Monday, February 11, 2019

Happy Valentine's Cake

When I planned my Valentine treat I imagined cupcakes with pink frosting. Perfect for Valentine's Day, right? And then I happened to see a photo of a cake with chocolate frosting. Oh the power of a picture!

I always liked baking cakes, even as a kid. And as I baked this 1-2-3-4 cake I thought it would be perfect for beginning bakers. They could learn some good fundamentals. The cake and frosting are so easy that it would be hard to go wrong. And best of all, the result is something of a showstopper, which is so rewarding when you're insecure about baking.

The 1-2-3-4 recipe has been around for a long time. The basic idea is 1 cup of butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, and 4 eggs. Easy to remember. It makes a good-sized cake, too. There are a few other typical cake ingredients like baking powder and vanilla, but it's still fairly simple. I made this one with buttermilk but it's so nicely basic that you could play with various ingredients for months.

Because it's a fairly plain cake, I added a bit of blackberry jam under the frosting in the middle. It's a nice burst of unexpected flavor. I also added some coffee granules to the frosting to give the chocolate more depth. Both of those are completely optional.

Basic 1-2-3-4 Cake
2 9-inch baking pans

2 sticks unsalted butter (1 pound), softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour the cake pans. I used parchment paper on the bottom of each pan. Sift the flour with the baking powder and the salt, set aside. Pour the vinegar into the milk and set aside.

Cream the softened butter with the sugar. Add one egg at a time and mix well. Alternate adding the milk, the vanilla, and the flour until all are incorporated. The consistency of the batter will be thick. Divide between the two pans.

Bake 28-31 minutes. Test with a cake tester to be sure it comes out clean.

Allow to rest in the pan on a rack for ten minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack. Frost when cool.

Mocha Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar
8 tablespoons powdered cocoa
1/3 cup 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee (optional)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

fruit jam such as blackberry, raspberry, or apricot (optional)
sugar pearls (optional)

Mix the powdered sugar with the cocoa powder. Dissolve the instant coffee in the milk. Beat the butter until very soft. Alternate adding the sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat for at least three minutes.

Place the bottom layer of the cake on the cake plate. Spread a thin layer of jam on top. Add a substantial amount of frosting and spread, coating the edge as well. Place the top layer over it. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides. Decorate with sugar pearls to create a heart on top.

Divide batter between two pans.

Add some jam for a bright flavor pop!

So creamy!



  1. Looks delicious! You can never go wrong with chocolate!

  2. Gorgeous. And a pound of butter! Mocha frosting was always the go-to frosting in our household when I was growing up (although the cake usually came from a box).

  3. Krista, I love your recipes, and I don't mean to be critical, but.....I thought a pound of butter was four sticks. The cake calls for two sticks. Isn't that a half pound? Am I missing something? Quilt Camp is this week and I need to take a treat to share. Your cake sounds like the perfect thing!!!

  4. This is a lovely idea for Valentines of any gathering. Thanks for sharing it. And I am always partial to a jam layer of some kind in the middle of my cakes. It just adds a little something special doesn't it?

  5. This is one of my favorite cakes: yellow cake with chocolate frosting.
    Your addition of the jam layer is a great idea.

    Awaiting your clarification on Sharon S's question about the butter amount.


  6. Sorry to cause confusion. It's 1 CUP of butter! Not one pound. Two unbiased (hah!) tasters tried it today and declared it yummy. ; )

  7. I should also mention that I found this to be exactly the right amount of frosting. However, you can see from the photo that I don't have frosting that's 1/2 inch thick. If you want more frosting, make half again as much.

  8. Thanks, Krista, one cup butter makes more sense. I agree with you on the amount of frosting.... I don't like it piled on either.

  9. Yum. I'm going to try this gluten-free (adding the requisite Gluten items) I'll report back. :) ~ Daryl