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I am a wife, mother, teacher, runner, baker, fund-raiser, reader, watcher of movies, dog-lover, writer, music-lover and foodie. So - I'm a woman of many moods! I write and share in order to teach and enrich. I currently have two blogs going: The Kitchen Refugee, and A Mile At A Time. The first is about time spent in the kitchen and the second about time spent on the road. Frequently the two roads intersect!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Cake!

A few summers ago, a young friend I was working with kept saying she was in the mood for a really rich chocolate cake.  Since she's a friend of my daughter's, and I feel that kind of mamma-love for her, I started researching cake recipes.  My mother has always subscribed to the view that cakes made from scratch are some sort of mystery - so I was raised on box mixes.  I realize they serve a purpose, but cake has become less and less mysterious to me the more I experiment.

This week I had a lot of spare time on my hands, and two friends with birthdays.  Instead of spending money I don't have on gifts, I gave the gift of home-baked goodness!  I love this recipe because it combines all things decadent: butter, buttermilk, strong coffee, heavy cream, and loads of chocolate ganache!  It is three layers of over-the-top chocolate coma goodness!  I believe this came from www.cooks.com.

Fudgy Chocolate Layer Cake     
Preheat oven to 325┬║
Cake: Bowl 1:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1 1/2 tsps. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Bowl 2:
1 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
2 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Bowl 3:
6 TB unsalted butter
1 cup strong, hot coffee

1, 2, 3, MIX!
(P.S. - RIP favorite big mixing bowl lost in the line of duty!)  
(I generally prepare bowl 3 first, so the coffee has a chance to melt or at least soften the butter.) 

•Cut butter into small pieces and pour hot coffee over it.
•Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  
•Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.

•With a whisk or hand mixer, add part of the coffee mixture and part of the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients, and blend slowly.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl, add the remainder from bowls 1 & 2, and blend until all ingredients are well incorporated.

•Pour into 3 8" cake pans - prepared with cooking spray or shortening, with parchment or waxed paper in the bottom of each pan.  See?  This is pretty simple!

Ready for the oven!

Bake cakes for 25-30 minutes, rotating them in your oven halfway through the process.  Cakes are done when they can pass the 
clean-toothpick-in-the-middle test!

Remove cakes from oven and cool on racks for at least 10 minutes before removing them from the pan and cooling completely.  Once cooled, remove the wax/parchment paper.

While the cakes are cooling, it's time to whip up some serious chocolate ganache.  This is so easy, and makes it look so spectacular - this is way beyond frosting!

1 1/4 lbs. bittersweet chocolate (I just used chips)
1 cup heavy cream
2 TB light corn syrup
5 TB unsalted butter, softened

Put the chocolate and butter in a large bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil.  Immediately pour over the chocolate and let stand in a warm place for about 5 minutes.  Gently whisk the ganache until smooth.  Refrigerate to bring down the temperature, but *STIRE FREQUENTLY so it doesn't set up completely.  You want it thick enough to spread, but not returning to a solid!

Spread ganache on each layer, then around top and outside of cake.  Sing Happy Birthday, or Happy Monday, or Happy-Happy-Joy-Joy, and get a fork!

I decorated with white chocolate shavings.

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