Posts Tagged Cake
This cake was inspired by the brilliant guys of Baked. I say inspired by, because I hardly kept anything the same. I did use the huge amount of water in the batter, and I held to their fat-lour ratio, but that’s really about it. I didn’t use the same fats, or even the same flours. My obsession with brown sugar struck again, and I even opted for a different frosting since I’ve always wanted to try an egg yolk buttercream.
It was delicious, but if you live in the South, you should learn from my mistake and never make a buttercream in July. Especially not for a cake you have to cart to work two cities from your kitchen. That frosting will melt, and you will watch your happy little frosting stars turn into yellow slime. On the plus side, the molten frosting did soak into the (already velvet-soft) cake and made it even moister. Also, even though there’s a whole cup of malt powder in there, the flavor is surprisingly subtle. Mr. B does not care for malt at all, and even he clamored for a piece of this cake.
Ingredients (makes a 3-tier 8-inch cake. Serves 12)
For the cake:
3 cups flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1 cup malt powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 T vanilla extract
2 cups cold water
4 large egg whites
For the frosting:
4 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 T vanilla extract
nutmeg to taste
Whoppers, for garnish
Cream sour cream and butter together.
Add sugars and mix them in, too.
Sift dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, malt powder) into the butter and sugars. I know, it’s really dry. It’ll be okay.
Pour the water over the batter, wait about 30 seconds for it to start soaking in
Mix the water in thoroughly.
Separate egg whites from yolks.
Whip the heck out of those whites. It’s a good way to get aggression out.
Fold the whites into the batter until only a few faint streaks of egg white remain.
Pour the batter evenly among three buttered and parchment papered pans. Bake at 325°F for 40-45 minutes. Once the cakes are cooling, get started on the buttercream.
Bring the sugar and water to a boil over high heat. Bring it to the soft ball stage.
While the sugar is cooking, put the four yolks in a bowl.
Whip the yolks until they’re very pale and increased in volume. This takes about 8 minutes. Don’t get too excited, they’re not egg whites and they don’t fluff up.
Pour the sugar syrup into the yolk, beating constantly. I use a hand mixer, so pictures weren’t really an option here. Keep beating the sugar-and-yolks until they’re room temperature. This can also take a few minutes. Someday, I will purchase a stand mixer and stop hurting my poor books by reading while mixing.
Cut the butter into the frosting base and mix well.
Add the vanilla and nutmeg and mix again.
It would be a good idea to chill the buttercream and probably the cakes, too at this point. I’m lazy. I didn’t.
Spread a layer of frosting over a layer of cake. Ring the cake with malt balls.
Place the second cake layer on top, spread on some more frosting, more Whoppers, and the last layer, etc.
Pipe some extra frosting into shapes. This is more effective if your cake, frosting, and kitchen aren’t well above buttercream melting point, but oh well. No one seemed to mind the ugly cake. Next time, I’ll use a cream cheese frosting. Way more stable.
Coconut. My ancient foe. Why anyone would want to eat the chalky white innards of a nut that lives, smug as you please, at the top of a very non-climbing-friendly tree just waiting to detach itself and smash your car? Stupid coconuts.
But since I just can’t say no when a fierce little Russian asks for a coconut and chocolate cake for her birthday, I opened the Baked cookbook to the page I thought I’d never use.
Honestly, I’m glad I did. Not because of the coconut filling. I didn’t even deign to try that part. But the chocolate cake was revelatory. I ate the bits I had to shave off to flatten the layers for stacking, and even though those bits were all edge (the driest part of the cake, yes?) this was the moistest cake I’ve ever made. Those shavings were delightful with peanut butter. Were I less of a drama queen, I might have even enjoyed a slice of the cake. But let’s face it, I’m not going to eat coconut voluntarily.
