Tuesdays with Dorie: Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake & Tarte Tatin



Wow. Just WOW! I cannot belive it has been 2 years. Did I ever in my wildest dreams think I would still be doing this into 2010? No. No way. Did I think that so many people would want to do it with me? No. Never. Do I like to ask myself questions? Apparently. I am so very excited that this bright idea took off in such a big, big way. I am even more excited that we are going to forge ahead. There are so many recipes left and I can’t wait to bake and taste each one. And share it with all of you. And once again, thank you, thank you, thank you Dorie. I couldn’t have picked a nicer author to create an army of stalkers for.  😉 MUAH!

Now, on to business. For TWDs 2nd Anniversary, I decided to let the members choose the recipe we would celebrate with. Of course, I put my 2 cents in. But, Tarte Tatin won by quite a bit. Dammit. Since I am a sore loser, I decided we would have 2 recipes that everyone could choose from. Neener neener neener. My vote went to Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake. Let me break it down, when I think of a party, Anniversary, birthday, celebration, I think cake. I just do. I do not think upside down apple tarte. No offense.! I quite enjoyed the tarte tatin. But, its all about cake for me.

I decided to make pastry cream to fill the layer cake. I made espresso-frangelico pastry cream, following the instructions in BFMHTY. It came out perfect. Then, I moved on to the cake. After I had it ready for cake pans, in a moment of weakness, I lined cupcake papers and scooped the batter into those. Hey, I can give away cupcakes. Its a lot harder to hack off pieces of a layer cake to dole out.  To top the cupcakes, I chose chocolate cream cheese frosting. To thin it, I added heavy cream and then whipped it. Oh my. SO GOOD! I wanted to just eat the frosting. The cupcake as a whole is by far the best cupcake I have ever made. Ever. And you guys know me. I have eaten my fair share of cupcakes. (Shout out to Cupcake Hero!) This combo was perfect. I will definitely make them again.

On to the Tarte Tatin. I wanted to make my own puff pastry, but quickly zooming down the freezer section, I snagged some premade. Next time, I will try to make my own. Its something I definitely want to do. The tarte looked perfect, or so I thought, when it went in the oven. When it came out, and I flipped it. It was a runny mess and the apples were too pale for me. It just did not match the picture in the book. This meant I didnt cook the caramel/apples on the stove top long enough before putting it in the oven. I don’t think it affected the taste of the tarte too badly. We ate it up with a touch of whipped cream on the slices. I know next time to cook the caramel a lot darker. My worry of burning it bit me in the rear.

If you would like the recipe for the Tarte Tatin, click here.

Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (optional)

FOR THE CHOCOLATE MALT BUTTERCREAM: (not the frosting pictured)

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/4 cup malted milk powder

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup boiling water

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Pinch of salt

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.


Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until it is thoroughly blended into the butter. Add the eggs one at a time, then the yolks one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk; add the dry ingredients in 3 portions and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); mix only until each new batch is blended into the batter. Scrape down the bowl and, if you want, add the melted chocolate, folding it in with a rubber spatula. Divide the batter between the cake pans.

Bake for 26 to 30 minutes, or until the cakes feel springy to the touch and start to pull away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (Once the layers are cooled, they can be wrapped airtight and left at room temperature overnight or kept frozen for up to 2 months.)


Melt the chocolate with half the brown sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from the heat.

Whisk the malt powder and cocoa together in a small bowl, pour over 3 tablespoons of the boiling water and whisk until smooth. Whisking the melted chocolate gently, gradually pour in the hot malt-cocoa mixture and stir to blend–it should be dark, smooth and glossy; set aside.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining brown sugar and beat for 2 to 3 minutes more, until well blended. Beat in the salt and vanilla extract, then reduce the mixer speed to low. Scrape in the chocolate mixture and mix until smooth. Still working on low speed, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. When all the sugar is in, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for a couple minutes. Lower the speed and add the remaining tablespoons of boiling water, then increase the speed and give the frosting another quick spin. It will be light and should be thick enough to use immediately. If it doesn’t hold its shape, beat in just a bit more.


