Recreating My Favorite Childhood Birthday Cake (From Chuck E. Cheese!) | Recipe Quest | NYT Cooking
Home » Recreating My Favorite Childhood Birthday Cake (From Chuck E. Cheese!) | Recipe Quest | NYT Cooking

Recreating My Favorite Childhood Birthday Cake (From Chuck E. Cheese!) | Recipe Quest | NYT Cooking

[Music] Hey it's Eric welcome to another episode Of recipe quest with this video series We've really been trying to show You this episode is really about Nostalgia we're creating my dream Birthday cake it's specifically a cake That I had at Chuck-E-Cheese my cousins And I my brother we all grew up with This cake dark chocolate white frosting In order to get started on this search We figured we should probably go to the Source which is why we are in the Parking lot of Chuckecheese cheese chese when you're Hry CH cheese it's a good When [Music] You're what's Going hi thank you for having me nice to Meet you Chucky you guys here for a Birthday party yeah I'm here for Oscar He's a six-year-old um I think they're Back [Music] There this is Oscar the birthday boy Sarah my colleague I heard you like SK Ball I love Skall like absolutely love but he's Doing well you said yeah he this is the Best he's ever done are you having fun Oscar oh oh my good job yeah so Good yay well we'll see you at Pizza [Music]

[Applause] [Music] Birthday Dey birthday to you [Applause] [Music] [Music] [Music] Honestly this is it is kind of it is the Taste it's very Familiar this cake it's not the same Cake as the one that I grew up with Again I I grew up with the white Frosting on chocolate cake But you know that Flavor like a universal flavor like Grocy store Cake I'm feeling really nostalgic um This is really taking me back you know One thing I really didn't think I would Realize or pay attention to is how hard It is to keep the attention of these Children they're called cast members the Servers who are helping bring pizza to Your table and sing happy birthday for You and all that it's like a big Job thank you guys so much for helping Us out today and for being here I'm like So curious about your jobs my name is Angie I've been with the company this August will make 9 years my name is I'm The birthday party coordinator here I've Been working here for 2 years nice yes How many cakes do you guys go through

Every day and what flavors do people Usually order we go through a lot of Cakes during the weekend it varies party To party who's planning on bringing Their own and then wanting to purchase With us right right and the only flavors We offer is either like a chocolate or Vanilla is it a frozen cake that you Kind of like take out yes usually like The night before we'll make sure it's All thought so like perfect W that's the Texture that I'm chasing the purpose for Me is to recreate that childhood Birthday cake that I remember do you Guys by chance remember a chocolate cake With white frosting there's like a Picture of me I think it was like my Third birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese And you can see the cake and it did have That fluffy kind of icing on it and There was a whole like Chucky display I Wanted to ask you guys what are your Like dream birthday cakes that you Remember from your childhood cheesecake Strawberry Short Cake from Juniors Juniors my myc counted cake every Birthday is like ice cream cake the ice Cream cake with the Crunchies in the Middle that's just like what I need Thank you guys so much it was really Nice to meet you I had a lot of fun Today IE yes this was fun so we had Pizza we played games we we cut the cake I think Oscar is having a great time so

Are his friends my goal is to bite into That final kick and have a single tier Run down my cheek so now I'm going to Head to the kitchen studio and uh bake Some chocolate cake [Music] Seen one pick one hey we're in the Studio now I am with my dear friend Rebecca ferer who helped me bake about 11 chocolate cakes the whole point of This test is really to get as close to That Chuck-E-Cheese cake as possible the Memory of the cake getting as close as Possible to the flavor to the aroma to The texture and to the fun cake number One is my chocolate cake I developed the Chocolate cake maybe a couple years ago There is a very specific type of cake That you would get in a Suburban grocery Store and there's a reason why I like it Why I prefer it it's the cake that I Grew up with I'm pretty sure it was oil Based so my recipe is olive oil based Cuz I think chocolate and olive oil go Really well together this step is just Key to why I think those particular Grocery store cakes taste so tender and Nostalgic for me okay next this recipe I Was really excited to get to know cuz It's from Dory Greenspan I call her the Professor of cake this is what the Chuck-E-Cheese cake kind of like feels Like it's definitely the closest in look Kind of the step that I really like in

