until just incorporated.
Divide batter evenly into the cupcake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then turn over the pan to release cupcakes. Allow to cool completely on the rack. Frost with chocolate malt frosting.
Chocolate Malt Frosting (recipe from Joy the Baker)
3/4 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/8 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp. Ovaltine (or other chocolate malt powder)
Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar. Mix on low speed while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat until smooth. In a glass, stir together heavy cream and Ovaltine. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency. You may not need the full amount of Ovaltine and cream. Spread onto cupcakes.