As I usually do, this year I baked myself a birthday cake. While the idea of someone else making me or buying me a cake for my birthday is exciting, baking my own birthday cake is actually something I look forward to as it’s something I can make completely selfishly and I know at least I will be satisfied. It’s a yearly form of self-love.
This year’s birthday cake was a very simple cake, but very rich and intense and indulgent. The “fondant” in this cake is not fondant icing as often used in English, but the French word fondant, for melting or molten, and its center is barely held together. I studded it with French caramels au beurre salé, caramels made with salted butter, which are one of my favorite things on the planet. I even have a “caramel house” — a tin house container filled with caramels that I stock up on every time I pass through France.
This cake is a good reminder not to judge a book by its cover. It comes out of the oven crackled and defiant and dares you to say…is that it? But when you cut into it, you discover its moist dark heart and you start to get intrigued. And then you cut slice after slice. And then the cake says to you…is that it? And you reach for another slice.
To make this cake your own, you might think about adding chocolate chips, nuts, or something else to the very last step before you pour the cake into the loaf pan. I studded the cake with caramels by slicing up some high-quality caramels and then gently pushing the pieces into the poured loaf pan. I also recommend serving this cake with homemade whipped cream or even a fruit coulis.
A few other scenes from a self-love birthday weekend, which I highly recommend, and remember, even if you do some self-love on your birthday, that still leaves a ton of space for other people to celebrate with you and even buy you gifts if that’s what you’re into. :)
Since I was traveling the next day, I only bought myself a few flowers since I didn’t want an entire bouquet to die only for a day’s enjoyment.
A walk around Rome with the sun playing hide & seek.
Walking along the Tevere river which had been recently cleaned (a rarity) and leaf-free, which I also posted on Instagram.
The next morning, heading on another adventure with a completely-deserted airport (my favorite kind)!
How do you celebrate your birthday, on your own? To bake or to not bake your own birthday cake?
Dark Chocolate Fondant Birthday Cake Recipe
200g dark chocolate (suggested 70% or more)
3 Tablespoons milk
200g brown sugar
120g salted butter, softened and cut into chunks
3 Tablespoons flour
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Butter and flour a loaf pan — I used a long loaf pan for this.
- Separate the egg whites from the yolks into two separate bowls and set the egg whites aside.
- Melt the chocolate in a large bain marie or double boiler on medium heat. Add the milk and sugar, mixing until the sugar crystals dissolve completely and the mix is nice and glossy.
- Remove from heat. Add the softened butter and the egg yolks one by one, incorporating them well into the mix. Add the flour.
- In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mix and gently stir until the mix is fully incorporated and no white streaks can be seen.
- Bake in the buttered loaf pan for 20 minutes at 180C, and then reduce to 150C for 10 more minutes. When a knife is inserted, crumbs should stick to the knife but it shouldn’t be creamy or undercooked.