This is the streaming of boiling water To thin out the batter in the very end This recipe is really unique because it Has cocoa powder and melted Bitter Sweet Chocolate so that combo is something That I will consider the reason I wanted To test Stella's cake is the butter and The coffee get melted together isn't That brilliant this recipe specifically Calls for taking off the heat as soon as It's melted you kind of want it to cool Down slightly oh my God this recipe Calls for a whole cup of Dutch processed Cocoa powder brilliant blooming it in This butter and and coffee makes a lot Of sense I just add the sugar directly To it I think chocolate cake could take More salt than most most cakes and some Vanilla okay it's like really good who Wants to Li this spoon this is CLA Sait's chocolate layer cake one Important part is cocoa powder Bloon With coffee and it also Smooths out the Cocoa powder I was curious about the Cake flour cake flour is obviously going To set you up for success but it's Probably going to be allpurpose flour Unless this is like really different if She calls for crem fresh I would Probably call for sour cream but you Know these are just little Personalizations we have a lot of Different ways of adding fat and ways of Adding Dairy so this recipe is called

The world greatest chocolate cake Anything that promises the world's Greatest that's a big claim there are Two steps here that are kind of Significant I wanted to talk about the First is instant espresso powder they're Really good instant coffee powders I Grew up drinking instant coffee and I Love the flavor this cake is really fun You add some grated zucchini kind of Like reminds me of a carrot cake right Adding a little vegetable to cake there Are many ways to add moisture to a cake Ways to extend it the fun is like very High on this one right what do I say About this cake Nigel Lawson my hero She's the reason I became a food writer Adding Guinness te chocolate cake is a Boss move this notion of what beer can Do to a sweet dessert a stout like this Kind of can add a lot of savoriness and And depth and bitterness of course this Is a one bowl chocolate cake from Genevie Co and she interestingly calls For oolong tea it gets sort of streamed In at the very end it's not necessarily That you taste it but it definitely has An aroma oh my godong is so cool Delicious anyway next cake so this is Melissa Clark's One Bowl chocolate Mayonnaise cake it's an oldfashioned Technique to use mayonnaise in a cake Batter it makes sense cuz the mayonnaise Provides eggs and oil but I also love

The idea that it might provide some Savoriness with this cake recipe I kind Of wanted to talk about leavers and how You're adding them it's pretty standard But you're sifting the flour and the Baking powder together before you add it To all the wet ingredients The second kind of leaver step is Stirring some baking soda into sour Cream that's the brain of someone who Really understands baking right this is The chocolate dump it cake a popular Recipe on New York Times cooking from Amanda Hester it starts with a very Interesting step which is melting the Chocolate butter and sugar together with Water seems really kind of intuitive Usually when you're melting chocolate or Trying to temper it moisture is the Enemy what happens when you don't have Any cocoa powder in a recipe when a Chocolate cake recipe relies only on Melted chocolate I don't know if that's The rout I'll go but I was curious about It so I'm excited to taste It Whatever music you're going to add I'm just excited to taste these cuz That's really where the learning will Happen I am searching for like a very Specific flavor a very specific crumb Very specific type of cake so we're Going to taste each cake with a little Frosting the frosting is a white Frosting and I sort of have an idea

Already of what what I want so we have a Control icing an hermine icing it's an Old recipe of mine but we're also going To taste it without the frosting cake Number one my cake Dutch processed cocoa Powder smells like what I'm used to Great Aroma the almond extract is Pronounced M I know this is my cake so I'm trying not to like compliment myself Too much but there are aspects of it That are very Chuck e- cheesy Chuck e- Cheese- like that's satisfying right I'm Going to adjust the sweetness levels of Each but this just gives me an Idea I think I would like for the cake To be a little less sweet next one is Dory ooh [Music] Pretty nice there's a huge difference Hers is really good this one's really Chocolatey in a beautiful way but it's Not too sweet it leaves a nice like you Know chocolatey depth in my mouth the Frosting is nice cuz it helps you eat More of this cake but the chocolate Flavor FL really still comes through fun That's I'm going to study that recipe Thank you Dory this is the cake that has A whole cup of Dutch processed cocoa Powder that's Amazing wow Stella as soon as this came out of the Oven I was like oo this one's Close really lovely really mature flavor

