July 21, 2010

Rich Chocolate Cake II

Rich Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

This is truly a chocolate cake.  It falls neatly in the middle of the scale that runs from a Double Chocolate Obsession Flourless Torte to those Chocolate-in-Color-Only Cakes whose recipes call for "2 oz bakers chocolate."  Makes one 3 layer cake.  Fill and frost with Easy Ultimate Peanut Butter Frosting.

3 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped or broken into small pieces (An acceptable grocery store brand is Ghirardelli, but feel free to step it up a notch if you have something better on hand. I do like Scharfenn Berger.
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee  (Use good-quality coffee.)
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened good-quality cocoa powder (not Dutch process; again I used Ghirardelli)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs (or 4 medium eggs)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Spray 3 9" round cake pans with cooking spray and line with circles of parchment paper.  Spray the paper.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 300º.  (No that's not a typo. 300º F.)

2.  Chop chocolate--my kitchen was hot, so I got away with just breaking the half-ounce squares in half-- and combine with hot coffee.  Stir to melt the chocolate and let sit to cool a bit. 

3.Place your sifter over a large bowl and sift together the dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 

4.  In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate-coffee mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

5.  Divide batter between pans.  I use a measuring cup to scoop out one scoop at a time to get the amount of batter in each pan fairly equal.  You could also use a kitchen scale to do this.  Tap the cake pans lightly on the counter top to release any excess air.  Bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 55 minutes to an hour. Because there are three pans, one may need to go to the bottom rack.  Because this cake is cooked at a low temperature, I wouldn't rotate the pans and risk the cake 'falling' Just be a aware that the pan on the bottom may finish baking slightly before or after the other two. 

6. Cool layers almost completely in pans on racks. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen this may take an hour or more.  Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully peel off parchment paper and cool layers completely. 

Smitten Kitchen advises that cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature, but I prefer to let them cool completely, then wrap each one in a triple layer of plastic wrap and freeze for up to one week.  (I know that's a lot of plastic wrap, but after ten-plus dollars worth of chocolate and two hours of your time, you don't want to risk freezer burn, do you?)  When placing cakes in the freezer be absolutely certain that they are on a flat surface.  Once layers are frozen they can be stacked in the freezer on top of each other or removed to be frosted.  

Some tips on frosting:
As you can see from the photos, I don't do decorative frosting.  My cakes are home-style.  If you have frosting tips for me, please post them in the comments. 
A frozen cake is much easier to frost than one that is soft.  Take out and unwrap one layer at a time.  Using a large spreader, scoop out a large glob of frosting.  Spread frosting spinning cake as you go.  If your cake is frozen, you can be a little rough with it and not worry about accidentally peeling off a layer of cake, or getting your frosting messy with crumbs. Attempt to go over each section of cake only once. Once the frosting under your spatula has been spread, get more, don't try to tidy up what you've just done until you have (fairly) even layer of frosting around the whole cake.  Carefully dollop and spread the last of the frosting on any place that looks a little bare. 


  1. AnonymousJuly 21, 2010

    Hi Maria,
    Enjoyed this last eve with Candi and Mr. B. Now that is some chocolate! Great cake and cool blog. Best to you all. Randy

  2. So, last night after reading your blog, I decided to make the chocolate cake. The Boeks were here and we needed a desert to have after your Dad's delicious smoked pork. We ended up having to modify. One of us can't eat dairy, so we substituted yogurt for bmilk. Then we didn't have enough semisweet chocolate, but we did have 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips. We wanted chocolate frosting so I made a powdered sugar, butter, and water frosting. Would have used hot coffee, but we wanted to get some sleep. It was a hit, we all loved it. Oh, I made the full recipe, since I didn't have 10" round pans, so we made cupcakes with the extra batter and froze them for later.

  3. Wahoo! So glad you guys made some modifications, baked the cake and liked it!