When my gorgeous redhead girlfriend needed a cake for her son's birthday party, I quickly offered to bake it for her rather than have her order from a bakery. She had houseguests and preparations, and she knew she wouldn't get to it. The bakeries here can turn out cute cakes, but we know from experience that the flavor just isn't there. I was happy to step in, though my perfectionist side made it into a major undertaking.
I've been a long time fan of Smitten Kitchen, so I headed straight over there for recipes when my girlfriend requested a chocolate cake shaped like a drum. Smitten Kitchen raved about this chocolate cake, so I gave it a test run sans frosting early in the week. YUM! We aren't chocolate cake eaters (thus my recipe search), but this recipe could change our minds. Seriously, do yourself a favor and try it! I also turned to Smitten Kitchen for frosting ideas, since I tend to goop on a basic sugar frosting that is WAY TOO SWEET for an entire cake. She made a wedding cake with this buttercream frosting, so I knew it would behave itself and stay put for the party (Note: if I made it again, I'd add another half cup of sugar). I've never decorated a cake so carefully in my baking career, but it paid off. The frosting behaved beautifully, the cake was delicious, and thanks to Markus's drumsticks whittled out of carrots, it even looked like a drum!
I had never made/used genuine buttercream, but look at how thinly it spreads:
This was particularly good news since my girlfriend isn't a frosting fan. I was also really impressed with the cake itself. She cut thin slices, and it held up exceptionally well. It didn't crumble to bits. It held its shape without the texture being dry or dull or anything close to boring (quite the opposite!). Thanks to Smitten Kitchen for testing and sharing such great recipes!