A Fortieth Birthday Cake

Because you know, it’s like you’re dying; turning forty. At least that’s the joke. Anyway, I had fun making this one. I hadn’t made a sheet cake in awhile, maybe not since Didier’s 39th birthday cake a year ago. The cake itself was a lemon sponge, the filling vanilla butt cream and fresh blueberries and raspberries. The coffin is made from the same, minus the berries, and glazed with chocolate and crusted with cocoa nibs. I made the tombstone out of chocolate shortbread.

The cake was well recieved, and the party was well attended; as all the Porteaud parties are. Kara and Didier Porteau are two of the most beloved people I know, an integral part of the family that adopted me at Ten-01. The party included much eating, drinking, and merriment, and I did a good amount of what I like to call “dancing.” Didier was a real sport about the cake, and there was much hugging and high-fiving long before I reached the “I love you man” stage, which was inevitable. When the numerous candles were finally blown out, we lowered the coffin into the grave before eating.

Lemon Sponge Cake

makes 6 1/2 sheet cakes

  • 12 eggs
  • 5 - 3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 tsp vanilla
  • 1 jar of mayonnaise
  • 12 cups AP flour
  • 4 - 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 - 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 - 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 - 1/2 cups lemon juice
  • zest of 8 lemons

Measure the eggs, sugar, vanilla, mayo, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. This probably won’t fit in your standard Kitchen Aid, you may want to halve it. Whip this mixture on medium high until light and fluffy, about 6-8 minutes. It can really just keep whipping. Whip the shit out of it as they say.

While the eggs are having the shit whipped out of them, sift together the AP flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Zest and juice the lemons. Measure the milk.

On low speed, add the wet and dry ingredients in three steps, alternating between the two. Start and end with the dry ingredients. When it’s all in, kick the mixer up to medium to ensure total incorporation.

Line six half sheet pans with parchment. Divide the batter evenly between the pans. I weigh each, 34 ounces is a nice amount for a layer. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven until GBD, rotating once during baking; about 12 - 18 minutes total.

16 Responses

  1. Kara said on 2 Jul 2011 at 2:46 pm

    The cake was perfect and yummy! Thanks again
    to my favorite pastry chef in the world! I love you Jeff and you are an amazing dancer!

  2. mrjeffmccarthy said on 3 Jul 2011 at 12:46 pm

    @Kara, thanks girl, love you guys, too!!

  3. tony said on 6 Jul 2011 at 4:16 am

    How awesome. Love the hole!

  4. mrjeffmccarthy said on 6 Jul 2011 at 12:29 pm

    @tony Don’t we all love a good hole?

  5. tony said on 7 Jul 2011 at 4:21 am

    Amen brother!

  6. Neil said on 10 Jul 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Dude… that cake is SICK. Literally…. :-) Naw, that is the shiz. Your work, even when whimsical, is super precise. Rad! I want one on my 40th…. oh, wait… already happened :-(

  7. Lauren T said on 12 Jul 2011 at 10:28 am

    This cake is fucking hilarious. And looks delish too ;)

  8. mrjeffmccarthy said on 27 Jul 2011 at 3:00 pm

    @Neil - Thanks mister, I’ve gotta be me…Shit is TO SCALE dogg!

    @Lauren- Thanks girl! thanks for reading.

  9. Kayla said on 1 Mar 2013 at 6:36 pm

    My sister wants this for her birthday so bad. What is the gravestone and the top of the coffin made out of??

  10. mrjeffmccarthy said on 7 Mar 2013 at 9:30 am

    @Kayla- Thanks! I used a chocolate shortbread to make the gravestone.

  11. Janet McConnaughey said on 16 Mar 2013 at 11:24 am

    Beautifully done! The crumbs used as grave dirt are a wonderful touch.

    (um, there’s a typo in your ingredient description. At least, I hope it’s a typo.)

  12. cindy said on 20 Mar 2013 at 4:43 pm

    so great!!!

  13. mrjeffmccarthy said on 28 Mar 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks everyone who landed here from reddit. I wish I had got that karma instead of whom ever posted it there

    @Janet - typo? you mean Jar of mayo? not a typo

  14. Michelle said on 11 Jul 2013 at 8:38 pm

    i have a feeling she was referring to the vanilla butt cream ;P However, I am SO excited to make this for a 50th birthday! Love it!

  15. Zombie Recipe Ideas - Apocalypse Party - A Helicopter Mom said on 10 Aug 2013 at 8:21 pm

    [...] 14. Empty Grave Cake [...]

  16. mrjeffmccarthy said on 5 May 2015 at 9:47 am

    Found this whilst looking for something else, proving the never ending and far reaching impact of this blog

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