Place one layer top side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Frost the top of the layer, then cover with the second layer, top side down. Frost the sides and top of the cake, either smoothing the buttercream for sleek look or using a spatula, knife or spoon to swirl it for a more exuberant look.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour (or up to 1 day, if that’s more convenient) to set the frosting, then bring it to room temperature before serving.

Whipped Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (frosting pictured here)

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (about)

1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

Cream the cream cheese and butter until fully incorporated and smooth. Add the cocoa powder, mix to combine. Add the powdered sugar until desired sweetness and consistency is reached. Add 1 tablespoon heavy cream, whip until light.  (I added a 2nd tablespoon of heavy cream to make the frosting really light.) Frost cooled cupcakes. Yields enough to lightly frost 24 cupcakes.

Link to the pastry cream I used, click here. I added 1 tablespoon frangelico and 1 tablespoon very strong espresso to this pastry cream.

As always, go check out the TWD blogroll for all the tasty goodness you can stand.

47 thoughts on “Tuesdays with Dorie: Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake & Tarte Tatin

  1. Look at you going all out with both recipes! I love how you filled those cupcakes – it sounds and looks heavenly! Here’s to 2 years and to you – you absolutely rock! Hugs and much love! Muah!



  2. Lovely job. Two Recipes! Two anniversaries! I am so glad you started it! I learned so much while baking along and….I even bought puff pastry with hopes of baking this up in the morning! I hope to be back on the TWD bandwagon. 🙂

  3. Happy anniversary!!! Both recipes look terrific, but I especially like the cupcakes. They look fabulous with all that frosting on top. Mmm. I made sour cream-chocolate frosting for mine.

  4. I’m so glad to come by and see your “new” blog and thank you again for the group and for all of your hard work on it. Such a gift that you’ve given to us partners in baking. I baked both recipes also. I waited until the caramel on my tarte tatin was nice and dark but my apples ended up a bit scorched in the process; it’s kind of tricky that you can’t really tell how the tart is until the end when it gets unmolded.

  5. Wow, you made them both and they both look terrific! I love the new look and name. Thanks for letting us all ride along on your dream…TWD really has changed my life!

  6. mikejdunlap

    I ditto the comments – thanks so much for creating this group. It’s such an incredible fun way to spend an afternoon – or a day! Those cupcakes are fantastic! At least your apples look “unharmed” from the heat – most of mine got scorched. Thanks Laurie – happy anniversary!

  7. Congratulations and Happy, Happy Anniversary to you and all the wonderful TWD bakers. Two years and so many delicious sweets — it’s extraordinary. xoxDorie

  8. Reading down through your “morning coffee’ posts is quite interesting. Thanks for hosting us. It has been so much fun and I’ve only been doing it for about 5 months.

    How do you frost your cupcakes and make them look so perfect? I need to know. 🙂

  9. Wow both! Impressive 🙂 I was lucky to get one done. Glad to see your cake looking so moist. I wasn’t so lucky in that department :-/ Thanks for hosting and for the 2 years, though it’s only been 15 months or so for me. Looking forward to continuing! Oh and I agree about Dorie. When I interviewed her, she was SUCH a pleasure to talk to, a genuinely kind person 🙂

  10. I could go for one of those cupcakes right now! Both the cupcakes and the tarte tatin look great. When I was cooking my apples on the stove, I really wished Dorie was there to tell me when the caramel was dark enough.

    Happy anniversary and thank you for creating the group and keeping it going! I’ve enjoyed it so much and I’m looking forward to another year of baking!

  11. teaandscones

    What a great time I (and many others)following you with TWD. I have learned more about desserts and baking in the last 16months (for me) than I did in 36 years of actually just reading and following recipes. Thanks for ‘accidentally’ beginning TWD.

