floral christmas cake


“Why did Lena make a Christmas cake if she’s Jewish?”

“Why is Lena posting a Christmas cake on January 18th?”

“Why hasn’t Lena posted anything in five months?”

Good questions, reader! First off, I made this cake for a friend to bring to a Christmas party. I spent Christmas Day driving to New Jersey with my family, so don’t worry, still full on Jew.

I’m posting this (very) late because, well, I figure better late than never, and the only thing strictly *Christmas-y* about this cake is the tree in the center, so I think it could be made year-round. You can replace the tree with whatever you want — a birthday message, some fresh flowers, a little fondant minion from Despicable Me — truly anything.

Finally, I haven’t been posting as much because I’ve been super busy! That’s not a great excuse, but I am a full-time college student who runs a business, and I also had two internships last semester: one at an NC-based newspaper called Indy Week, where I was writing about food and music and my terrible wisdom tooth extraction experience, and one at the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, where I was doing communications stuff.

But I’m back! This recipe is dedicated to my dad, who has been cooking a lot because what the fuck else are you supposed to do when you work for the government and it’s been shut down for 28 DAYS I’M SO ANGR—



  • 1.5 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup hot coffee
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt

vanilla buttercream

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp milk or heavy cream


  • food coloring
  • gold dragées
  • edible gold stars
  • chocolate chips

for the cake, preheat the oven to 300º. grease a half-sheet pan and line with parchment paper. pour the hot coffee over the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and let sit for a few minutes, until the chocolate has melted, then stir until smooth. beat the eggs in a stand mixer until thick and lemon colored. add in the chocolate mixture, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. mix in the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. mix until well incorporated. pour the batter into the pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until just set. let cool completely in the pan.

for the vanilla buttercream, combine the butter, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and cream them together on medium high until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. add the vanilla and milk or cream and mix for another few minutes.

to assemble, use a 6-inch cake ring to stamp out 3 circles from the cake. clean the cake ring, and place it on a cutting board or sheet pan, then use a strip of acetate, wax paper, or parchment paper to line the inside of the cake ring. place one circle in the cake ring and use the back of a spoon to spread some buttercream over the cake. repeat twice. fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip with vanilla buttercream and pipe a border around the edge of the cake. dye the remaining frosting with the food coloring (whatever colors you want!) transfer to piping bags fitted with small round and star tips, and pipe some flowers onto the cake. place gold dragées in the middle of the flowers and sprinkle gold stars around the edge of the cake. if you’d like to include the christmas tree in the center, pipe it with green frosting and a round tip, and for the trunk, melt the chocolate chips in a ziplock bag, snip off the corner of the bag, and pipe it on. transfer the sheet pan to the freezer, and freeze four at least 6 hours to set the cake. serve at room temperature.

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