Chocolate Vanilla Birthday Cake

This week, both my husband and I celebrated our birthdays. For four days, he and I are the same age...until his birthday rolls around. This means that we often celebrate our birthdays together. 

Last year, I made a Lemon-Raspberry Plate Trifle that went horribly wrong. This year I made a chocolate vanilla cake that turned out much better than the trifle, albeit a little dry. I included the recipe nonetheless, but I think it needs a little tweaking. Does anyone know how to make a dry cake moist? Do I just add more water before baking it?

This week we also got a box of veggies from our CSA! Starting in the bottom left we received green and yellow beans, rainbow chard, arugula, GIGANTIC carrots, white onions, fresh garlic, cauliflower, cucumbers (including a lemon cucumber!), egyptian spinach, and an assortment of summer squash.

I've never heard of egyptian spinach before. According to my CSA, it has 19 times the nutrients of regular spinach! It looks different from spinach, but my CSA recommends using it like spinach. I'm going to try it in my green monster tomorrow morning. I may be running circles around my co-workers as a result of its unbelievable nutritional profile!

Our box also contained some new potatoes! I haven't made any of my Fabulous Potato Salad this year, so I am excited to make some this week with these really fresh potatoes.

Like most places in the United States this week, we were in the middle of a heat wave. Amazingly on Wednesday, my home town of Moorhead, MN was the hottest place ON EARTH! I still can't believe it. We were up there last weekend for the Fargo Street Fair and the Clay County Fair.

I always think of trains when I think of Fargo/Moorhead. :) 

In addition to fair-ing it up for our birthdays, we went to a Trampled by Turtles outdoor concert last night in Minneapolis. Outdoor concerts are fantastic when the weather is good, which it was for most of it. It did need to get cut short because of some pesky lightning... 

I am determined to figure out a way to make this cake more moist, because I really liked the chocolate and vanilla flavors. I would also change how I did the frosting. I liked the buttercream layer of frosting inbetween the cake layers. However, instead of buttercream on top too, I would just add a plethora of fresh fruit. Strawberries were great. Raspberries and blueberries would also be divine.

Chocolate Vanilla Cake
12 servings, 60 minutes (plus more for cooling and decorating)

1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup cake flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 8- or 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Trim the ends off of the vanilla bean and finely mince the whole bean. Add to the boiling water and let steep while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flower, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.
  5. In a third bowl, add the yolks, sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean and steeping water. Beat until creamy. Mix in the dry ingredients until smooth. Fold in the egg whites gently, but thoroughly.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from the pans. Let cool completely before decorating.

Print this recipe. From How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.