It's super Savory almost like bread this Isn't n too sweet and that's a good Thing clar's looks really amazing looks Nice and dark in the middle I feel how Like moist it is on the bottom that's Really lovely wow it's Prett interesting It has like this really defined Crust that's good I taste like Savoriness and tang and the chocolate Comes through at the end in a really Nice way like that's the aftertaste man That's the one that had creme fresh it Had like all this really specific stuff In it that I was like I don't want to do That and then it tastes really good the Next cake is Helen go and Oto langi Interesting I can already tell that it's Not really the direction I'm going for Ooh it's really different it almost Tastes more like a flowerless like Chocolate cake Jesse cheek's zucchini Chocolate cake I've had this one before Many times and it has a a fudgin you Actually can kind of see some zucchini In Here m do I taste the zucchini not Necessarily it's cool that you can get a Texture like This by folding in some zucchini Angela This is the Guinness cake this cake Doesn't have any additional salt and it Smells really familiar it smells like The kind of cake you make with melted Chocolate that's really comforting I

Like that I mean genev is the highest Isn't it Rose the tallest [Music] M this is the Oolong cake she said you Couldn't taste it but I kind of can this For people who want like an everyday Chocolate cake I think the texture is Really Satisfying waa I remember when Melissa Made this very like fudgy we maybe Underbaked it but that's okay wow that's A really moist Cake that cake is not too sweet a little Frosting would be welcome I think it's Like you could bake that for someone and Be like hey can you guess the secret Ingredient I'm excited to try this one Because it's the one that has such a Specific leaver method look how red that Cake is so it's like almost like red Velvet it's so Cool my mom on really like that cake It's not too sweet which is fun this is A cake that gets its chocolate from Chocolate I can confirm that I really Need cocoa powder in there I need Dutch Processed cocoa powder in my recipe for It to taste like that nostalgic thing Whether it needs melted choc chocolate And Dish time will tell but wow that One's really good with herine icing the Last one is the dump it cake this is Another kind of oldfashioned cake that Doesn't call for cocoa powder this is a

Sticky cake you come to me oh Cute that's good what I'm really Surprised that looks like it's a Dutch Processed cocoa powder cake but it's a Melted unsweetened chocolate flavor-wise It's really impactful just like punch me In the face with like chocolate cake Flavor I need a second opinion I want to Make you a little plate of three cakes And I just want you to taste them and Tell me what you think thank you yes Yeah all right also Rebecca is the one Who helped me bake all of these So Okay not like super chocolatey but the Little chocolate pieces yeah but not Especially rich like I could eat a lot Of That that one's good this one's more Bitter and I really like that it's like Much more deeply chocolate ooh very Different Texture oh that's very boxed cake mix For me honestly if I'm doing layer cake This might be preferable right because You're going to have frosting whereas These I'm like happy to just eat these Like as snacking cakes yeah as snack Cakes the chucke cheesecake the frosting Is not that sweet in my memory so I I do Want my cake to have a good chocolate Flavor on its own I think oh that was Helpful you need a convers like that When you're recipe developing otherwise

You'll go mad because now I really do Think I have a game plan I still love The look and texture of my cake I Envision myself striving for some of the Airiness of Claire's oh the cocoa flavor Of Stellas and the chocolate flavor of Dories it's really a matter of getting To know cocoa powder and chocolate now Now I get to go home and and bake Um montage What's really unique about this recipe Quest is before I even went into the Kitchen to start baking I had so much Information already I started with a Chocolate cherry cake I developed a few Years ago it was solid so it was nice to Start there the only change I had to Make was adjusting the leavers it Started with 2 teaspoons of baking Powder but then we lowered the baking Powder to one teaspoon and then added 3/4 taspo of baking Soda there's also a whipped for mind Icing but I also added some sour cream And a little heavy cream as a test and It split because my butter was way too Cold and to use a hair dryer to really Like bring it all to temperature and oh My God I saved the buttercream I was was Going to throw it away I almost usually Do That let's start Baking unfortunately like every cake Recipe this starts with preparing the

