The other day I sent a piece of my latest confectionary treat — a chocolate cake with vanilla bean buttercream, both recipes Yolanda’s — over to my parents’ house for them to try, and then yesterday when I popped in for a visit, my mom handed back my now-empty plate.
“Thanks for the cake,” she said. “But Jennifer, why do you need another chocolate cake? Our regular one is soooo good!”
So I tried to explain. Our standby cake is good — dare I say fantastic — but this one has something else. A dark richness. A chocolate density. A solidness that helps it hold up against trimming and layering. (Because I’m all about cake sculptures now, apparently.) Mostly, it’s just a very good, very chocolatey cake.
Seriously? I needed to explain myself? This was chocolate cake. Enough said.
I’ve made this cake a bunch of times — mostly in the shape of eggs — but now I’m trying basic layered cakes, too.
The cakes bake up with a nice, rounded dome. When I trim it off — insider’s secret: the top’s the best part, tender and intensely chocolate — we fight over the scraps.
Yolanda always drenches her cooled cakes with simple syrup, though she doesn’t say why. I figure it’s just to keep them more moist. To me, dumping water on a cake is counterintuitive, so I’ve yet to drench them as thoroughly as she does.
However, I’ve noticed that the bottom and edges of the cake do seem a little dry, so maybe I ought to hit them extra hard? Next time, maybe.
Adapted from Yolanda of How To Cake It.
I’ve always iced this cake (I can’t resist an opportunity to make buttercream!), but it’s not necessary. The cake is sturdy and rich — and chocolatey — enough to hold its own.
Next time I won’t split the layers: the ratio of icing to cake was too high for our tastes.
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 ½ cups sugar
2¾ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cocoa powder, Dutch processed
2 cups boiling water
1-2 cups simple syrup, optional
favorite icing, optional
Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat very well. Add the eggs, two at a time, and beat well, scraping down the sides after each addition. Once it’s well-mixed, beat for another 3-5 minutes to get it nice and fluffy.
Put the cocoa in a separate bowl, add the boiling water and whisk well. Set aside to cool for a bit (about 20 minutes), or slip into the freezer for a bit, stirring every couple minutes. You just want to take a bit of the heat off.
Measure the remaining dry ingredients into a third bowl.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternating with the warm chocolate, starting and ending with the dry.
Divide the batter between two greased, wax paper-lined cake pans. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Cool for ten minutes before running a knife around the sides of the pan and inverting the cakes onto a cooling rack.
Before icing the cakes, drench thoroughly, tops and bottoms, with simple syrup. Yolanda uses Sir Squeeze A Lot. I use a disposable water bottle into the lid of which my younger son poked lots of holes. It’s not fancy but it works.