I adapted the Baked recipe pretty heavily, which I don’t usually do. I didn’t use pecans in the filling, for one. I used milk instead of buttermilk, instant espresso powder instead of coffee, and substituted some of the granulated sugar out in favor of brown sugar. In other words, don’t blame Lewis and Poliafito if you don’t like this cake; I did change it up. But if you like coconut (or want to use a peanut-butter cream cheese frosting instead of a coconut filling), I recommend this cake. It’s so moist it needs no frosting, light enough to happily absorb liquid (you know, in case you want to soak some coffee liqueur into it) and, one of the perks of a three-layer cake, it feeds even a ravenous group quite nicely.
Ingredients (makes a 3-layer cake, serves about 12)
For the cake:
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cups cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 cup milk
2 1/2 sticks (20 T) butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup boiling water
3 T instant espresso powder
4 oz. dark chocolate
For the filling:
2 2/3 cups shredded coconut
1 cup sugar
1 stick (8 T) butter
1 5-oz can evaporated milk
3 oz milk
3 egg yolks
1 t vanilla extract
Line three eight-inch cake pans with parchment paper, and butter the paper and sides of the pans. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Put the dark chocolate and espresso powder into a small bowl,
and pour 1 cup of boiling water over them. Wait 1 minute (yes, 60 whole seconds) then whisk the mixture together until smooth. Set the hot chocolate coffee aside. Try not to think how amazing it would be as a drink.
Beat the butter and sugar together, add eggs and beat again, add vanilla and beat one more time.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt over the butter-sugar-egg mix.
Pour the milk into the coffee-chocolate mix.
Pour the now eminently drinkable mixture over the rest of the batter and mix until homogeneous.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and shimmy the pans around a little to get the batter even in height.
Bake about 30 minutes, and set them aside to cool while you make the filling.
For the custard, toast half the coconut. Just spread it in a sheet pan and bake for less than five minutes at 350°F.
If you don’t know how to measure 3 ounces of milk, cheat. Pout the 5-ounce can of evaporated milk into a 1 cup measuring cup. Add milk till the measuring cup is full. Tada! Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the milk, sugar, vanilla, and yolks, and whisk together.
Once it starts boiling hard, pour the custard into a bowl sitting in an ice bath and whisk in the coconut, both the toasted and non-toasted half.
Stir the filling until it is room temperature. Then you’re ready to build your cake! Just level the tops of the cake layers with a bread knife, stack one on your serving plate (or just a sheet of parchment paper if you’re me), spread 1/3 of the coconut filling over the layer, stack on layer 2, add another 1/3 of the coconut, stack on the final layer, spread on the rest of the coconut, and you’re done. no frosting required. I sprinkled a handful of extra coconut over the top because I thought it looked nicer than just the cooked filling, but you don’t have to.
Enjoy on its own or with ice cream.
Since I’m gearing up for Passover, and I made a flourless cake a week or so ago, it seems like a good time to share. Now, I did make this cake well before the holiday, and I would like to note that it contains a good spike of liquor. I used whiskey, because Mr. B drank the coffee liqueur, and because I do enjoy whiskey. Whiskey is not kosher for Passover, though, so either omit the alcohol or use a non-grain alcohol if you’re making this for the holiday!
I went through a few recipes while decided how I wanted to make this. My first instinct when baking tends to be the New Best Recipe, but in instance it definitely let me down. I knew even from the description before the recipe that whatever they were making was not going to work for me, as they wanted a cross between a mousse and a cheesecake and I wanted, well, cake. Hence the name of the dish. Flourless cake. I thought the eight eggs they asked for was too much, and wrapping a springform pan in foil to bake it in a water bath? WAY too finicky for me!
So then I looked for the cake my grandma made while I was in Florida last month. It was dense and rich but still definitely a cake–or at least a brownie on steroids. But her cake (from the NY Times) wasn’t completely flourless, which seems like a bit of a cheat and also unfair to my gluten-free friends. So I worked out a compromise.
Ingredients (makes 1 9 inch cake. Serves about 12, or 6 plus my stepdad. He is a chocolate fiend.)
1 pound bittersweet or dark chocolate*
10 T (1 1/4 sticks) butter
3 T brown sugar
6 eggs, separated
1/4 cup liquor or liqueur of your choice. I recommend coffee or mint flavored, or whatever you like with chocolate. Omit this if you like.
