Every birthday deserves a great cake. This iconic cocoa-based, richly iced Israeli birthday cake known as ugat yomledet (birthday cake) fits the bill.
I've also prepared it to celebrate a family welcoming a new baby. Israeli-born Yigal Ben Aderet remembers his Turkish mother mixing up this "big deal," spongy, moist, chocolaty cake, sometimes frosted, sometimes with whipped cream. It was eaten with milk and/or dunked in milk. Yigal Rechtman recalls that the kibbutz class mothers responsible for treats were expert bakers who made a dark, unfrosted, and coarse round cake with a hole in the middle.
This recipe is modified from Al Hashulchan: A Gastronomic Monthly.
For the cake
- Preheat the oven to 320ºF.
- Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan or Bundt pan, or line a cake pan with parchment paper.
- Mix together the milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the sugar to the dry ingredients and mix.
- Fold the milk mixture slowly into the dry ingredients.
- Mix the boiling water with the cocoa and stir into the batter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes. Check with a toothpick to see how firm it is; bake until it is firm inside. Cool completely in the pan.
For the frosting
- Warm the cream in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; do not let it boil.
- Add the chocolate and stir until melted. If you prefer to cover the entire the cake with frosting, double or triple the recipe.
- Once the frosting has cooled, apply it to the cake. Decorate with sprinkles.
Reprinted with permission from On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao (2nd Edition) by Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz.