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Martha's Favorite

Edward Kostyra's Birthday Cake

This orange-curd-filled cake topped with Mrs. Milman's chocolate frosting was Martha's father's favorite. Make it as a birthday treat for someone special in your life.

  • Yield: Makes one 8-inch layer cake
Edward Kostyra's Birthday Cake

Source: Martha Bakes, January 2011


For the Frosting

  • 16 ounces semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
  • 2 2/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup

For the Cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

For the Orange Curd

  • 12 large egg yolks
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks), plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces


  1. Make the frosting: Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Pour over chocolate and let sit, undisturbed, for 3 minutes. Gently whisk until combined and smooth. Whisk in the corn syrup.

  2. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer ganache to refrigerator and chill, stirring frequently and scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula, until slightly stiff and cool enough to spread, about 1 hour. If frosting becomes too firm, briefly place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until desired consistency is reached. Frosting should be smooth and spreadable, but not runny.

  3. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then beat in vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition.

  5. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto the rack; peel off the parchment. Re-invert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.

  6. Make the orange curd: Combine yolks, orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let mixture come to a vigorous simmer and cook, continually scraping sides of pan, for 2 minutes.

  7. Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. If desired, strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin forming. Refrigerate until chilled and very firm, at least 2 hours or up to 1 1/2 weeks.

  8. Assemble cake: Using a serrated knife, trim the tops of the cakes to make level. Split each layer into two, for a total of four. Place bottom layer on a rotating cake stand and with an offset spatula, carefully top with 1/2 cup of orange curd, leaving a 1-inch border. Place the second cake layer on top, spread with another 3/4 cup of the orange curd. Repeat with the third layer; top with the final cake layer. Insert 3 wooden skewers into the top of the cake to secure.

  9. For the crumb coat, spread the entire cake with a thin coat of frosting using an offset spatula. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

  10. Spread the entire cake with remaining frosting, swirling to coat in a decorative fashion. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered with a cake dome. Let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.

Reviews (25)

  • Lex 19 May, 2014

    My new favorite cake! I took other commenters' advice about the frosting and cut the cream down to 2 cups, that was a mistake, the frosting is a bit too hard now. Made everything else exactly as the recipe stated and it came out perfectly. I used 2 8" pans 2" tall and it barely baked up to the rim, the orange curd is DELICIOUS and I'm glad I have some extra.

  • Katie Geno 22 Apr, 2014

    Very tasty, if fussy. Orange curd was great, though I think it doesn't need as much butter as the recipe called for; I only got through two sticks of the cubed butter before the butter, plus the stirring, brought the curd down to room temperature and the curd could no longer melt the butter. Absolutely delicious, though, and holds a very nice shape. Like other reviewers, I reduced the cream in the ganache down to 1C, and got a firm but spreadable (and pipeable) ganache. Will make again.

  • Big Timus 1 Feb, 2014

    Not sure what people are doing wrong. My frosting turned out as expected. Make sure you are stir it a couple of times when you are chilling it in the fridge and also don't place it in the fridge until it reaches room temp. I used 8" pan from Williams and Sonoma which are pretty deep (2") and mine cake didn't overlflow. I haven't tasted it yet but the only thing that went wrong was that one of my layers started to fall apart when I was cutting it in two.

  • Adrianaz 15 Jan, 2014

    If using an 8 inch pan, make sure it is at least 2 inches deep, otherwise the cake will ooze out of the top. Otherwise, a 9 inch pan works too.

    The frosting worked well for me. I used heavy cream and a darker chocolate.

  • bogster76 22 Sep, 2013

    I made this cake for my 3 year-old`s birthday and it came out DELICIOUS. I would definitely make it again! I have read some reviews before I decided which cake I was going to make and somebody was saying the ganache came out too runny. Someone else said it was perfect.
    I have to agree with LEAH7058 - the ganache was way too runny. Let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours and it still was runny. Next time, I would definitely try using less and maybe go with what she suggested. :-)

  • kingscrown 15 Sep, 2013

    I've made the frosting recipe many times. Definitely way too much cream. Used 2 cups and still my frosting is pretty soft. Cake batter is too much for 2-8 inch pans. Maybe 2-9 inch pans would work better. I just put the extra batter into a mini loaf pan and we sampled the baked mini cake before the big cake unveiling for my son's birthday. He loves orange chocolate and this cake with it's filling and chocolate frosting really hit the spot. It was super yummy. Would definitely make again.

