May 14, 2008

Chocolate Cake with Butterscotch Icing

I’m wishing you another year
Of laughter, joy and fun
Surprises, love and happiness,
And when your birthday’s done,
I hope you feel deep in your heart,
As your birthdays come and go,
How very much you mean to me,
More than you can know.

I came across this wonderful poem on a site called This site is a wonderful resource for poems and these are wishes I am sending my brother’s way. Fifteen years ago, I baked a Black Forest Cake from scratch for his birthday and today I’ve arranged for a Black Forest cake to be delivered to him.

Fan and critic rolled into one, he’s the “guy” I always wanted to be. There was a phase in my life when I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to wear shorts (and use the washroom without having to sit down). I wanted my “curfew time” to be the same as his. Never mind that he was almost 5 years older. I always made it look like he’s being allowed whatever because he’s a boy and not because he was much older. (Something which irritated my parents no end.) Then came a phase when I wanted to be nothing like him. I was becoming my own person, with my own likes and dislikes. Though, in retrospect, I realize that even when I didn’t want to be like him, my likes and dislikes were governed by his. Just that, now, his likes became my dislikes. So, I really don’t know if I hate hard rock and lady’s finger that much any more.

When it comes to food, I’ve made him the guinea pig for loads of stuff that I cooked. He had, and continues to have, a keen eye for detail and a fantastic sense of good food. Some of our food related conversations that stand out are:

While making potato curry:

H: Now put the mustard.
Me: OK
H: Wait till it splutters.
Me: No, let’s put the potato.
H: No, Amma always waits till the mustard splutters.
Me: But that’s only to check if the oil’s hot. We know it’s hot.

All this when I was 6 and he 10 and my mother was working late.

Later, when I was 13 and he 17 or 18, my parents were away in Holland and I was cooking for the two of us.

H: I’m going A’s house.
Me: I’ll come along. Drop me at S’s place please.
H: No way. I’m going alone.
Me: OK, you eat bread till Amma gets back.

It was pure blackmail. I knew he’d succumb and he did. The way to any man’s heart is really through his stomach. So what if he’s your brother?

Today, he still relishes stuff that I make, but we haven’t really lived under the same roof for 16 years now so the occasions are few and far between. He’s also a lot more conscious about what he eats and so, in a way, I figure I can’t blackmail him with food anymore. He does return the favour by making me dosas when I visit. He makes better dosas than even Amma. When I took S home for the first time to meet my family, H very lovingly made dosas for his “Alludu” as well.

We don’t fight as much anymore. In fact, I’d say we don’t fight at all anymore. He does tease me the same way he used to when I was 3 and my reaction is almost, “Amma, to makka chidaytasa. (Amma, he’s teasing me.)” And then I have to stop myself and deal with it differently. The 4 ½ year gap seems a lot less in our thirties than it did in our twenties and teens. Despite everything we’ve gone through in life, and despite anything that will come our way, I know we’ll be there for each other.

Here’s a small chocolate cake to celebrate H’s birthday.

1 1/2 cups Flour
1/3 cup Cocoa Powder
4 tsp Baking Powder (Or 3 tsp Baking Powder and 1 tsp Baking Soda)
1 1/4 cups Sugar (Indian sugar is sweeter, so 1 cup will do)
a Pinch Salt
1/2 cup Oil
2 eggs
1 cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla

Butter and flour for dusting

For the icing:

6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups Icing sugar
3 tbsp Butterscotch Syrup
1/3 cup Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Sprinkles for decoration

Sift all the dry ingredients for the cake together into a food processor jar with the dough blade. Pour in all the liquid ingredients and run the processor for 2 minutes.

Prepare two 8 inch round cake tins by first smearing a little butter all over the tin and then dusting it with flour.

Divide the batter equally between the pans and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. The cakes are done when a knife or skewer inserted into them comes out clean. Remove the cakes to a cake rack and cool completely.

Cut the tops of the cakes to make them even.

For the icing:Beat butter in a mixer jar. Add powdered sugar and butterscotch syrup alternately with milk; beat to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Stir in the vanilla essence.

Place one cake and spread the icing over it. Place the second cake over this and cover with icing. (I found the icing a little too sweet even though I cut down the sugar content from the original recipe.) Decorate with the sprinkles.

This is one horrible attempt at frosting a cake! But it is still made with a lot of love and sent his way. H, here’s wishing you every happiness. You deserve it! Happy Birthday!


Sia said...

birthday wishes to ur bro raaga. i always thought big brothers were bullies but looks like it was other way round here;) and my sister also celbrates her birthday today:)

Sia said...

birthday wishes to ur bro raaga. i always thought big brothers were bullies but looks like it was other way round here;) and my sister also celbrates her birthday today:)

Asha said...

Happy birthday to your brother. My brother is absolute opposite of me, not much fun!:D
Cake looks great, I have got a mango cake at FH!:)

Unknown said...

That was a nice post..reminded me of the days I used to fight with my bro..lovely wishes to ur bro..

Anonymous said...

lovely rendition..I have two brothers and they were so over-protective and miss that ever since I got married :)..though the bullying still continues

Happy Birthday to your brother..and that is a lovely gesture..

Chitra said...

Happy happy birthday H. Blackforest looks so yummy!

Anonymous said...

oh i identify totally (apart from other things)with the want to be just like him and after a few years nothing at all bit!! happy birthday H from the other arundati!! and that is one nice looking cake....i love the way you use the food processor / blender for everything!! i wish i had met you before i bought some expensive hand mixer thingie that mostly rests in its box!!

sunita said...

Many wishes to yoy bro, dear raaga...he's sure lucky to have you :-)

Swati Raman Garg said...

birthday wishes to him... lovely post... it reminds me of the day when i too wanted vto follow my bros footsteps... :)

TheCooker said...

Not at all horrible.
This is a beautiful cake!
That is one lucky bro you have there :)

Mansi said...

Love is the most important ingredient in any recipe Raaga, and I'm sure your brother would never find such pleasure in any store-bought cake!:)

Kalai said...

Happy birthday (belated) to your brother! It's so funny how things change as we get older, isn't it? The little things don't irritate us so much and distance makes the heart grown even fonder. :)

Unknown said...

Nice touching write up as usual..and you do have a cake for every occasion ready HUH :) Dare if you miss my bday now! My wishes to H :)

Arundathi said...

lovely post, namesake!

TNL said...

How nice! I loved those anecdotes between you two, thanks for sharing.
Brothers are indeed wonderful! :)

Warm wishes to both of you.

Arundathi said...

oh lovely post - and i've commented on it too but didn't bookmark it then!! serves me right! thanks - gonna try the cake this weekend.