Do you have a recipe that you wish you had more excuses to make? I definitely do. The cake recipe below is to die for. I have dozens of different recipes for cakes in my binder that will probably never be tested, because whenever I have the reason to bake a cake, I pull this one out. I have to. I crave it constantly. Unfortunately, there just aren’t that many reasons to bake a huge, rich, expensive layer cake around here. And I’ll tell you now, this does not translate to cupcakes well. I don’t know why, but it does not work.
Since J’s birthday is Monday, and he was off work yesterday, I decided to throw him a last-minute party. Unfortunately, it was too last-minute and only a couple of guys came, but he had fun just the same. There are reasons I know that. I won’t share them here.
You’ll see a couple of new recipes over the next couple of days. Of course I made Buffalo chicken dip. J won’t let me have a party or go to a party or even THINK about a party without making that dip. I think he ate most of it himself! I also made watermelon margaritas and pico de gallo (the remains of which will be turned into guacamole for dinner today). And this cake. Oh this cake. I just had a piece for breakfast. And as a rule I never eat cake for breakfast. Hey, at least I had a few pieces of watermelon first. So it’s like breakfast dessert right? Right?!
I wish I could claim this recipe as my own, but I cannot. I think most of us in the food world will agree that Ina Garten is a master in the kitchen. I love her recipes. This one is by far my favorite (but you couldn’t tell that could you?). The only change I’ve made to it is to use 1 cup instant coffee instead of 1 cup freshly brewed. If I’m going to use instant in the frosting, what’s the sense in making a pot just for one cup in the cake? I don’t think it affects the flavor at all, but definitely do what you prefer.
One more note before I give you the recipe. The key to this is to use high quality chocolate. Don’t skimp and use store brand cocoa or standard baking chocolate. Use the best that your grocery store offers. For me, that’s Ghiradelli, on both counts. If you can get better than that, do it. Especially in the frosting. The frosting is the best you’ve ever tasted, and it’s quality matches that of the chocolate that goes into it.
Beatty’s Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa
For the Cake:
1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 Tbsp lemon juice with 1 cup milk, let sit for 5 minutes)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup coffee
Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 2 8-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment (this is important, these cakes stick like crazy), then butter and flour the pans.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on low-speed until combined.
In another bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
With mixer on low-speed, slowly add wet to dry. Add coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula (because this batter is so liquid, some of the heavier stuff gets stuck on the bottom, make sure you mix that in).
Pour the batter into the pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake tester comes out clean. For me, it’s best to err on the longer time, these cakes will fall if not cooked long enough.
Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack or wax paper and cool completely.
Place 1 layer (the less pretty one), flat side up on a cake pedestal. Spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on top and down the sides of the cake.
From Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa
6 oz good semisweet chocolate (I use Ghiradelli 60%)
1/2 pound butter, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp instant coffee powder
2 tsp very hot water
Chop chocolate and place in heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until its light yellow and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla, beat 3 minutes. Turn mixer to low, gradually add powdered sugar, then beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy.
Dissolve coffee powder in 2 tsp of hottest tap water. On low-speed, add chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.
**Note–One thing I do with this recipe, because I don’t often have reason to make a big layer cake, is turn it into a trifle. Make the cakes and frosting as above, but don’t assemble. Crumble cakes into small pieces. In a trifle dish or large glass bowl, layer cake, frosting, and homemade whipped cream. Decorate the top with cake crumbs or crushed Oreos. This is great to take to potlucks–it’s easier to serve large crowds, and it goes a lot farther!
**Another Note–This is a cake that needs to take all day, or at least most of the afternoon. Don’t rush this, or it won’t turn out. That’s actually how I discovered the trifle thing, because I rushed and the cakes fell apart. Plan ahead, you won’t be sorry.