Pans this cake has many steps but each Step is really easy one of my shortcuts Is Precut parchment Rounds one Dutch processed cocoa powder Unsweetened that gives your cake that Dark cookies and cream chocolate Dan I Need 83 G I'm using my scale for this Mostly taking a cup of coffee hot coffee This blooms the cocoa powder opens up The flavor the aroma it's like I need Need about 43 G of this chocolate which Is about 1 and 1/2 oz you can use Whatever chocolate you have um so make Sure it's dark chocolate make sure it's Like 70% cocoa so this is the perfect Gentle heat to melt that chocolate you Know keep whisking it and you'll see That everything Smooths out the Chocolate's melted you know it's thick Smells Incredible the next thing to add olive Oil about a/2 cup not about with baking You have to be size it's half cup and Use a liquid measuring cup I do think an Emulsified batter makes a big difference It's like the combination of two things That shouldn't go together but through Agitation and Through I don't know science or whatever You can combine them and so now that's Pretty smooth right smooth and shiny Okay the next thing is sugar I'm just Adding it you know if you have a scale

That's all you have to do there's Nothing in here that you can over mix so You're just trying to combine everything I'm adding three Eggs I'm adding some sour cream this is Kind of like a sour cream cake I think It's it's Delicious nice love sour cream doesn't Look very sexy right now but oh just you Wait I went from a teaspoon of vanilla To a whole tablespoon and the reason is Not necessarily even the vanilla flavor It's actually for the alcohol I learned While developing my pasta al vaka recipe That the ethanol and alcohol helps you Taste all the other ingredients the Flavor of the other ingredients are Enhanced by the aroma that the alcohol Gives you so that's kind of why I'm Doing this you could add a tablespoon of Bourbon you can add a tablespoon of Scotch anything I think I you do want The vanilla flavor but a whole Tablespoon of vanilla is in this case It's it's for other things it's for the Experience of enjoying the chocolate Flavors in here this is the part where It's going to look like oh this looks Horrible what you do is just break the Yolks and just whisk with whisk try to Combine the ingredients the white Streaks of the sour cream will start to Go away and then you'll have a smooth Batter the dry ingredients are flour

Baking powder baking soda and salt yeah We have to sift So another way that I feel I've really Grown as a person is I sift now I sift Things you don't have to you can add the Dry ingredients to a bowl and whisk it Until smooth but I think Sif it just Ensures that you don't have any pockets Of like flour which sometimes dissolve But a lot of times they don't so if you Want like a more perfect cake just just You have to kind of like take out the Sifter when you get to the End you Just Coes it through and then you need One final to like get the rest Out combine this and this I actually Think dumping it all in first is really Good so you don't over mix I am just Gently whisking like start in the center And then everything will incorporate and What I'm trying to do is remove the Pockets of flour very quickly without Over mixing stir it until it's smooth Now we're going to fill the pans each Layer is about three between 380 and 390 I think so I'm going to start with that And then see where it leads me this Batter makes enough for three 8 in Rounds that's the last C before they go in I'm going to tap These on the counter twice a couple Times and then you'll see like the Bubbles kind of like pop

Up um maybe three times these are going To go to Oven work Quick two on top is good I like that and Then Bottom I hate this oven okay And I feel like this needs exactly 20 Minutes at the 10-minute Mark I'm going To swap the cakes going to put the two On top and the bottom the one on top Frosting the frosting is something that When I'm doing this in my real life I'll Probably do the frosting the next day It's already easy but it just feels even More manageable you only need 3/4 cup of Sugar I'm in my 3/4 cup 3/4 teaspoon era I'm also going to grab some flour 3 tsp Of flour and then Sal salt again I am Trying to break up the flour and I'm Just getting them combined it's fine and Then I'm going to add the milk a cup of Milk just kind of like you know stir That together now this is going to cook On the stove for about 6 Minutes oh the Cake's done let's see how They Look this is definitely done the crack Looks nice there's no chance of it like Dipping in I don't think like it's it's Done I'm going to let let that go for Another minute And back to the Frosting you're cooking out the raw Flour you

