Monday, May 18, 2009

Chocolate Cake (3/24)

I've mentioned before that I get hit by baking cravings. That means I'll just be sitting around minding my own business when a chocolate cake might come up from behind and punch me. It's pretty awesome. I decided on a whim to make this cake with no clear idea of how it was going to get et, and in the middle of the ordeal I get a call from my mom telling me it's my uncle's birthday that night and we're all coming over for dinner. I love my life!


This recipe uses Ina Garten's famous chocolate cake. The cake is soft, rich and oh so chocolatey, with two thick layers sandwiching an oozy strawberry filling. I omitted the coffee in the cake recipe because hey, I'm just not that into coffee flavor in baked goods. Instead I used hot water, which serves the purpose just fine. The idea from the filling came from Katie of Chaos in the Kitchen, which was itself adapted from Deb of Smitten Kitchen. The frosting is a basic chocolate ganache, which was good, but I recommend using a softer, sweeter frosting.

Start by combining dry ingredients (sift the cocoa powder; I use Dutch-processed Valrhona and that stuff gets clumpy).

Give a quick whir.

I never have buttermilk on hand and use this awesome buttermilk powder whenever a recipe calls for it. Just whisk 1/4 cup of powder with 1 cup of water...

Et voilà!

Add remaining wet ingredients (except water) and give them a stir.

Slowly add wet ingredients to dry. When incorporated stir in hot water until just combined, then divide batter evenly into cake pans and bake at 350F for about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring strawberries, sugar and cornstarch to a boil until thickened and allow to cool completely.

For the ganache, heat cream in a saucepan to boiling and pour over chopped bittersweet chocolate. Stir continuously until thick.

Following Joy the Baker's frosting tips, place 1 layer on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting, creating a dam around the edges to try to hold in your runny filling. (She makes it look a lot easier.)

Put way too much filling on the cake and watch a lot of it spill over.

Frost the second layer and carefully place upside-down on first layer, creating a frosting sandwich with the filling.

Use remaining ganache to frost top and sides of the cake, ignoring the mess, and insist that your family eat it.

Moral of the story: If the urge to make a cake hits you, accept it. Embrace it. Eat it. Or, You Never Know When it Might Be Your Uncle's Birthday.


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot water, almost boiling

1 bag frozen strawberries, partially thawed
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch

100 grams heavy cream
125 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the water and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

While the cake is baking, make filling. Give the thawed strawberries a rough chop. In a saucepan, bring strawberries, sugar and cornstarch to a boil, stirring constantly, until thick. Cool completely before spreading over cake layer.

Make ganache by heating cream in a saucepan until boiling. Pour over chocolate and keep stirring until thick and spreadable.

When ready to assemble, prepare first cake layer by spreading about 2/3 cup ganache on top, creating a raised dam around the edge to hold in the filling. Spoon filling onto first layer. Frost second layer thinly, just to protect it from the filling, and place upside-down over first layer. Frost top and sides of cake. Cut a fatty slice and enjoy.

No comments: