Earn Some Future Love Points: Make a First Day of School Cake

Posted by Dani on September 8, 2012

Looking to score brownie points with your kids?

Want them to know they have the best mom on the planet?

Then you need to adopt my First Day of School Cake Tradition.

Trust me, one day their surly teenaged minds will remember that boy, they really had it good. And they will appreciate you for that one fleeting second. All you need to do is invent one fun tradition that none of their friends get. An extra bonus tradition that all their friends will envy. Pretty well everyone gets Christmas and birthdays, so adding one more event to the roster will take it over the top. Your family will be the one all the kids will want to join. Your kids will feel like bragging – about you! How often will that happen in your life?

We have 3 traditions that qualify as made up, extra bonus, brownie point traditions. They were all things we just sort of fell into without much thought beforehand, and then kept going with after they turned out to be so much fun. These are what I call accidental great parenting ideas.

One is our Valentines Day Morning, where the girls get woken up by having heart shaped confetting thrown at them and then are fed a delicious valentines day breakfast complete with prezzies, heart shaped things to eat, and lots of goofy decorations. And more heart shaped confetti.

Another is the Birthday Sister tradition, where the sister gets almost as many presents as the birthday girl herself. This started when I wanted to make sure my 3 year old didn’t feel a little left out when her sister had her first birthday, and it just kept going from there. They both get each other presents for their own birthdays, and everyone else end up spoiling the birthday sister, too. Everybody wins.

The last bonus tradition is the First Day of School Cake. Who wouldn’t love coming home from school to find some amazingly delicious cake waiting for them? I usually go all out and make up the yummiest cake I can think of. And then we get to sit around, chat about their first day, eat cake, and ruin our supper. A perfect start to the new school year!

This year while we were eating our yummy Double-Chocolate Layer Cake, I had my long-awaited teenage acknowledgement moment, when both girls talked about the fact that none of their friends get First Day of School Cake. Or Valentines Splurgy Breakfast. Or Birthday Sister. So they noticed, and felt good, and I got to high-five myself.

If you’re not much of a baker, or are crazy-busy like most parents, you can always buy something. That’s works perfectly well for a First Day of School Cake. No pressure. Just cake.

The cake I made this year was Ina Garten’s Double-Chocolate Layer Cake. I was looking for a home made version of a moist and rich Duncan Hines chocolate layer cake. I noticed that most of these types of recipes call for a cup of water in the batter, and Ina’s recipe used a cup of coffee instead. I figured that would intensify the flavour, and I was right – this cake hit it out of the park. I frosted it with a mocha buttercream, and it was heavenly. The girls called it the best chocolate cake they have ever had. I’ve included the recipe below if you want to give it a try. Or check out my post from last year if you want to try making the best carrot cake they have ever had.

And since this post is going up a few days after the fact, don’t forget that a First Day of the Second Week of School Cake works just as well. Basically, anything works for scoring future brownie points. As long as there’s cake.


Double-Chocolate Layer Cake
by Ina Garten

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper; butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.
4. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool to room temperature.
5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the side of the bowl. At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute. In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 2 teaspoons of hot water. Slowly beat the coffee and the cooled chocolate into the butter mixture until just combined.
6. Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up. Evenly spread one-third of the frosting over the cake to the edge. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and side of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.
Make Ahead: The frosted cake can be refrigerated for 2 days. Let stand for 1 hour before serving.

Recipe Note: For some reason, I find I never have as much frosting as I need to properly ice the cake. In this case, I doubled the recipe, and I some frosting leftover. For me, the ideal amount of frosting would have been about 1.5 times this recipe.

2 Responses to “Earn Some Future Love Points: Make a First Day of School Cake”

  1. how2home says:

    This looks delicious! Thanks for sharing this recipe with us. I’d have a double chocolate cake any day 🙂

Leave a Reply to how2home

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