Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Double Chocolate Layer Cake

This year for her birthday, my daughter specifically requested a chocolate cake with white frosting. I know what you're thinking...doesn't she realize how much harder it is to frost a dark cake with light frosting?! There's just so much I still need to teach her. Anyway, when she said chocolate cake, I immediately thought of one I'd seen on The Today Show and always wanted to try.

But then I also thought of the daisy cake my friend Elizabeth had made recently and how good that was and reconsidered. I kept waffling. But since I had wondered about the first recipe for so long, I went ahead and made that one. It wasn't until after I baked it, that I looked at Elizabeth's recipe and discovered that they were the same!  Of all the chocolate cakes in the world...I guess it truly was meant to be. I did make mine with different frosting than the original recipe (per the birthday girl's request). I'm sure it's great with the original chocolate ganache.

Let me warn you right now; this cake a behemoth. The original recipe says it serves 12-14 (maybe 12-14 lumberjacks who have been stranded on a desert island for 30 days). I think it easily serves 20 party-goers (who probably all had breakfast, lunch and party food that day).

Serves 20

3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
filling/frosting of choice (about 5-6 cups)

1.      Preheat oven to 300° F. and grease two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans (or three 9-inch round cake pans). Line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.
2.      Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
3.      Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
4.      Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature. Fill/decorate as desired.

slightly adapted from Engine Co. No. 28, Los Angeles CA (Gourmet, March 1999)

dry ingredients
cracking an egg
beaten eggs
coffee/chocolate mixture added
mixing in the dry ingredients

I like to slowly mix some in by hand before turning
the mixer back on to avoid getting floured (or cocoa powdered)
in the face (that's a lesson you learn the hard way).
pouring batter into pan
I didn't have 10-inch pans, so I used three 9-inch pans
instead. If I had made two 10-inch layers, I probably would
have sliced them each in half and made a four-layer cake.
baked layers cooling
peeling off the parchment

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Yield: about 4 1/4 cups (enough to frost an 8” layer cake)

4 large egg whites at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces and softened
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract

1.      Combine egg whites and salt in bowl of a standing electric mixer or other large bowl.
2.      Stir together sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved and washing down side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. When syrup reaches a boil, start beating whites with electric mixer at medium-high speed. Once whites are frothy, add lemon juice and beat at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. (Do not beat again until sugar syrup is ready—see below.)
3.      Meanwhile, put thermometer into sugar syrup and continue boiling, without stirring, until it reaches soft-ball stage (238–242° F). Immediately remove from heat and slowly pour hot syrup in a thin stream down side of bowl into egg whites, beating constantly at high speed. Beat meringue, scraping down bowl with a rubber spatula, until meringue is cool to the touch, about 6 minutes. (It's important that meringue is fully cooled before proceeding.)
4.      With mixer at medium speed, gradually add butter 1 piece at a time, beating well after each addition until incorporated. (If meringue is too warm and buttercream looks soupy after some butter is added, chill bottom of bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and cold water for a few seconds before continuing to beat in remaining butter.) Continue beating until buttercream is smooth. (Mixture may look curdled before all butter is added, but will come back together before beating is finished.) Add coconut extract and beat 1 minute more.

Can be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered, or 1 month ahead and frozen. Bring to room temperature (do not use a microwave) and beat with an electric mixer before using.

from Gourmet, April 2001
frothy egg whites
sugar syrup boiling
soft peaks
pouring in the hot sugar syrup
meringue beating

This is really high because I made a double batch
(I had no idea how I was going to decorate the cake
and I wanted to make sure I had enough).
When you add the butter, the meringue does deflate
(so if you make a double batch like I did, don't worry,
it shouldn't overflow).
You can use any flavor extract you want (but try
not to spill way too much in by accident...it definitely
makes it taste a little funny). Yet another lesson
I learned the hard way.
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My daughter liked the idea of filling the cake with
chocolate pudding (store-bought in this case;
I recommend Kozy Shack). So I piped some buttercream
around the perimeter (thicker than usual to ensure
the pudding would not ooze out the sides).
layer #2
One layer came out slightly higher than the other two.
I thought about slicing a little off the top to make them more
even, but I just put it in the middle as is (the clock was ticking
and I still didn't know how I was going to decorate the outside).
filling on top of layer #2
layer #3
applying the crumb coat (that's the first layer
of frosting that cements down all the loose crumbs)
crumb coat (refrigerate for at least 30 minutes)
You can see some crumbs, but now they won't get into the second layer.
second layer of frosting (no crumbs or cake visible)
starting to decorate

 I decided last minute to go with a fish theme because we're
celebrating my daughter's birthday again this weekend with friends
at the aquarium (this cake was just for the family dinner). I
think we needed a few more families to come over and help us finish it!


deedy said...

Oh My! That looks fantastic....poor Hunter and Taylor both ended up with Walmart cakes.
Next year I'll get you to make them and ship them down!

By the way, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADDIE!!!!! We love and miss you!!!

Susan said...

Better yet, I'll make Hunter and Taylor cakes and you ship them here :)

Elizabeth (Foodie, Formerly Fat) said...

I got my recipe from Smitten Kitchen! I wonder if she got it from the Today Show! It just proves that no one can really own a recipe. If you play around long enough in the kitchen the stuff that works will get replicated.

The cake is gorgeous, by the way.

Andria Crowjoy said...

Happy birthday to Maddie and happy birthing day to you! I'm not sure I'll ever get used to/remember/actually catch a birthday in April before yours. :/

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