Tuesday, April 29, 2008

my chocolate cake philosophy

My husband was at a camp for most of the weekend. I had a bologna sandwhich for dinner on Friday night and Saturday lunch. At least it was on homemade bread, right? I actually love bologna and mayonaise on white bread. Anyway, I wanted to make something very special for Mr. Anderson and he has a worse sweet tooth than I do. Hard to believe since I have a terrible sweet tooth. He really liked this chocolate cake. A chocolate layer cake just for him since he considers bundt cakes to be "not a real cake" and like I said I wanted it to be special.

If you look closely, you will see that there are small lumps of unincorporated butter throughout my chocolate buttercream. No matter how much I mixed, it was not perfect. This was for me one of those moments where I had to stop and think about perfection and throwing food away or just eating it as is. Obviously, I chose eating as is. What's more, I am putting a picture of it here on my blog. I am learning to think about food like I think about sewing - it is the imperfections that make homemade items so wonderful.

It really is very important to bring the refridgerated items to room temperature before mixing. I promise it will yield a fluffier cake.

For the cake part -

1 ½ cups of AP flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 ¼ cups of boiling water (for accuracy, bring a full kettle to the boil and then measure into a 2 cup measure)
4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chopped
½ cup of Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of instant espresso
10 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups of packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup of sour cream, room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray, then dust with cocoa powder and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the boiling water, chocolate, cocoa powder, and instant espresso together until smooth.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla until incorporated.

Reduce the speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the chocolate mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining flour mixture, and the remaining chocolate mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until just incorporated.

Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the tops, and gently tap the pans on the counter to settle the batter. I like to spin my cake pans gently to keep them from getting a dome on top. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating and switching the pans halfway through baking.

Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cakes, then flip them out onto wire racks. Peel off the parchment paper, flip the cakes right side up, and let cool completely before frosting, at least 2 hours.

For the buttercream frosting

4 large eggs
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Pinch of table salt
1 pound unsalted butter cut into chunks
6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, melted

Combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl of standing mixer; place bowl over pan of simmering water. Whisking gently but constantly, heat mixture until thin and foamy and registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer.

Beat egg mixture on medium-high speed with whisk attachment until light, airy, and cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add butter, one piece at a time. (After adding half the butter, buttercream may look curdled; it will smooth with additional butter.) Once all butter is added, increase speed to high and beat 1 minute until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined. Stir in melted chocolate. (Can be covered and refrigerated up to 5 days.)

This recipe makes more buttercream than I want on my cake, so I can use the extra for sweet cupin' cakes!

No comments: