A Birthday Cake for Neal and a milestone….


I have this friend who lives in the building across us, lets call her D. one balcony in my apartment faces one one hers. We struck up a conversation over a wicker chair one day, and that has led to a refreshing friendship. Because we are at least 40 feet away from each other, (we live in different buildings) most of the time we end up talking rather loudly, much to the chagrin of our respective spouse ot to mention the neighbours. She’s got two adorable kids and initially, k was used as a source of terror when they would give her a hard time. Of course it didn’t last long, because there’s nothing like a goo goo eyed kid to get him to turn all protective, and fear factor with K didn’t last very long.

We keep exchanging food. she plies me with Bengali delicacies and I with my experimentation in the kitchen and with baking. When I mentioned that I made chocolates for a living (now, that feels like a previous life!!) and did a bit of baking she was excited. Then I sent her the caramel cake we made for daring baker’s and she told me she wanted me to make her son’s birthday cake.


Neal turned three a few weeks ago and though I was away at an offsite training workshop, I made this cake a day earlier and kept in the fridge for her. I also made the tomato and cheese layered muffins and butter cookies in the shape of ‘3’ for the big lad. D thinks my version of the helicopter I tried to draw was ridiculous, but they all loved the cake and the other goodies. I can tell you I could do better with drawing helicopters with buttercream icing…. But what the heck!!

This post was written and lying in my drafts since Dec. D and family went to Kolkata for a month’s summer vacation in March. D’s hubby’s career needs him to stay on there indefinitely and this turned all their plans awry. Neal was to go to school this year, with the uncertainty ahead, D decided to stay put in Kolkata and put Neal in school there so that it doesn’t get interrupted. if you don’t know how nightmarish it is to get school admissions in India, then read this. So now it doesnt look likely that i will see them all again, atleast not very soon. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. All the plans of going shopping and having lunch together now remain just as plans! I miss you guys…. yelling over the balcony, rushing out to share something important / trivial….and just checking in to see how you are doing…. yes and i miss the chai you used to offer me when i was tired and cranky after work.

On a happier note, this blog registered one lakh hits a few days ago!! I REALLY didn’t thing this would happen. Thank you my readers, fellow bloggers and friends  …. one by one, you came here and made this happen. I am humbled.

Read on for the recipe of the Cake

I made the Caramel Cake that they so liked, only this time i used butter cream frosting instead of caramel cream.i used two 8 inch round cake tins, since i wanted to layer the cakes with butter cream, and am not so good with slicing cakes.

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar (i used 3/4 cup white sugar, pulsed in the food processor before adding to the butter)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract ( i used 1 tsp)
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F
Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan. (i used one rectangular 8×6 pan and a round 3 inch pan)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.
Sift flour and baking powder.
Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}
Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.
Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.
Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

For the Butter Cream, i used Joy of Baking’s butter cream recipe.

2 cups confectioner’s sugar (or icing sugar or sifted powdered sugar)

1/2 c unsalted butter at room temp

1 t vanilla

2 T milk / light cream

food colour as required

cream the butter till well blended and smooth. add the vanilla. gradually beat in the sugar. scrape down the sides. add the milk and beat on high speed till frosting is light and fluffy (3-4 mins). add more milk / sugar if needed. tint with food colour if needed. i coloured 1/3 cup with blue and 1/4 cup with pink.

To frost the cake:

when the cakes are completely cool, place one cake, leveled and edges trimmed off as required, on a plate. spoon about

3-4 tablespoons of frosting onto the cake and spread it, steer clear about 1 cm from the ends, because it will ooze out when the top layer is added. Put the second cake on top and slather 4 tablespoons of butter cream frosting onto it. work around the sides and cover the sides with butter cream. use a long knife for this, and try to make it as even as you can. i pop it into the fridge for 15-20 minutes at this stage. after the cake and frosting has chilled a bit, dip a knife into hot water, wipe with a kitchen towel and smoothen the frosting. do this over the sides as well. each time dipping the knife into the hot water and wiping. i put the blue tinted frosting into a ziploc bag, snipped off the end and used an icing nozzle to pipe all over the edges. used a writing nozzle to make what i called a picture of a helicopter and write the words onto the cake. that’s it. birthday cake is ready!

D told me they loved all of it. pity i wasn’t there to join in the fun.

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Jayashree says:

    Wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww this looks sooooooooooooooo good…..:)Looks perfect..

  2. Swapna says:

    I liked your helicopter.. it would fit it any fairy-tale land !! So sorry that ur friend had to move away… I know how bad that feels… but life goes on… what happened to stop making chocolates?


    1. arundati says:

      thanks babe…. mail me your phone number please… seem to have lost it again….classes for chocolates continue babe… now down to about once a month..

  3. Congratulations on 1 lakh hits. That’s a huge milestone. And hopefully your next neighbours will be as lovely as these were.

  4. Sampada says:

    Wow! sounds delicious…congratulations for one lakh hits…that cake is luscious….my kid’s birthday is next month…i wanna try this…uphere in U.S. i always have a hard time trying to find ingredients…one of my friend introduced me to a great resource http://www.myethnicworld.com and i thought that i pass great along as well.

  5. deeba says:

    Love Neal’s cake & congrats on the lakh!! Way to go babes. The helicopter is precious…tell K to concentrate on his toes! I’ll never forget that pic!! xoxoxo Where’s the cheesecake, & how is the back?

  6. sig says:

    Hey girl, congrats on the milestone! Lovely cake, great job with that helicopter too, I could figure out what it was even before I read the post 🙂

    thanks sig!!how much i love you!!

  7. Arundathi says:

    Good job! The cake looks really nice!

  8. Parita says:

    Wow Arundati, the cakes looks beautiful, i love the color combination 🙂

  9. Priya says:

    Wow wat a gorgeous frosting, cakes looks absolutely delish…Awesome work Arundati!!

  10. Congratulations on registering those many hits!!!! 🙂
    The cake looks really delicious. I wonder if I’ll ever get myself to bake such pretty looking cakes…

  11. Divya Vikram says:

    Lovely frosting! You made it like a pro!!

  12. Hi Arundati,

    The cake looks good and I am sure for a 3 yr old the very idea that you attempted on pipping a helicopter would have made him happy. It is so sweet that you made all that for his birthday. Friendships what it can make you feel and do. I have been there. It can be very hard when you think at last you have connected with a good friend or two and they decide to move. I am sure you guys can still meet some day and do some catching up.

  13. Happy Cook says:

    The cake looks so beautiful and delicous, why didn’t i have a neighbor and freind like you 🙂

    Awwww…that’s the sweetest thing i’ve heard… thanks HC….

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