    And thanks for two great picks to choose from. Wish I could have made them both, but….

    Yours both look lovely.

  12. Three cheers for you! Love the group, so happy to be part of it, loving the book, “meeting” so many awesome people who share a love of baking and you couldn’t have found a better book to bake with! Muah!
    Thanks, Laurie.

  13. Erin

    I think cake is the perfect way to celebrate! I like what you did with it- the frosting and filling both sound delicious! Thanks for 2 great years of TWD!

  14. mgdsue

    Thank you for starting this group and continuing all the work you do. I love being a part of it!

    Your cupcakes look divine and that filling?! I have to try that. And, while I totally agree celebrations mean cake, next time I would choose the tarte tatin. I didn’t have good luck with the cake, and I had such high hopes for it. Oh well, never look back! 🙂

  15. happy anniversary! thanks for much for a great 2 years…and here’s to the next 2! can’t believe you cranked out both recipes! the little cakes look so tasty–i’ll put this on my rewind list to make soon! xoxo

  16. Everything looks wonderful. Great choices for the anniversary! Thank you so much for putting this out there…I never learned how to bake things and I have learned so much over the past 20 months! I first saw your announcement but was afraid to join as I thought everyone would be experts at baking and I just wanted to do it to LEARN how to bake. It took me four months to sign up! My family is so happy that I did…they are loving the TWD desserts, etc. Happy New Year!

  17. Espresso-frangelico pastry cream!!! WOW WOW WOW LOVE IT! And the chocolate cream cheese frosting looks so good! And so does the tarte! You are amazing, Laurie! And thank you so much for doing this for us all! You really have brought together an amazing group of people!

  18. The exact same thing happened to me with the Tarte Tatin! Anyway, looks great and thanks for everything. I really love being a part of this group and I’ve learned so much.

  19. Oh. My. Goodness! Both of these recipes were delicious! I am glad you chose both to make and I am so glad you had the idea to do this. So fun! Both oof your recipes look divine but I especially love the cupcakes! 🙂

  20. Happy TWD Anniversary!
    Laurie, Thank You for organizing us. I have only been a member since September, and I really enjoy being able to participate. TWD is a great group of bakers.
    Thanks again,

  21. Thanks for creating TWD and keeping it running! I have learned a lot since joining. Both of your sihes look good to me – apple and sugar and butter are good, pale or not.

  22. thank you laurie, for starting TWD and allowing us all to bake along with you 🙂 it’s been a pleasure baking along w/you and becoming your friend. i enjoyed the tarte tatin quite a bit…and if these cupcakes are the best EVER then i will have to try them! …or you could just send me a box 😉

  23. Thank you for all that you do for the group Laurie! I love baking from Dorie’s book with all of the wonderful folks in the group each week. Great choices for the anniversary too! I made cupcakes too and thought they were terrific, but that tarte is on my short list of things to try soon.

  24. Laurie, Thanks for the great cake recipe pick and this great group. I have been out of the loop for a few months and this cake got me back in the swing of things. I loved it! Thankfully I have been doing all the baking, so now it’s just a matter of catching up on my posts. I look forward to delicious things this year. Happy New Year!

  25. I figured that addition of the cake recipe was an “executive decision” 😛 Thanks so much for getting this ball rolling though – TWD keeps me happy and sane!

  26. Thank you for creating and organizing TWD. Don’t know exactly how long I’ve been participating, but I look forward to it every week. It’s made me a MUCH better baker! I went with the Tarte Tatin this week, but after reading everyone’s rave reviews of the cake/cupcakes, I’m going to have to tackle it soon, too!

    Thanks again for all you do for the group.

  27. These look heavenly! My daughter has requested chocolate cupcakes for her birthday in a couple of weeks, and I wanted to do something special, and this might just be the cupcake for the job!! I did have a question…. where can I find the recipe for the Espresso-frangelico pastry cream filling? Yum yum!!


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