Continuing this week’s birthday theme, today I’m delighted to welcome Cat Lavoie, fellow anglophile and author of three wonderful novels. In her latest, Peri in Progress, a disastrous birthday party compels Peri McKenna to launch a major self-improvement plan. As a treat for us, Cat has persuaded Peri to spill the beans on a prized recipe. And don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Peri in Progress, along with 4 other women’s fiction titles!
Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Pauline! I’m thrilled to be part of Secrets in the Sky‘s birthday celebration.
Speaking of birthdays… they play an important role in my latest novel, Peri in Progress, and I’ve asked the leading lady, Peri McKenna, to share the story behind an elusive cake recipe. Take it away, Peri!
I recently turned thirty-mumble and the day couldn’t have been more perfect—you’ll have to read Cat’s book to find out what gift made that particular milestone so amazing—but my second favorite memory from that day involves a folded-up piece of paper handed to me by a very handsome chef named Milo Preston.
Before I tell you what was written on that paper, you need to know one thing—I work at the Messina Grill where Milo is the head chef and we take birthdays very seriously. When a patron informs us that someone in their party is celebrating a birthday, we break out the colorful balloons and the singing waiters who cannot carry a tune, but make up for it with overwhelming enthusiasm. At the end of the meal, we bring out the real star of the show: the Messina Grill’s decadent chocolate birthday cake. Milo—who insists he’s a chef, not a baker—only makes this particular treat for special occasions.
As a (somewhat recovering) junk food addict, I know good cake and I wanted the opportunity to make—and eat—this particular cake in the comfort of my own home. It never occurred to me that Milo might say no when I asked him for the recipe. But he did. And he kept saying no each and every time I asked. He even saw right through my not-so-cunning plan when I sent customers over to (secretly) ask on my behalf.
His refusal to spill the beans is the reason it took me a few seconds to realize the random piece of paper he handed to me wasn’t so random after all—I was reading the recipe for Milo’s Chocolate Birthday Cake. I know it sounds silly to say something as simple as a recipe made me jump up and down with excitement, but if you’ve ever been to the Messina Grill on your birthday, you know this isn’t just any ordinary cake.
Milo wants to keep this recipe under lock and key, but I’m sure he won’t mind if I let you in on his culinary secret since, technically, we’re celebrating a birthday! Good cake is meant to be shared and you don’t have to wait for your birthday to enjoy it. Life is short. Eat cake every day—especially if it’s the kind of cake that brings back memories of a fabulous day.
Chef Milo’s Chocolate Birthday Cake
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
- 1 vanilla bean pod, cut and scraped
- 1 cup boiling water
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
Stir together: sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, apple sauce, and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.
Stir in boiling water. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely before frosting.
For the Chocolate Buttercream:
- 1-1/2 sticks salted butter
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean pod, cut and scraped
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Add powdered sugar and milk, alternating between the two. Beat until desired consistency. Stir in vanilla.
(Note to Peri: try not to eat the entire bowl of buttercream. Some of it needs to go on the cake.)
Cat Lavoie lives in Montreal, Canada with her tempestuous cat, Abbie. She is the author of Breaking the Rules, Zoey & The Moment of Zen, and Peri in Progress. If Cat isn’t reading or writing, she’s most likely watching too much TV or daydreaming about her next trip to London. To find out more about Cat and her books, please visit CatLavoie.com. You can also catch up with her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Finally, enter here to win a copy of Peri in Progress, along with 4 other women’s fiction ebooks.
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