Rick's Birthday Cake

June  6, 2022
6 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • makes one 18x13-inch cake
What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Rick's Birthday Cake
  • For the Cake:
  • Nonstick spray
  • 1 1/2 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for the pans
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 3 cups demerara or granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs plus 2 yolks, room temperature, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups hot tap water
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla paste
  • 3 tablespoons malted milk powder
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Buttercream frosting (below)
  • Milk chocolate and dark chocolate malted milk balls (I like the ones from Whole Foods), lightly crushed, for serving
  • For the Buttercream
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
  • 7 ounces dark (70%) chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla paste
  • 3 tablespoons malted milk powder
  1. For the Cake:
  2. Heat the oven to 350°F. Generously spray two half sheet trays, line with parchment, and spray again; dust with cocoa powder, tapping out excess. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the eggs, buttermilk, water, vanilla, milk powder, and oil.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pans onto a wire rack; let cool 15 minutes. Invert the cakes, remove the parchment, then turn right side up (to prevent sticky tops from sticking to rack); let cool completely.
  4. Spread the frosting over top of one cooled cake layer. Top with the remaining layer. Spread a thick coat of frosting over top. Sprinkle with crushed malted milk balls.
  5. Do Ahead: Unfrosted cake layers can be stored, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature or refrigerated overnight. The frosted cake can be refrigerated overnight.
  1. For the Buttercream
  2. Beat the eggs and yolks and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until pale yellow, thick, and ribbony, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring the sugar and 3 tablespoons water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat and cook until the mixture reaches 238°F; remove from the heat.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup so that it streams down the sides of the bowl, cooling slightly before hitting the egg mixture. When all of the sugar syrup has been added, increase to high speed and beat until light, fluffy, and cool, about 8 minutes.
  5. Add butter a piece at a time, beating to incorporate completely before adding another piece and scraping the sides of the bowl often. Gradually add in the chocolate, vanilla, and milk powder, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally, until completely incorporated and the frosting is thick, fluffy, and creamy.

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Rick Martinez

Recipe by: Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez is currently living his dream—cooking, eating and enjoying the Mexican Pacific coast in Mazatlán. He is finishing his first cookbook, Under the Papaya Tree, food from the seven regions of Mexico and loved traveling the country so much, he decided to buy a house on the beach. He is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit, New York Times and hosts live, weekly cooking classes for Food Network Kitchens. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a James Beard Award for “How to win the Cookie Swap” in Bon Appétit’s holiday issue.

2 Reviews

Andrew W. August 28, 2022
I really enjoy this cake and frosting. If I could I would leave a 4.8. The cake is delicious and easy to bring together and bake. The frosting is delicious, light, and the malted milk powder will now be a staple in many frosting recipes. For me the frosting was a challenge to bring together, partially this was due to it being 90 degrees out and the AC in my home is out, so the frosting went soupy in the mixing bowl when I started adding butter. To stop the soup I left out a larger portion of the butter, mixed in the chocolate till it was fully incorporated and then threw the bowl in the fridge. The rest of the butter I whipped in some air with my hand held mixer, added 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar, the malt milk powder, and vanilla, and put that in the fridge. Everything chilled for about ten minutes, and then I mixed the two together. The frosting began melting quickly so I threw everything back in the fridge when I finished frosting the cake.

When I make this recipe again, I will probably wait for a colder day (or at least for when my AC starts working again), or when starting the whipped egg and sugar part I may leave out the egg yolk and just do whites. I think the hotter day with the butter melting easily plus the egg yolks was all too much weight on the meringue for it to stay airy.

This is a delicious recipe, and I loved making it for my birthday. My seven and four year old nephews went back for seconds and my mom and dad had some for breakfast the next morning with their coffees.
CVB June 25, 2022
We loved this cake!! I made a half batch for the cake (full batch of frosting and froze half) and baked it in a bundt pan for about 45 minutes. I think my sugar mixture got too hot because it started to get crystallized as I poured it- I ended up adding a little bit of powdered sugar at the end to compensate. The frosting is a bit finicky but really delicious.