Do you remember, months ago (like, a year ago), when I made an obscure reference to cooking disasters and then never followed up? Yeah, this is that cooking disaster (which really, this should just go to show you how far frosting can go to cover up any and all ills).
As many of you are aware, I spent about nine months in Colorado around this time last year. I’d just decided to terminate my internship in Australia, and I came home knowing I’d made a good decision, but with absolutely no plans. When I don’t have plans, or don’t want to do anything else, baking is sort of a fallback for me, as it is for many of us. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, but I find it extremely soothing. The whir of the mixer, the smell of butter and sugar combining and then baking – all of it.
And then, when it really, really goes awry, I tend to find it significantly less relaxing. Let’s be real, for all the wonderful, beautiful, stunning, and admirably tasty treats you see on food blogs, I’m pretty sure there are innumerable screw-ups behind the scenes. Because I don’t really feel comfortable running out, buying more butter and eggs, and starting all over, I usually try to salvage what I’ve got. This is an example of such salvaging. In this case, it took a lot of frosting, and a lot of swearing. Let’s be real – I like to pretend, especially when I live with my parents, that I have some semblance of control, but in all reality, when you’ve literally got cake batter all over the inside of your oven, everyone is going to let something loose. Especially when you then have to attack your oven with a metal spatula to scrape it off so the smoke alarm doesn’t go off the next time someone uses the oven (and scare the daylights out of your skittish cat). The good news is that, in spite of these problems, this cake actually turned out really well. There’s something about chocolate cake at high altitude, though, that just is not fool-proof. According to King Arthur Flour (bless them), for those baking at 5,000′ or over (which I was, at the time), you need to increase both your flour and the baking powder/soda. They have all sorts of good advice, for which I am grateful.
I haven’t attempted this cake since, mind you. It’s delicious, with an amazing crumb and a deep, rich flavor. The frosting gives off an amazing floral aroma that almost can’t be beat. All the same, it’s a time- and labor-intensive cake, one with slightly fussy ingredients. As a result, I just enjoyed every last ounce, and look forward to trying it again in the near future.
Also – heyo! I’m thinking about posting again this week. All cake, all the time. If you’re up for it, or just in it for the pretty pictures, keep stopping by!
Dark Chocolate Cake (adapted from Sweetapolita)
Makes three 9″ cake rounds, or two 9″ cake rounds and approximately 18 cupcakes
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups buttermilk*
1 1/2 cups freshly brewed black coffee
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup dark, Dutch-processed cocoa**
1 tbsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
White Chocolate Frosting (adapted from Sweetapolita)
2 sticks/1 lb of butter, softened (preferably overnight, for for a full day)
4 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
10 oz white chocolate, chopped and melted
1/2 cup whipping cream
For the cake:
Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Butter three 9″ cake pans, line in parchment, and dust with cocoa powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. While mixer is running, add buttermilk. The appearance of the mixture should be somewhat grainy. Add coffee, then vegetable oil, mixing between each addition. Add vanilla and mix on low until just combined.
In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, both types of cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk briskly to separate any chunks. Add to liquids in three segments, mixing well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Before pouring into pans, use a spatula to scrape up any unincorporated batter off the bottom of the bowl. Fold several times to ensure incorporation, and then pour into cake pans until they are approximately 1/4 to 1/3 of the way full. Tap cake pans to release any air bubbles. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pans for 20 to 30 minutes before removing from cake pans and cooling fully on wire racks. If you’re like me and feeling impatient to enjoy your cake now, darn it, feel free to refrigerate or freeze cake layers until they are cooled. I encourage you to allow the cake layers to cool for a full day before frosting – this makes the cake construction much easier.
For the frosting:
In the clean bowl of a mixer, combine butter and powdered sugar. Mix on low until the sugar begins to incorporate with butter. Mix on moderate speed until the butter and sugar are well combined. Add vanilla and mix again. Add melted white chocolate and whipping cream and mix on low until they begin to incorporate. Then mix on medium to high speed to ensure maximum frosting fluffiness.
Assemble the cake:
When the cake layers are fully cooled, place one on a cake stand or a plate lined with strips of waxed paper. Carefully slice off any domed or slanted edges of the cake (I always save these for later and snack on them or use them as ice cream toppings). Place a large dollop of frosting on the top of the cake and smooth out until it just barely touches the edges of the cake and is even in height. Carefully place the second layer of the cake on top, and repeat. Do the same with the third layer.
Using small amounts of frosting, “crumb-coat” the rest of the cake, and chill for 20 to 30 minutes. When the crumb-coating has set, remove the cake and continue frosting from the top down to the sides and around. Use any extra frosting for decoration.
*I believe I have shared this before, but I literally never have buttermilk on hand. As long as I have eggs and butter, I consider myself reasonably prepared for any baking adventures. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand: add 1 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice per cup of regular milk. Stir and allow to sit for a minute or two, then use as buttermilk.
**I use Savory’s Black Onyx Dutch Cocoa Powder – supporting CO, and all that. Sur la Table and Penzey’s Spices might have equivalents.