*Use the best chocolate you can find. If you don’t like the chocolate plain, you won’t like the cake. I used a block of 70% Callebaut. If you don’t like chocolate that dark, go lighter. If you, like Mr. B, eat 100% baking chocolate and cacao nibs plain, go darker.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Butter a nine-inch cake pan, line it with parchment paper, and butter the parchment.
Chop the chocolate and plop it into a simmering double boiler.
Add the butter in chunks.
Stir to melt it all together. . .
. . .then pour in the alcohol.
Stir that together, too.
Set the mixture aside to cool while you whisk together yolks and sugar.
Whip the egg whites to nice peaky peaks.
Mix the warm chocolate mixture into the yolk and sugar bowl, then fold in the whites about 1/3 at a time.
Then pour the batter into a buttered and parchment lined cake pan
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 425°F. I went with 25 minutes, and the edges were a tad burned.
Serve with ice cream or a sweet, crunchy meringue.
It comes out spectacular. Still warm, with coffee ice cream, it turns to deep, bitter liquid in your mouth, like an amazingly dark chocolate sauce. Yet when you first bite into it, what you first notice is the distinct crumb. It’s a real cake. It feels like a real cake when you bite it. Only after a few delightful chews does it reveal itself as a dark and beautiful confection. The next day, with meringues, it was just as good. I’d say this keeps well about three days–better to serve it all when you first make it, because it’s best still warm, but still delicious later.
All right, I know St. Paddy’s day was yesterday. Which is why I made this cake yesterday. But I bet there are some people out there with an Irish stout or two left in the fridge and no desire to ever drink again. And frankly, this cake is fun to make. You get to stand over the stove cackling and inhaling the chocolate infused fumes of Guinness. Okay, maybe I have too much fun in the kitchen. The recipe is pretty nuch Nigella’s–I think. Her website is all metric and by weight, so instead of using a simple internet converter, I guestimated the ratios based on my own devil’s food cake and increased things to make it a two layer mostrosity rather than Nigella’s relatively moderate single layer. I subbed in some brown sugar, as usual. I thought about using molasses
instead as well, but I worried the bitterness of the stout didn’t need any help. I was actually wrong about that, so next time molasses is in.
Ingredients (Makes 2 eight-inch rounds, and serves more than you’d think. This sucker is rich.)
1 1/2 cups (1 12-ounce bottle) stout (I used Guinness extra stout)
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 T vanilla
3 cups flour
1 T baking soda
Put a good stock pot (let’s say 6 quarts at least) on the stove and heat it up to medium. Pour in the stout and let the foam subside while your husband mutters something about “crazy” and “sacrilege” and “cooking beer.” Ignore him, he doesn’t know any better. Add the butter in chunks and whisk until it melts.
Stir in the cocoa powder. I couldn’t get a good picture of this because it steamed like crazy. This, incidentally, is when the cackling happened. Those fumes smelled awesome. Awesome and evil. Add in the sugars and whisk vigorously until it is fully dissolved.
I whisked little waves of the mix up the sides of my pot to see if there were still any granules holding out. It seemed to work. Turn off the heat now, you don’t need it anymore and it could mess with your eggs. Stir in the sour cream and beat the eggs in a little bowl while the mixture cools a bit.
When the mixture has cooled enough that you aren’t afraid to touch it with your fingers, whisk in the eggs and vanilla. I can’t stress enough that the batter can’t still be steaming. You do not want scrambled eggs mixed into your batter, so it has to be cool enough not to cook the eggs on contact.
Sift in flour and baking soda, and whisk again. The completed batter should be thick and fairly smooth.
Heat the oven to 350°F while you prepare the cake pans. Butter both 8-inch pans, then line them with parchment paper. Then you butter the parchment paper, too. This used to drive me crazy, until I figured out how to do it without crumpling the parchment.
Yep, I put the cake pan on a hot burner and let the butter get a bit melty. Works like a charm. Though I’m guessing no one else has ever had this particular problem before. Now divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
The pans end up being quite full, so be careful when transferring them to the oven. Bake at 350°F for about 40 minutes.They will rise to be rather domed. We’ll handle that in a bit.
Let them cool completely before flipping them out onto plates. Level at least one of the cakes, pour about half a cup of caramel over it, top with the other cake (I didn’t level it, just plopped it dome side down.) and add another half cup of caramel.
It is dense and moist and dark and sweet all at once. Everyone seems to want to top stout cakes with thick, fluffy buttercream or cream cheese icing, “to mimic the head on a stout beer,” but I say this way is better, the rich caramel soaking in to every bite without being to cloyingly sweet. It brings out the hint of stout flavor–and despite the whole bottle of stout in the recipe, it is only a hint–and adds its own near-burnt complexity to the mix. Did I mention that I always let my caramel almost burn? The last moment between caramel and charred mess is the most delicious. If you’re using jarred caramel, we’re done here. If you want to make your own, though (and you should!), join me tomorrow and I’ll show you how.
I love devil’s food cake. Because I love chocolate, and devil cake has two kinds of it in the batter, plus chocolate frosting, and some chocolate candy for garnish. In other words, if you are (or know) a woman in need of comfort, make this. You’ll be a hero.
The occasion for this particular cake is a birthday for a friend. And the occasion does not need to involve children to use awesome dinosaur candle holders. My husband backs me up. Of course, he also says “RAWR!” like a four-year-old, but that can’t possibly make my point any less sound.
Devil’s Food Cake
modified from the New Best Recipe
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
Preheat your oven to 350º. Butter three eight inch cake pans. Then ignore your cake pans for 20-30 minutes and hope your cats don’t jump on the counter and ruin them before–oh, dang it! If you have cats, butter your cake pans later.
Make chocolate soup: Chop up the unsweetened chocolate, add cocoa powder, and pour boiling water over it all. Resist the temptation to begin whisking immediately. Wait a minute (yes, a whole minute.) Now you can whisk. Mix until a smooth liquid chocolate forms. (My egg whisk always looks that sad. I don’t know why. Maybe he doesn’t like being dressed as Santa.) Put the chocolate somewhere safe while you make the rest of the batter. The microwave is safe. The edge of the counter, not so much.
Get a good sized mixing bowl, and beat the butter until fluffy with an electric mixer. Add sugar, beat again. Then eggs. everybody says to add eggs one at a time and beat separately, but I’ve honestly never ever done that, and it has never made bad cake or cookies or anything else. Mix in sour cream and vanilla.
Now it’s time for the dry ingredients. Most recipes want you to sift these into a whole separate bowl, as though you had infinite counter space, before even creaming the butter. I just dump the flour, salt, and baking soda into my sieve and shake it for five minutes, sifting right into the batter. Mix on medium-high until smooth.
Almost done! Don’t forget the chocolate. It’s in the microwave. Pour into the batter, mixing as you go. You may want to stir things up with a rubber spatula to make sure there are no chocolate-free pockets.
Divide batter into your buttered cake pans. The trick here is to sort of scoop the batter away from the center, making a gentle bowl shape with your rubber spatula. It helps keep the cakes from being too dome-shaped when they come out of the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, at which point the cake should not jiggle if you shake the pan. Let cool while you make the frosting.
Oh, the frosting. This is my mom’s recipe, and it does not mess around. Most cream cheese frosting recipes call for butter. Not this one. Vanilla? That would just undercut the cream cheese. No, just cream cheese, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar, thanks.
Mom’s Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese. Please don’t use the light stuff. It will make me sad.
1/3 cup cocoa powder
4 cups powdered sugar
With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and cocoa powder together. add two cups of powdered sugar, and beat on low until the sugar is damp enough not to explode in your face, then add the other two cups and do the same. It should look like a pack of murdered Oreos. Beat on medium-high until smooth and thick, just a couple of minutes. Frost layer 1, put layer 2 on top. Frost layer 2, put layer 3 on top. Frost layer 3, then the sides, and then you’re done. Add decorative Whoppers and/or dinosaurs if desired.
Oh. I realized that my salt cellar is staring at you in all these pictures. He’s a very helpful little owl and I love him very much, but he has no business playing with cake. Sorry, Mr. Owl.