Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weekend Cooking; Chocolate Birthday Cake

Groovy Girl's birthday is just around the corner and tomorrow I will be making her a cake and decorating it too,  Last year I made the same chocolate cake but with white frosting because she wanted to decorate it herself and there she is up above with her decorated cake-turning 8.  This year our little cake lover is going to stick with a more subdued chocolate frosting and a little less decoration-they result will still be delicious and creative.

I've made this chocolate cake for her three years in a row and it is from my Baking Illustrated; The Practical Kitchen Companion for the Home Baker from the America's Test Kitchen people.  I LOVE this book because it provides me with all kinds of tips, tricks and the reasons why they work.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake (360-361)
(serves 12)

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
12 T. unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup nonalkalized cocoa, such as Hershey's, sifted
2 tsp instant expresso or coffee powder
1 cup plus 2 T milk

1 recipe (to follow) Rich Chocolate Cream Frosting

1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease two 8-inch round cake pans and cover the pan bottoms with rounds of parchment and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
2. Beat the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer at medium-high speed until smooth and shiny, about 30 seconds.  Gradually sprinkle in the sugar, beat until the mixture is fluffy and almost white, 3-5 minutes.  Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating 1 full minute after each addition.
3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and instant espresso powder in a medium bowl.  Combine the milk and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup.  With the mixer at the lowest speed, add about a third of the dry ingredients to the batter, followed immediately by about a third of the milk mixture; mix until incorporated into the batter.  Repeat the process twice more.  When the batter appears blended, stop the and scrape the sides with a spatula.  Return the mixer to low speed; beat until the batter looks satiny, about 15 seconds longer.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  With a rubber spatula, spread the batter to the pan sides and smooth the tops.  Bake the cakes until they feel firm in the center when lightly pressed and a toothpick comes out clean, 23-30 minutes.  Transfer the pans to a wire rack; cool for 10 mins. Run a knife around the perimeter of each pan, invert the cakes onto the racks, and peel off the paper liners.  reinvert the cakes onto additional racks; cool completely before frosting.
5.  Assembly and frost the cake according to illustrations on page 144-when you turn to pg 144 you are given detailed directions on anchoring the cake with frosting, frosting in between the layers and how to get a smooth top.  Mine never looks like their's even though I follow the directions but it still tastes wonderful.  Frost and slice.


16 ozs. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour over the chocolate.  Add the corn syrup and let stand 3 minutes.  Whisk gently until smooth; stir in vanilla.  Refrigerate 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes, until the mixture reaches a spreadable consistency.  This frosting does not keep well, so it should  be served within a day.

Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme hosted by Beth Fish Reads-click on over to other wonderful food-related posts.


Beth F said...

What a fun photo! And don't you just love ATK -- I love learning the whys as much as the hows. I sometimes disagree with them, but that's usually when I've spent some time developing a technique or recipe that suits our personal taste or style.

Happy birthday to the girl!

TheBookGirl said...

Happy Birthday Groovy Girl :)

I love that picture from last year -- her decorations seems to match her shirt!

caite said...

hmmm...that is an ATK book I do not have.

Heather said...

love the cake photo. Your daughter is welcome in my kitchen for baking and tasting any time.

Saturday was my dad's birthday. He is a huge fan of chocolate cakes. He gave it a pass this year as he said he had been over indulging. I can't recall my dad ever passing up chocolate cake before. I'm sure he'll be over it by the next time I see him so I'll bring him a cake then.