Saturday, August 18, 2012

You're not my friend if you don't like cake - or at least my cake

Creating new recipes is all well and good, but sometimes you need an old standby.  I've been using basically the same recipe for chocolate cake for about three years now, with some slight alterations when necessary.  It is a dark chocolate cake and it is moist, delicate, and flavorful - pretty much perfect.  I know what many of you will say - "But Danielle, chocolate cake is so easy to make, why are you patting yourself on the back for this cake?" Well, it is because my chocolate cake is simply the best chocolate cake.  I have so much confidence in this cake that I made 50 (out of 180) cupcakes for a friend's wedding with this recipe.

Now, to take a step back towards reality and take a humility pill, the reason the cake is so good is because I have such a good base to work from.  I found this recipe on Allrecipes a few years ago and I haven't changed it too much since then, mostly just tweaking the directions a little bit and adding some different flavorings: Dark Chocolate Cake I

Don't you just want to eat it?
For this recipe, the Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Strawberry Cake, I followed these steps: 

Dark Chocolate Cake
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp of  coffee extract
  • 2 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups of white sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
Tip: I know most recipes call for unsalted butter, but I like to laugh in the face of convention - or maybe I just really like salt - so I tend to use salted butter in my cakes and they turn out wonderful every time!
You're going to need four bowls for this recipe - one for the chocolate, one for the egg whites, one for the dry ingredients, and one for the wet.  The first and smallest bowl is for the chocolate.  Pour the two cups of boiling water over top of the cocoa powder and whisk this until the chocolate is completely blended into the water.  How I altered the Allrecipes version was by adding the coffee extract to the chocolate.  I really feel like it adds an extra subtle dimension to the chocolate flavor.
After you've mixed the chocolate, mix together your wet ingredients.  I will readily admit that occasionally I cannot wait until my butter is soft and will have to microwave it, but I advise against this as melted butter can definitely change the texture of your cake.  So, beat together your softened butter and sugar until it is a delicious paste.  Now add your egg yolks.  You should put the egg whites into bowl that will be big enough to beat the whites later.  Beat in the yolks and the vanilla to the sugar and butter.
 Now you can mix the dry ingredients.  I am the first one to admit that I am a lazy cook sometimes, so I will often not mix the dry ingredients together first in a separate bowl.  If I do it that way, I'll mix in the salt, baking soda, and baking powder into the sugar/butter first and make sure it is well blended.  If I mix the flour separately, then I just mix the flour, salt, and baking powder and soda in the bowl and whisk them together.
Then the chocolate and the flour can be added in about three stages - be careful during the chocolate half of the stage because if you are using an electric mixer, it may make a little bit of a mess.  After you have mixed in all the flour and all the chocolate, you should have a delicious batter, but you aren't finished yet!
You still have to deal with those egg whites!  The egg whites should be beaten until they are at least frothy, but you could beat them until they are approaching the stiff peak stage.  This is going to make your batter and your cake much fluffier and lighter - this is something I find really necessary for pound cakes, but I think it does something lovely for all cakes.  This mixture should be folded into the batter, not whisked or beaten as that would destroy all the wonderful bubbles!
I poured this into three 9 inch pans (that I buttered and floured) and tried to make it as even as possible.  These are then baked for about 18-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Something really important to remember is that you don't want to overcook any cake since it will immediately make it less delicious.
Three layers of chocolate goodness!
Since the finished cake is really only as good as what you put on the cake, I've started using this absolutely delicious recipe for Sturdy Whipped Cream Frosting that my awesome sister found on Allrecipes as well.  It really does hold its shape remarkably well and it tastes amazing!  The cream cheese adds a dimension that you don't get from heavy cream alone.

As you can see above, I layered the frosting with slices of strawberries.  I suggest patting the strawberries dry a bit so that you don't have too much moisture inside the cake.  I didn't have quite enough frosting to cover the whole cake and make it look "perfect", but the rustic, homemade look is impressive enough for most people.

We got to share this cake with our new roommate, his partner, and his parents last night.  There were happy bellies all around and no complaints, so I'm pretty sure that I'm going to like them.  The next test might be a Lemon Pound Cake.  I wonder if I should warn him that we can't be friends if he doesn't like cake... 

Now in honor of Julia Child (as I sit here watching a Julia Child marathon on PBS), Bon Appétit!

1 comment:

  1. I had no idea that you blogged! Happy times!