Dylan’s Birthday Cake

If you want a cake to be loved, set aside the fruits, nuts, and liqueurs. Whether four or forty, most people want their chocolate cake straight, accompanied by a glass of milk or coffee. In Fran’s son Dylan’s favorite cake, the crème frâiche hits just the right note to offset the extravagant richness. For a smaller cake, you can make one 9-inch layer and half the filling.

Serves 24


  • 1 recipe batter for Prince Torte Layers
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 66% cacao), finely chopped
  • 24 ounces crème frâiche or sour cream


To Make the Cake

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly butter two 9-inch round cake pans (preferably flared) and line the bottoms with parchment paper circles.
  2. Evenly spread batter for Prince Torte Layers into the prepared round pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the tops appear lighter in color and a tester inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Allow the cake layer to cool in the pan at room temperature for approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Turn the layers out of their pans (leaving the parchment attached) onto cardboard cake circles or tart bottoms and chill completely. (The cooled layers can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to a week prior to assembly.)

To Make the Filling/Icing

  1. In a double boiler melt the chocolate over low heat. Cool to lukewarm.
  2. Put the crème frâiche in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. On medium-high speed, whip the cream just to lighten, about 20 seconds. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the melted chocolate, scraping the bowl often, until the mixture is creamy and glossy.

To Finish the Cake

  1. Using a serrated knife, split the chilled layers horizontally. Place the bottom layer on the serving plate; remove the top cut layer and set aside. Spread approximately ½ cup of the crème frâiche icing on the first layer, about ¼ inch thick. Place the reserved layer on top, removing the parchment circle. Coat the layer with another ½ cup of icing. Repeat until all 4 layers are assembled with a cake layer on top. Trim any rough edges if necessary. Use the remaining icing to frost the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate until set. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Remove half an hour before serving.

Gilding the Lily: This cake is spectacular with the addition of the Dark-Chocolate Ganache Glaze. Prepare when the cake has chilled and follow the glazing instructions for La Rêverie.

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