sailboatcake.jpgA big thank you to my second guest blogger, Stephanie. She was kind enough to find time in her very busy schedule to write a post for Whipped. What is she so busy with? Changing lives through the non-profit she co-founded and runs,The Pangea Project. Steph is also a lover of good food and drink and Mommy to Carmen, Beckett and Francis (Becket and Francis featured below.)

My husband grew up on the Great Plains of north central Montana surrounded by thousands of acres of wheat and barley, and perhaps due to that flat, landlocked life, he’d always dreamed of sailing around the world. He told me once that his mother always baked him sailboat cakes on his birthdays, and although I try my best not to treat him like his mother, I thought it was a sweet tradition to keep alive.

The first birthday I spent with my husband, I made a 9 x 13 sheet cake and cut out a hull and a sail. I had lots of cake left over and cut out a sun and waves, but still I found myself eating a lot of negative space. In subsequent years, I decorated cupcakes with sailboats, and bought plastic boats to sit on top of cakes like brides and grooms.

This year I baked a chocolate buttermilk cake that got rave reviews for its richness at a birthday bash. Since our Whipped blog-ess loves buttermilk, I thought this was a good one to share. The secret is in the hot, extra-strong coffee that is stirred in just before pouring the batter into the pans. The batter will be among the thinnest you ever worked with, but I promise you that it makes an excellent cake. The finished confection is not a mocha cake; rather, the coffee adds a depth of flavor that people have difficulty identifying. Pardon the poor decorating; I was focused much more on the ingredients rather than the toppings while at the grocery store.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

3 c unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 c sugar
1 T + 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c unsweetened cocoa powder, best quality
1 1/3 c canola oil
1 1/2 c buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 c freshly brewed, extra-strong hot coffee
1 tsp vanilla
24 oz chocolate chips
1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray, then line with parchment paper.

Place flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa in a large mixing bowl. using an electric mixer, mix on low to combine. Keeping the mixer on low, add oil, buttermilk, then eggs one at a time. Add hot coffee in a thin stream, pouring down the side of the bowl. Add vanilla and mix until batter is smooth. Divide into pans and bake until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs, about 35- 40 minutes. Let cool in pans for at least 20 minutes.


Create a double boiler and bring water in the bottom pan to a boil. Place chocolate chips and cream in a pan set atop the simmering water. Allow mixture to melt. When chocolate has melted, stir with a whisk. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

Remove cakes from pans and place one layer on a serving plate. Trim the top away to flatten out the surface and place a scoop of ganache in the middle. Smooth it out to the edges with a spatula. Trim the top off the other layer of cake and center it on the first layer, pressing gently. Spread ganache on the top and all around the sides. If you would like to add a second layer of ganache, refrigerate the cake for no more than 15 minutes before adding a second coat. Decorate like a sailboat.