Are providing a a base for the butter And you end up with this nice R you're Trying to get Like Glue texture it's Much thicker than a bashal but still has This like translucent quality it's Pretty thick I think she thick I'm Adding it to a the bowl of a stand mixer If you don't have a stand mixer you can Use a hand mixer I would not do this by Hand it's just like a lot have this Going for about 5 minutes so it all like Cools Down there's something about cooling it Down while you're agitating it so just Keep it smooth and not have any gross Like Film the other Cake now it looks good now it has Cracks as a test there's no liquid on Here there's no like wet cake batter if There were then it wouldn't be done this Center of the cake is going to be the Most moist so by letting it cool in the Pan that will redistribute cakes need Time so that's why I like doing this the Night before and I actually do have Cakes in the freezer right now uh okay Layer one layer two layer Three I'm going to let them thaw a Little bit but I think I'm going to Frost these because they're chilled They're going to be less crummy and You'll find that it's easier to frost These than it is to frost these you just

Can't Frost those when they're warm um It's not something you want to Do I'm going to incorporate a cup of Very room temperature butter the butter Needs to be room temperature when I say This I truly mean leave it out overnight If you can as you have seen in the Testing phase if your butter is not room Temp enough your frosting will curdle so I'm just adding like one or two Tablespoons at a time sort of like Waiting for it to Incorporate once all of the butters Incorporated you want to really whip it For a long time like 5 minutes you want To whip this until the yellow butter Becomes blindingly white that's how you Know you've added enough Air looking good I'm going to I'm going Stop there it looks really good I like It let me see what it looks like right Now see how beautiful is it's like a Nice buttercream it's really nice I'm Going to add a teaspoon of Vanilla I'm going to get about 120 g of Sour cream in here This is going to lighten it up give it a Little Flavor just low until it's Incorporated If you mix this too much it could Break being very gentle with it making Sure we're we're looking good Here Done and that is

Finished so good we're going to start Building the cake now so what you do is You take these Basically place the papers at the edges Of the plate so that when the cake is Done frosting you slip them out and then Your cake is like perfect these are my Layers they have been frozen and Thawed just take one of them Bottoms Up Relatively Centered we have our Buttercream this is about a a little Over 1/4 a cup ice cream scoop I find That you need about three of these per Layer and I'm just using the offset Spatula to kind of like spread it out to The edges I'm just trying to make it as Flat as possible but you know doesn't Have to be perfect it just shows you how Fudgy these are these Layers Cox it to the [Music] Sides gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous it's so Moist this top layer technically gets um Three as Well a little extra here for the sides What I love about this part is you know Have to be precious like you're just Filling it in and I actually like when There are some crumbs it reminds me of Cookies and cream the proportion of Frosting that this cake has is like just Right like if there were a thick layer On the sides it'd be too much frosting

I'm happy to say that I'm really happy With it like it looks doesn't look so Good I'm going to I'm going to do the Magic part now we're going to Refrigerate this don't skip This I really think it's important for The cake to be refrigerated so that when You slice into it you'll get like nice Clean lines Don't mess with it too much but I'm kind Of like I don't think anyone will miss This man it's an awesome cake as that Chills I'm going to do some cleanup We're going to pack up and we're going To go surprise my colleague Scott with His birthday Cake we're here we're at Scott's place There's nothing like giving someone a Cake I'm Excited hey hello thank you oh my gosh Is this the cake yeah that is actually All right thank You oh my goodness That is beautiful Eric you you did it This is a beautiful beautiful cake What's really exciting about this cake Is I got it I knew exactly what I wanted It's it's weird to eat a cake and be Like wo this is this is what I remember You use the word Oreo and like that is My favorite food group happy birthday Birthday I feel like I have to say happy Birthday too but happy Birthday oh yeah oh yeah oh

That's so good yeah I could I could eat The whole thing the frosting is milky Like milky not too buttery it's light And soft but then when it's in your Mouth it becomes like fudgy yeah yeah And if you have this cold it's a Different thing too so it's fun and I Just kind of like started respecting the Cake more like all the Bakers in my life Bake beautiful cakes and I always felt Like I couldn't do it there were like Little rules that I used to not have Patience for but now that I slowed down And I was like okay there's a reason all These dumb little things um you end up With something like this and everyone's Like really happy cuz you could have Bought this but you made it yeah anyway Happy birthday [Music]

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