  • Cdiep1 30 May, 2013

    This cake came out perfect I added a teaspoon of almond extract to it and i frosted with chocolate hazelnut frosting it taste heavenly! Thank you!

  • Leah7058 13 Apr, 2013

    I think there is a mistake in the frosting recipe--I used 1 1/3 cups of cream and it worked perfectly! This is the same ratio of cream to chocolate as my other ganache recipes.

  • Leah7058 13 Apr, 2013

    The frosting is a ganache, so it should be "runny" to a certain degree (at least when it's hot). My usual ganache recipe is 10 oz chocolate to 1 cup cream. This ratio works for me!

  • deeredonna1 8 Apr, 2013

    8" cake pans are definitely too small for this recipe. The cake ran all over the top of the pans and make a mess in the oven. What a huge disappointment.

  • Mary Blackledge Corroo 1 Apr, 2013

    To follow up, the frosting did not set for me either. Even after refrigerating overnight, it stayed the consistency of a glaze. I simply used it as a glaze. I think the proportion of cream to chocolate is off. I used chocolate chips. Maybe that messed it up. I didn't try to fix it because the glaze still tasted good. I definitely make this delicious cake again because the curd is super. I'll just look for a similar frosting with different proportions.

  • Mary Blackledge Corroo 28 Mar, 2013

    I haven't eaten or even assembled the cake yet. I can't contain my enthusiasm lol. I made the cake and the curd today. I sampled of the top of the cake that I leveled off and tasted a bit of the curd. They're both very yummy!! I'm a little concerned about other reviewers calling the frosting runny. I'm going to make the recipe as is. I'll plan longer for it to set in the fridge. If for some reason it doesn't set I'll simply reheat it and add a bit more chocolate. I'm so jazzed about this cake!!

  • Warren AWM 15 Dec, 2012

    I made this cake for a special friend of mine. It's the first cake I ever did! But I just followed the exact recipe and everything turned out great!!! I also did a little stop motion how I made it, you can find it on youtube if you search for "Edward Kostyra's Birthday Cake". It was a YUMMIE CAKE!

  • Warren AWM 15 Dec, 2012

    This is the first Cake I have ever done! It made it as a present for a very special person... I just followed the exact recipe and everything turned out great! I also did a little stop motion of me baking this cake, you can view it here:

  • PillHill 8 Nov, 2012

    This cake should never have been baked in an 8" pan. It ran over the edge and down into my oven. What a mess. Had to make it a second time in 9" pans. Also, the frosting wouldn't hold together. If this was her fathers favorite cake, should you have put more thought into pan size and frosting?! Wast of time and money.

  • Kaye 26 Sep, 2012

    I made the frosting just as the recipe suggested and it ended up runny. After 3 hours of waiting for it to set up I finally put it in the mixer and whipped it up. I was very disappointed.

  • Lisa Jones 26 Sep, 2012

    The icing was runny. This was the worst cake I have ever made. YUCK with a capital Y! Wasted time and money!

  • madtoo 26 Aug, 2012

    I'm a Martha wannabe! This the first home made cake that I made that was great. It took Martha 30 minutes on TV to make this cake and it took me all day. I did not want to mess up this cake as it was to be my birthday cake. I. had my husband buy a second cake in case it did not come out right..After the party my guest took home leftover cake that I made and the bought cake was left behind. Thank you Martha for a great birthday cake recipe.. I will do it again and in less time.

  • mmsommie 24 Feb, 2012

    My frosting is runny!! How do I save it?

  • ecbandeira 11 Nov, 2011

    I made this cake for my son's 1st birthday party back in April 2011 in the shape of a monkey's head from this web site. It came out awesome. Everyone loved it. The frosting is so easy to make. I will definitely make this again.

  • Meneka 5 Nov, 2011

    This cake is truly delicious ! First time I made a cake using the US measurements without converting. The directions are very easy to follow. Yummy :)

  • JMCahn 3 Mar, 2011

    I will be baking this cake for a party I am hosting next week for my women friends! Can't wait! I love to BAKE!

  • MSLO_Melissa 10 Feb, 2011

    If you click on the "print" icon above the image of the cake, a printer-friendly version of the recipe will appear on your screen. Hope that helps!

  • catdoll 6 Feb, 2011

    This is darleene Iwould love to make this cake . But i can not print it out, The same with the other one. thank you

  • catdoll 6 Feb, 2011

    Iwould like a copes of your recipes . but i can not . dareene

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